Today's News: Our Take


SYD, MEET VICIOUS

Alias spy Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) is about to encounter a truly frightening foe: the boss from The Office. Ricky Gervais, who plays insecure egomaniac David Brent on the BBC America comedy, will guest-star on an upcoming episode as a "juicy, horrible, evil" villain, says the actor, who's set to tape his appearance in early 2004. "[Alias creator] J.J. Abrams is a fan of The Office and offered to write me a part," he says. In fact, Abrams is tailoring the role to Gervais's gift for subtlety. "A good bad guy doesn't have to be arch, over-the-top, mustache-twirly," Abrams adds. "A good bad guy needs to be smart. And certainly, Ricky is smart." Translation: Expect lots of awkward silences. (For more "TV News" scoop, pick up the new issue of TV Guide magazine, on sale Monday!) read more

UNMASKED

Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are slated to reprise their roles in a sequel to The Mask of Zorro, Variety reports. Filming is expected to get underway in the spring. read more

MORE RENEWALS

ABC has extended full season, 22-episode orders to all of its freshman comedies: Hope & Faith, I'm with Her, It's All Relative and Married to the Kellys. In addition, new dramas 10-8 and Threat Matrix have also been picked up. And what about Karen Sisco? An ABC rep tells me four more scripts of the show have been ordered and "we are talking to the studio." Translation: If those ratings don't spike soon, it's a goner. read more

FAB DEAL

The five stars of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy are a signature away from securing a new deal with Bravo that will increase their per-episode paychecks from $3,000 to $8,000. While that sounds impressive, keep in mind that fashion spitfire (and breakout Queer star) Carson Kressley now earns as much as your average professional CD-shopper. read more

PREGNANT PAUSE

How weird! On Thursday's Will & Grace, Grace (Debra Messing) appeared in only two minor scenes — and she was bed-ridden in both. Then, at episode's end, she decided to follow Leo to freakin' Cambodia! What gives? It turns out, Messing has been feeling under the weather because she's expecting her first child with husband Daniel Zelman. The show's writers hurriedly shipped Grace off to Cambodia in order to explain her absence while Messing's on a reduced work schedule. NBC won't say how long Grace will remain MIA. read more

HO HO HELP!

Seeking a funky (and possibly scary) alternative to traditional holiday TV specials? VH1's A Kid Rock Christmas will feature lotsa music and random stars like the Pussycat Dolls, Carmen Electra, Sopranos starlet Drea De Matteo and Kid Rock's mom. Filmed in Kid's hometown of Detroit, the 90-minute jingle-jammin' special debuts Dec. 14 at 9 pm/ET. read more

Tru CallingEliza Dushku sees dead...

Tru Calling Eliza Dushku sees dead people. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer refugee plays a med student with the ability to see the events leading up to untimely deaths (an apparent side effect of watching her mother being murdered in front of her when she was little) who races against the clock every week to change another victim's fate. Considering her lifeless performance, Dushku should feel right at home in her new workplace: the morgue.

Friends Christina Applegate delivers another hilarious appearance as Rachel's snotty sis Amy. Having the Emmy winner return this final season was a no-brainer (literally and figuratively), but I'm a bit taken aback by this snarky exchange about Rachel and Amy's other sister, Jill, played by Reese Witherspoon: Amy: "Mom said she [Jill] gained like, 15 pounds." Rachel: "Hips or thighs?" Amy: "Ass and face." Rachel: "I thought she was on Atkins." Amy: "She was, but the ca read more

ONCE AGAIN

Former Once and Again star Billy Campbell is headed back to the tube. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actor has signed a deal with Fox to headline his own drama series for fall 2004. read more

JUSTIN TIME

Justin Timberlake has signed a deal with ABC Sports that calls for the singer-hottie-comic to star in the network's NBA promotional campaign and write the theme music for its hoops coverage. In addition, the 'N Syncer will serve as a special NBA correspondent. read more

IT'S MILLER TIME AGAIN

Comedian Dennis Miller is headed to CNBC as host of his own prime-time talk show. The hour-long gabfest debuts in January. read more

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