Today's News: Our Take


Sex is getting more common on television, but shows are more likely to include some references to making it safe, according to a study released Tuesday from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The report found that 26 percent of shows with sex references also included messages of abstinence or protection. That is nearly double the rate that the foundation found in 1997-98, the first year of its ongoing study. read more


The woman that rock producer Phil Spector is accused of murdering is a B-movie actress who starred in such films as Amazon Women on the Moon and The Barbarian Queen. Police believe Spector met Lana Clarkson, 40, Sunday night at the House of Blues in Hollywood, where she had been working as a hostess. Spector, who is currently free on bail, allegedly killed Clarkson after they returned to his Los Angeles-area estate. read more


Need further proof that Nicole Kidman is the cat's meow in Hollywood? According to The Hollywood Reporter, the in-demand Hours star has been offered the title role in Warner Bros. Pictures' upcoming Catwoman flick. Wisely, the actress — who played Dr. Chase Meridian in 1995's Batman Forever — is waiting on the latest draft of the script before making any decisions. The role was originally slated for Ashley Judd, but saner minds apparently prevailed. Nothing against Judd, but she's no Kidman. read more


Courtney Love, arrested Tuesday at London's Heathrow airport for allegedly being "verbally abusive" to the cabin crew aboard a Virgin Atlantic flight, spent nine hours in custody before being released with a warning. "I cussed at a lady named Mary," Love told reporters. "She wasn't letting my friend into first class so I said, 'Why are you being a bitch about it?'" A better question would be: Why did you let your so-called "friend" fly coach? read more


Whatever Fox is paying American Idol meanie Simon Cowell, it's not enough. Fueled by two highly-rated editions of Idol (not to mention a little show called Joe Millionaire), Fox was the most-watched network last week — the first time it has scored such a feat on the strength of its entertainment programming alone. And all signs suggest that the network will make it two in a row. Monday's Joe Millionaire hit a new series high among total viewers (20.6 million), and last night's Idol — in which the first eight semifinalists duked it out (go Trenyce!) — easily won its timeslot. Speaking of Idol, I have a question for Ryan Seacrest: If I vote via text messaging, do I need to insert a space between "Idols" and the contestant's number? You weren't very clear about that last night. read more


J.Lo's ex, dancer/choreographer Cris Judd, has officially hit bottom. Judd has been added to the cast of ABC's upcoming Survivor-esque reality series I'm a Celebrity — Get Me Out of Here! He joins such fellow D-listers as Melissa Rivers, Tyson Beckford, Downtown Julie Brown and another recent add-on, actress Maria Conchita Alonso. A 10th cast member will be announced shortly, and we're still betting it's someone from Melrose Place. Celebrity debuts Feb. 19. read more


Bachelorette babe Trista Rehn may be a better judge of character than we gave her credit for. Greg Todtman, the contestant Rehn gave the boot to last week, was arrested Friday at New York's JFK airport and charged with trying to smuggle cocaine onto a plane. Todtman, however, claims he was actually carrying a pill that he did not have a prescription for. He's still a better suitor than Russ. read more


The much-talked-about British documentary on Michael Jackson — airing Thursday on ABC as part of a special two-hour 20/20 — is apparently going to live up to all the hype. Among the revelations Jacko reportedly makes: He once slept in the same bed as Macaulay Culkin and his brother Kieran; his terrace-dangled infant son, Prince Michael II, was conceived by a surrogate mother whom he had never met; and he underwent two operations on his nose because "it helped me breathe better so I can hit higher notes." His best quote from the documentary? That's easy: "If there were no children on this Earth, if someone announced all kids were dead, I would jump off the balcony immediately." read more

Providence: The Feature Film

Analyze That may have flopped at the box office, but Hollywood isn't saying fughedaboudit when it comes to big-screen comedies involving the mafia. This week, Alec Baldwin and Matthew Broderick begin shooting Providence, a fact-based film about the FBI's failed 1987 attempt to infiltrate the mob by producing a motion picture.

"The FBI got it in their head that they could nail mobsters in Rhode Island by making a movie," explains Jeff Nathanson, who penned the script and will make his directorial debut with the pic. "They plucked this struggling writer-director out of Hollywood and took him to New England. They hoped to [broker] deals between mobsters and the teamsters read more

Twenty Nagging Questions About 24

After a two-week-long American Idol-induced hiatus, 24 ticks off this evening with the first of five original episodes. When we last clocked in with Fox's serial thriller, bomb sniffer Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) was closing in on terrorist mastermind Syed Ali (Francesco Quinn), President Palmer's estranged wife Sherry (Penny Johnson Jerald) was revealed to be the mole inside the White House, and whitebread bride-to-be Marie Warner (Laura Harris) shot and killed her fianc&#233, Reza (Phillip Rhys). While we would never welcome time off from 24, the break did give us an opportunity to catch our breath — and ponder some of the show's unsolved mys read more

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