Today's News: Our Take


SHORT CUTS

Thursday's hourlong Will & Grace earned the show its best 18-49 rating of the season and its third best viewer total ever... CBS has given a full-season order to its freshman hospital drama Presidio Med... Phil Donahue's struggling MSNBC talk show will remain on the air at least until the New Year... Sally Struthers (All in the Family) and Debbie Allen will guest star as an interracial lesbian couple on the Jan. 19 episode of Lifetime's The Division. read more

WHAT ABOUT JOAN?

Joan Cusack has joined the cast of Paramount's upcoming Stepford Wives remake. The Frank Oz-helmed pic starts shooting in June with Nicole Kidman playing the lead role. read more

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A certain boy wizard proved no match for the world's greatest super agent. Die Another Day, the 20th James Bond film, debuted atop the box office over the weekend with $47 million — the best Bond opening in history. That bumped last week's champ, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, to No. 2 with $42.4 million. Harry's 10-day total stands at $148.5 million. Rounding out the top five: Friday After Next (No. 3 with $13.1 million), The Santa Clause 2 (No. 4 with $10.3 million) and 8 Mile (No. 5 with $8.7 million). read more

JUMPING FOR JOY

Richard Grieco, call your agent! Paramount Pictures is developing a big-screen version of Fox's 1980s cop drama 21 Jump Street — the series that launched Johnny Depp's career. The film will be written by Jump co-creators Stephen J. Cannell and Patrick Hasburgh. read more

IN RELATED NEWS...

Did Steven Seagal pay a private eye to threaten a Los Angeles Times reporter who was investigating the action star's alleged ties to the Mafia? Seagal insists he didn't, but according to an FBI informant, the actor hired celeb detective Anthony Pellicano (who in turn hired ex-con Alexander Proctor) to intimidate journalist Anita Busch. "This is part of an unrelenting campaign to disparage Mr. Seagal and reads like a bad screenplay," Seagal's attorney, Martin R. Pollner, told The Associated Press. Pellicano was jailed Thursday on unrelated weapons charges. read more

RECOVERING

Character actress Frances Bay, 83, best known for her role as Adam Sandler's grandmother in Happy Gilmore, remains in critical condition after being struck by a car in Glendale, Calif., on Thursday. Bay's right leg had to be amputated below the knee. Bay also appeared in a memorable Seinfeld playing an elderly woman mugged by Jerry over a loaf of rye bread. read more

SHRINK WHACKED?

Sopranos fans are attempting to analyze this today: Did Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) essentially get whacked on last night's episode? In what came as a bit of a shock to viewers, a frustrated Tony (James Gandolfini) suddenly quit therapy — leaving the fate of Bracco's therapist up in the air. Is the actress — who recently replaced Kathleen Turner in The Graduate on Broadway — leaving the mob drama? "We don't discuss plot points," says an HBO rep. Well, we're going to go out on a limb and assume that Tony's days on the couch are far from over. read more

THE PARTY PLANNER

Malcolm in the Middle's Frankie Muniz is about to find himself in the center of some illicit fun. The actor is attached to star in an untitled MGM comedy playing a kid who is forced to plan a bachelor party for his older brother, Variety reports. Muniz will next appear in the teen spy flick Agent Cody Banks (due in March). read more

Ice Cube: Image Isn't Everything


Eminem isn't the first hip-hopper to make the jump from controversial upstart to mainstream icon by doing movies. Nowadays, Ice Cube is your typical Hollywood hyphenate — you know, actor/producer/director. We barely remember when he was known only as a member of N.W.A., the gangsta rap group that caught flack from the FBI (among many others) for songs like "F--- tha Police!" His kinder, gentler roles in Barbershop and the Friday trilogy — Friday After Next opens today — are a marked change from his tough guy persona. As Cube tells TV Guide Online, this is purely a professional transition.

"I'm not worried about image," he insists. "Rap music is a different thing from acting. It's ego-driven. There's a lot read more

Seven Silly Questions for George Gray

Remember when tart-tongued quizmistress Anne Robinson was the hottest thing on TV, and everyone was going around cracking, "You are the weakest link — goodbye"? Well, those days are long gone, thankfully. But the fast-paced game show still lives on in syndication, where it airs five times a week with emcee George Gray. And while the onetime host of TLC's Junkyard Wars may not be as sassy as his flame-haired counterpart, he's just as quick with the one-liner — as he proved when we confronted him with seven rather silly questions.

TV Guide Online: What ever happened to Mrs. Robinson?
George Gray:
Actually, we broke up. She calls me now and again, but I had to put out a restraining order. It's all very painful.

TVGO: Do you resent the fact that you can't wear her black dominatrix outfits?
Gray:
Who says I don't. Oh, you mean on the show.

read more

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