Today's News: Our Take


Despite the "it's so bad it's bad" buzz, E!'s The Anna Nicole Show lured enough masochists, er, viewers to make it the highest-rated series premiere in basic cable history. Sunday night's debut notched a preliminary 5.5 overnight rating — which also sets a new record for an E! show. By comparison, MTV's The Osbournes premiered in the spring with a 2.8 rating. Ms. Smith better enjoy the success while she can: We predict word-of-mouth will have a devastating impact on Anna Nicole next week. read more


Former X-Files UFO chaser David Duchovny will guest star on Bonnie Hunt's new ABC sitcom Life With Bonnie, TV Guide Online has learned. He'll play an egotistical weatherman who appears on Bonnie's fictional morning talk show over-selling his rinky-dink short film. Duchovny starred in the Hunt-directed pic, Return To Me. read more

Joss Whedon Gives Buffy Back its Bite

Since Buffy the Vampire Slayer bummed out even its diehard loyalists worse than a pair of teeth marks to the neck last season, series creator Joss Whedon knows that this year there's a lot, uh, at stake. Luckily, he has a master plan to keep the UPN sleeper out of the TV-show graveyard and in the Sunnydale Cemetery where it belongs: In upcoming episodes, he reveals, "there will be vampires. And we're going to give [the Scoobies] cute catch phrases like 'Eat this' and 'You're dust.'" All kidding aside, the auteur does have a few tricks up his sleeve to turn around the bloody mess that the cult fave became — and no, none of them involve hiring Luke Perry to reprise his role from the anemic 1992 film. Phew! He's off to a good start already. Here are some of hi read more


Broadcast legend Chick Hearn, the Los Angeles Lakers's longtime play-by-play announcer who coined the phrases "slam dunk," "air ball" and "dribble drive," died on Monday just days after suffering a head injury in a fall. He was 85. "There's never going to be another Chick Hearn," said Lakers legend Magic Johnson. "He's a man who will be remembered long after. Some people grow bigger than their sport, bigger than their job." Hearn fell and struck his head Friday at his Encino, Calif., home. Doctors operated twice on Saturday, but he never regained consciousness. read more


Actor Josh Ryan Evans, the 3-foot, 2-inch star of NBC's Passions, died Monday night as a result of an existing heart condition. He was 20. In an unbelievable parallel, Evans's soap character — pint-sized Pinocchio Timmy — died on Monday's episode. NBC released the following statement: "We are deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic loss of Josh Ryan Evans. He was a truly unique talent with a remarkable spirit. He will be sorely missed by his Passions family and by all of us at NBC." read more


ABC has put out an S.O.S. call to HBO. The struggling Disney-owned network has signed a deal that gives it first dibs on all programs developed by HBO Independent Productions, the company behind Sex and the City as well as CBS's Everybody Loves Raymond. With ABC's luck, they'll get the next Mind of the Married Man. read more


ABC News vet Cokie Roberts, 58, is being treated for breast cancer, The Washington Post reports. Roberts — who underwent a successful lumpectomy at Washington's Sibley Hospital two weeks ago — says the cancer was caught in the early stages and she expects to make a full recovery after six months of chemotherapy. Furthermore, the treatments won't "cause any major interference with my work," the exiting This Week co-host says. read more


NBC has ordered an additional 13 episodes of its summer reality hit Dog Eat Dog to air at midseason... Singer-songwriter-actress Jewel and her manager-mother Lenedra Carroll have formed a production company, Magic Lantern Entertainment. The duo's first acquisition: the ensemble drama Wave, in which Jewel will star... Cable network FX is developing a drama series based on the 1998 Robert De Niro feature Ronin, Variety reports... American Pie's Seann William Scott will return for the upcoming third installment, which begins filming in January. Other Pie regulars are also expected back... Showtime has greenlit an original movie about New York's Crown Heights riots. read more


Here's your chance to eat like a mobster: HBO is planning a gourmet food line inspired by The Sopranos. The products — available on beginning next month — will include marinara sauce, pasta, salad dressing and frozen pizza. What's more, Warner Books will publish The Sopranos Family Cookbook: As Compiled by Artie Bucco, featuring southern Italian-style recipes from the fictional owner of the Nuovo Vesuvio restaurant. read more


Kelly isn't the only Osbourne offspring going Hollywood. Her little bro, Jack, will guest star on the two-hour season premiere of Dawson's Creek, airing Oct. 2 on the WB, TV Guide Online has learned. In other Creek news, Oliver Hudson (My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star) and Jensen Ackles (Dark Angel) are joining the cast. read more

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