Today's News: Our Take


TAKING SIDES

Let this serve as a warning to consumers: A federal judge says Bob Guiney is free to promote his debut CD 3 Sides, denying an attempt by Bachelor execs to stop Estella's ex from marketing the album. Earlier this month, the show's producers sued Guiney for breaching an exclusivity clause in his contract. Since its November debut, 3 Sides has sold 50,000 units — or one copy for every girl Guiney kissed in the past month. read more

REMEMBERED

British actor Alan Bates, whose film roles included The Entertainer, Zorba the Greek and Gosford Park, died Saturday night in a London hospital of cancer. He was 69. Bates, who first made a name for himself on the London stage, earned a 2002 Tony Award for the Broadway revival of Fortune's Fool. read more

GOOD TIDINGS

All Hollywood wanted for Christmas was a good weekend at the box office — and man, did Santa deliver. The top 12 films — led by Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King — grossed $168.6 million from Friday to Sunday, a record high for a Christmas weekend. The third and final Rings chapter earned another $51.2 million, bringing its two-week total $224 million. The Steve Martin comedy Cheaper by the Dozen opened in second place with a strong $28.2 million, followed by the Nicole Kidman-Jude Law Civil War epic Cold Mountain (No. 3 with $14.5 million), Something's Gotta Give (No. 4 with $14.2 million) and Paycheck (No. 5 with $13.9 million). Moviegoers, meanwhile, gave Peter Pan the hook. The live-action update opened at No. 7 with $11.4 million. read more

IT'S A BOY!

Titanic actress Kate Winslet and her director-hubby Sam Mendes (American Beauty) are the proud parents of a baby boy. Joe Mendes was born Dec. 22 in New York. Winslet has a 3-year-old daughter from her previous marriage to British filmmaker Jim Threapleton. read more

AS THE WORLD TANKS

All Fox wanted for Christmas was decent tune-in for World Idol — and man, did Santa disappoint. The two-hour performance edition attracted a paltry 6.5 million viewers in the U.S. Thursday night. The results show airs Thursday at 9 pm/ET. read more

THE SHOVED ONE?

In his exclusive interview with CBS' 60 Minutes Sunday night, Michael Jackson alleged that authorities "manhandled" him when he was arrested last month on child molestation charges, leading to a dislocated shoulder and bruised wrists (or was that smeared ketchup?). Jacko also told Ed Bradley that he was locked in a stinky restroom for 45 minutes while in custody. Santa Barbara DA Thomas Sneddon, though not denying that the department's lavatory is in dire need of a Wizard air freshener, insists the singer was treated fairly. Speaking of things that smell, remember the Jackson special that CBS abruptly yanked last month after the molestation charges surfaced? Well, the network has had a change of heart: Michael Jackson Number Ones will air this Friday at 8 pm/ET. read more

Vanessa Williams' Boomtown Farewell

Apparently, NBC has saved the best for last. This weekend, the Peacock network will air the final four episodes of Boomtown, its critically acclaimed but prematurely cancelled cop drama. (Three episodes air on Saturday, 8-11 pm/ET; one on Sunday at 10 pm/ET). Each features Vanessa Williams, who plays Det. Katherine Pierce. We interviewed the former Miss America, before Boomtown was officially axed earlier this year, to ask all about her eclectic life.


TV Guide Online: For Detective Pierce's first episode, you had to chase a perp up two flights of stairs, down a hall and up more stairs. How hard was it to shoot that scene, take after take?
Williams:
It wasn't too bad. I'm in good shape for a 40-year-old woman, fortunately. So I didn't get too winded.

TVGO: When you say you're in shape, how many flights could you do before you pass out?
W
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Ben Affleck's Next Project


In Paycheck (which opened Thursday), Ben Affleck plays a genius whose bosses erase his memory after he invents a machine that sees into the future. Well, Affleck is no psychic in real life, but he can offer a glimpse of what's to come for his struggling reality series, Project Greenlight.

Greenlight, which gives aspiring writers and directors the chance to make movies, recently was dumped by HBO after two seasons. Like other orphaned TV shows, it's just been adopted by Bravo. The cable channel was "really aggressive in trying to do it," Affleck tells TV Guide Online. "We're really excited. They really get the spirit of it."

Since it's moving to the home of Queer Eye, Affleck, 31, feels obliged to give Greenlight a makeover. "We're going to make some changes to the contest this year," read more

Elijah Wood's Extreme Stunt


Elijah Wood returns as the diminutive hobbit Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (currently in theaters). Of course, though he's small in stature, that doesn't mean he's afraid to take some big risks. During his time in New Zealand, where the epic Rings trilogy was filmed, Wood and several castmates did extreme sports in their free time.

"I did paraponting, which is awesome," he enthuses. "It is running off a hill with a parachute and catching thermal [pockets of air]. I basically parachuted over Queenstown [New Zealand]."

In Rings, Frodo braves the terrifying depths of Mordor in an effort to rid Middle Earth of a notoriously troublesome ring. But in real life, Wood's courage only takes him up to a point! He left some of the more reckless behavior to co-star read more

60 Minutes II Wow. Now I know...

60 Minutes II
Wow. Now I know why this little franchise has been around for, like, 100 years. It's a newspaper for lazy people. And just as unsettling. That piece on the cancers afflicting employees at IBM broke my heart. So many lives could have been spared if only the bigwigs had heeded the warnings about the chemicals they used. It's sickening and I am with every one of the civil-action participants. You sue their asses off, people. It won't undo the damage — but it might stop any more from being inflicted.

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