Today's News: Our Take


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Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg has filed a restraining order against a woman who allegedly stalked the director and claimed he implanted a mind-control device in her brain. According to People.com, a Los Angeles judge last week granted Spielberg's request against Diana Louisa Napolis, who Spielberg's camp believes suffers from a delusional disorder and poses "a serious risk of violent confrontation" with the filmmaker. Sounds like she saw A.I. one too many times. read more

MERRY CHRISTMAS, GOOD-BYE

As if poor Rhode Island doesn't get enough abuse, NBC has axed its feel-good Friday night drama Providence after five seasons. A two-hour series finale will air on Dec. 20. Naturally, the network describes the show's swan song as "a touching, heartwarming send-off for the entire Hansen family." In other Peacock news, NBC has picked up Sunday night newcomers American Dreams and Boomtown for a full season. read more

RING KA-CHING!

Moviegoers couldn't take their eyes off of The Ring, as the death-by-videotape spooker debuted atop the box office with $15 million. Sweet Home Alabama was No. 2 with $9.6 million, followed by Red Dragon, which fell from first to third with $8.8 million. Rounding out the top five: My Big Fat Greek Wedding (No. 4 with $7.2 million) and Brown Sugar (No. 5 with $5.31 million). Audiences, meanwhile, deserted the new Katie Holmes thriller Abandon. The schlockfest grossed $5.3 million, bad enough for sixth place. read more

EIGHT IS ENOUGH?

Harry Potter fans are in a tizzy over speculation that J.K. Rowling, who has always maintained that her best-selling series would end with the seventh book, may do an eighth volume. According to the Scotsman newspaper, Warner Bros. has registered three more Harry Potter titles as trademarks at the UK Patent Office: Harry Potter and the Alchemist's Cell, Harry Potter and the Chariots of Light and Harry Potter and the Pyramids of Furmat. However, Rowling is reportedly near completing the long-awaited fifth installment, titled Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. So that leaves two scenarios: Either Phoenix will be renamed when it hits the big screen, or Rowling is secretly plotting an eighth book. read more

GOOD HAIR DAY

ABC has signed a one-year talent holding deal with Marissa Jaret Winokur, the breakout star of the new Broadway blockbuster Hairspray. The pact calls for the network to develop a project specifically for the actress — who previously was best known for her tiny role as Kevin Spacey's fast food sidekick in American Beauty. read more

ANOTHER ROUND

Picture Cheers barflies Cliff and Norm as cops and you've got the basic premise of a new CBS sitcom. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Eye Network has ordered a comedy pilot from former Cheers producers Dan Staley and Rob Long about a widow who runs a bar frequented by police officers. read more

MISSILE ATTACK

Another headache for Johnny Knoxville: A woman injured during the filming of a never-aired Jackass stunt is suing MTV and Viacom. Wendy Linden claims cast member David England knocked her to the ground while using his body as a missile. All this just in time for the Friday debut of Jackass: The Movie. read more

Will Ferrell Gives SNL's New Dubya An A!


Among the 8 million people who watched Chris Parnell's debut as George W. Bush last weekend on Saturday Night Live was his wildly popular presidential predecessor, Will Ferrell. Now, for the first time, the 35-year-old funnyman — who left NBC's sketch comedy in May to focus on his film career — casts a vote of support for his replacement.

"I thought he was fantastic," Ferrell tells TV Guide Online, adding that he had no inkling exec producer Lorne Michaels was going to elect Parnell as the new commander in chief. "I was pleasantly surprised. I think Chris is kind of a surprising choice, but once I saw it, great choice."

After spending three years in the Oval Office, Ferrell knows a thing o read more

ER Newcomer Lashes Out!


Apparently, the meek shall inherit the ER. On tonight's episode of NBC's medical drama, mild-mannered med student Michael Gallant finally lives up to his name when, after suffering months of abuse at the hands of the arrogant Dr. Pratt, he musters up the courage to strike back.

"Pretty much, he takes a stand," explains Sharif Atkins, Gallant's relieved portrayer. "He's been really a by-the-book, follow-the-rules, do-what-you've-been-told kind of guy. A good soldier. But part of being a leader and part of being your own person is knowing when to follow and when to lead — and then knowing when to take the lead."

A disagreement over how to treat two different patients causes the Army recruit to snap... or as Atkins puts it, "come into full bloom." As a result, the Gallant/Pratt power struggle is forever altered. "Not that he'll cease be read more

Meet Katie Holmes's Biggest Fan


Hmm... The stressed-out, overachieving college senior Katie Holmes plays in Abandon just happens to be named Katie, too. Coincidence? Nope! The film's writer-director, Stephen Gaghan — an Oscar-winner for his Traffic screenplay — is a die-hard fan.

"It's the furthest thing from a coincidence that exists in the movie business," quips Gaghan, who makes his feature directorial debut with this psychological thriller (opening Friday). "I wrote Abandon for Katie Holmes... Every movie I've written, I wrote with actors in mind. I wrote that policeman role in Traffic for Benicio del Toro. I'm goofy, but I read more

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