Today's News: Our Take


SOPRANOS HIT WITH LAWSUIT

A New York judge and former prosecutor is claiming he had a hand in creating HBO's The Sopranos — and now he wants some cash for his efforts. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Robert Baer insists he suggested a TV show about mobsters and met with series creator David Chase on several occasions to give him the scoop on organized crime in New Jersey. He claims Chase agreed that if the show took off, he would be "appropriately compensated." read more

NEW DEAL

Bob Costas has signed a new, multi-year contract with NBC Sports. Costas, a pillar at the Peacock Network for more than two decades, will continue to host NBC's Olympic coverage and also take on additional sports and entertainment assignments. "It's a perfect combination of events and a schedule that works professionally and personally," said the venerable anchor, who also hosts HBO's On the Record and Inside the NFL. "I couldn't be happier that we were able to work it out." read more

BYE BYE BRYANT

On tonight's 20/20 — airing 10 pm/ET on ABC — Barbara Walters quizzes CBS Early Show host Bryant Gumbel about quitting morning TV. "It is probably harder to walk away from failure," he admits, "and I guess some people would argue this was! But in this instance, it's just the right thing to do." The divorcé also denies committing adultery with his current fiancée — and explains that famed friction with his old Today co-host Katie Couric. "I don't know if I'd call it tension," Gumbel hedges. "Katie and I were never really close." read more

ROSIE'S BIG NIGHT

Exiting talk show host Rosie O'Donnell received some very nice parting gifts Friday night: A pair of Daytime Emmy Awards. O'Donnell won her sixth Emmy for outstanding talk show host and her program, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, was named best talk show for the fifth time. Elsewhere, ABC's resurgent soap One Life to Live was named best daytime drama for the first time in its 34 year history. To view the winners list, click here. TV Guide Online's Soaps section will have complete coverage of the 29th Daytime Emmys on Monday. read more

GERE STALKER UPDATE

A German woman accused of stalking Richard Gere avoided jail time Thursday by pleading guilty to aggravated harassment. Ursula Reichert-Habbishaw — who allegedly called or faxed Gere as many as 1,000 times and showed up six times at his Manhattan office — was sentenced to a conditional discharge. In other words, she was free to go if she agreed to return to Germany and leave the 52-year-old actor alone. read more

SHORT CUTS

Where in the world was Today's Matt Lauer this morning, the fifth and final day of his popular globe-trotting series? Cannes, France... Sitcom star Bernie Mac is in final negotiations to star opposite Chris Rock in the political comedy Head of State, according to The Hollywood Reporter... Hip-hop star Ja Rule announced on Tuesday that he plans to retire after two more albums to focus on a film career. read more

BOX OFFICE WARS

Final numbers aren't in yet, but Star Wars: Episode II &#150 Attack of the Clones grossed an estimated $6-$8 million at the box office from midnight screenings on Wednesday. In related news, Hayden Christensen (aka Anakin Skywalker) is in talks to star in the film Shattered Glass, the true story of a whiz-kid journalist who was later exposed as a fraud. read more

CONGRATULATIONS!

Friends delivered another season-ending twist Thursday night — and we're not referring to Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) giving birth to little Emma. During the final minutes of the hour-long episode, the new mom accepted Joey's (Matt LeBlanc) inadvertent marriage proposal. Not surprisingly, the finale scored a spectacular 23.6 rating and 35 share — clobbering the penultimate episode of Survivor: Marquesas. As a result, CBS will rebroadcast last night's Survivor on Saturday at 8 pm/ET. read more

THE NEXT SPIELBERG?

Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst — a skateboarding fanatic since the late '70s — has signed on to direct Lords of Dogtown, a feature that takes an extreme look at the birth of the teenage skateboarding revolution, Variety reports. Although Durst has directed numerous music videos, this will be his first stab at helming a feature film. Shooting begins this summer in California. read more

SPEAKING OF SURVIVOR...

Sean Rector, the 30-year-old teacher from Harlem, New York, became the latest contestant voted off Survivor: Marquesas Thursday night. "I just know that, through it all, it's been a blast," he said after learning his fate. "I am just a humble young man trying to find my way through the world. God bless America." The ultimate Survivor will be crowned during Sunday night's two-hour finale (8 pm/ET). But the secret is already out: Rosie O'Donnell — who will emcee Sunday's live Survivor reunion (10 pm/ET) — announced on her talk show today that she has already seen the final episode and knows who wins. read more

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