Today's News: Our Take

Second Chance for Popular Pair?

Although the WB is expelling Popular after tonight's broadcast (at 9 pm/ET), two of the high school dramedy's classmates deserve to graduate with honors to a spinoff — and we aren't talking about teacher's pets Leslie Bibb and Carly Pope, either. As varsity vipers Nicole Julian and Mary Cherry, Tammy Lynn Michaels and Leslie Grossman dressed like silver screen golden girls and spat insults that would make Anne Robinson cry. So imagine what would happen if the social-climbing California girls were set loose in Manhattan...

"God almighty, the laughter would never end!" Michaels tells TV Guide Online. "Grossman and I would take that town by storm! Nicole and Mary Cherry would do stuff like fake working at Barney's because they wouldn't hire us. And Nicole would probably make a play for the mayor and try to get in the news."

Unfortunately, a sitcom spotlighting the campiest co-stars since Be read more

Charmed Casts More Than a Spell

Now that churlish Charmed enchantress Shannen Doherty has hung up her pointy black hat, every wannabe Wiccan in Hollywood is reciting incantations in hopes that she will be picked to round out the coven of remaining co-stars Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs. Even Survivor: The Australian Outback antagonist Jerri Manthey has, figuratively speaking, parked her broomstick outside producer Aaron Spelling's office.

"Oh, absolutely!" the wicked witch of Oz tells TV Guide Online. "I'm all over it. Somebody should plant that seed."

Unfortunately for Manthey, a well documented mean streak alone won't get her handed the keys to Doherty's cauldron. "I'm glad she would be interested [in signing on]," cackles a rep for Spelling TV. "Frankly, I just don't see it. But thank you for making me laugh."

Assuming that Manthey's hocus-pocus will never enthrall TV read more

Matrix 2 is Renamed

The first of two upcoming Matrix sequels — slated for a Christmas 2002 release — has been given an official name: The Matrix: Reloaded. Both pics are being shot simultaneously, which makes sense considering executive producer Joel Silver describes them as "essentially one movie shown in two halves."

Certainly, Silver — whose credits include four Lethal Weapon films, two Die Hards and two Predators — knows his way around a sequel. But the two-time Razzie award winner insists that the second and third Matrix chapters won't be your standard issue follow-ups.

"[Writer-directors Larry and Andy Wachowski] wrote The Matrix as a long story," explains Silver, whose latest project, the John Travolta crime thriller Swordfish, opens June 8. "They wanted to tell a superhero story, so they created this world where one could be a superhero and it would be believable, because you're in read more

Sam Neill's Sinking Career

Sam Neill's acting career has been deep-sixed — but in a good way. Having sprinkled his filmography with triumphant turns in nautical flicks like Dead Calm and The Hunt for Red October, he's gone back in the water. This time, he's playing a stoic mariner out to rescue a sunken sub's crew in the NBC teleplay Submerged (airing Sunday at 9 pm/ET).

"There does seem to be a bit of a saltwater stream running through things," Neill jokes, adding: "Actually, if you have to do a film at sea, it's probably better to do a submarine film because I get very sea sick. When I did Red October, the U.S. Navy was nice enough to take me out for a weekend on a sub. And the good thing about submarines is that — although they're slightly confining — you don't get any sense of being in rough water. You're deep enough so that it's very still and silent down there. You don't even know you're moving."

Fortunately, Neill barely had a moment to fuss o read more

How Regis "Disappointed" Kathie Lee

When talk show refugee Kathie Lee Gifford was named host of this year's Daytime Emmys (airing tomorrow at 9 pm/ET on NBC), TV aficionados practically salivated at the idea of a showdown — er, reunion — between Lee and her ex-Live co-host Regis Philbin. Then we were robbed when Philbin and All My Children star Susan Lucci instead opted to debut their nightclub act in Atlantic City on Emmy night. Gifford clearly feels cheated too, but instead of just grousing about it, she's firing back with a mother's greatest weapon: a guilt trip.

"I'm really disappointed," she tells TV Guide Online. "I think Regis being there and Susan's being there would just add so much more fun to the event and so much more heightened suspense. I'm disappointed for everybody's sake, especially the fans. Personally I'd love to see them, but the fans that are watching would get a big hoot out of seeing both of them."

How would Gifford feel if nine-time loser Ph read more

Nicole Kidman's Jay Talk

Over the years, Jay Leno's couch has been the first major post-scandal pit stop for many a celebrity. Remember Hugh Grant's sheepish mea culpa after the Divine Brown incident back in '95? Or when Ellen DeGeneres took it on Jay's chin after her oh-so-public split with Anne Heche? Tonight, Leno has Nicole Kidman — a.k.a. the estranged Mrs. Tom Cruise — in the hot seat. How did he swing such a coup?

"You book 'em based on trust," the Tonight Show host tells TV Guide Online. "Sometimes I'll call a guest myself and say, 'Hey, do you want to come on and talk about this?' Look, obviously I'm not Tom Brokaw or Barbara Walters. A lot of celebrities are sensitive to things, and maybe overly so. So they sort of use our show to test the waters a little bit, to see how people's reaction is."

But isn't the subject of Kidman's recent miscarriage and impending divorce rather tender territory for a late-night co read more

Crisis in the West Wing?

West Wing-ers can relax: The show's creator, Aaron Sorkin, assures TV Guide Online that his recent drug arrest will have absolutely no impact on the Emmy-winning NBC drama. "The law is going to require me to do some things," he says, "and I'm gonna be able to do them without the show being affected at all."

Last month, Sorkin was arrested at a Los Angeles-area airport on suspicion of carrying drugs and later was charged with possessing hallucinogenic mushrooms, rock cocaine and marijuana. He has since pleaded not guilty and is eligible for a drug diversion program.

Although the 39-year-old producer-writer concedes that it's been a difficult month, he adds that it could have been a lot worse were it not for his faithful cheering section. "I've had great support from my family, friends, everybody at the show, everybody at NBC and Warner Bros.," he says. "I feel good."

Sorkin would feel even better if he had a job to go to read more

Kingsley Applauds ABC's Dear Diary

Oscar winner Ben Kingsley — who starred as Oskar Schindler's Jewish accountant in Schindler's List and who headlines ABC's wrenching holocaust miniseries, Anne Frank (airing Sunday and Monday at 9 pm/ET) — has no patience for critics who say there are just too many death camp dramas coming out of Hollywood.

"How dare they!" scowls the actor in an interview with TV Guide Online. "Poor souls who want to anesthetize themselves against the realities of life. This dark period of our history happened, and people who don't want to face it are in bad shape."

In Anne Frank — based on Austrian journalist Melissa Muller's 1998 book Anne Frank: The Biography — Kingsley portrays Otto Frank, the young heroine's father and the only survivor in his family. "There is an element of Otto that allowed him to survive the camps, and [gave him] the will — every day of his life after Anne's death — to say read more

Invisible Fans Anything But

If the sophomore season of The Invisible Man (airing Fridays at 8 pm/ET on the Sci Fi Channel) has left some viewers feeling as if their lives are flashing before their eyes, it's not entirely unwarranted. But rest easy, kids, it's not your lives... just your names.

As series star Brandy Ledford (aka superspy Alex Monroe) whispers to TV Guide Online, the show is paying tribute to the many Internet fans who dissect the program on a weekly basis. "If you watch the new main titles closely, in between the cuts, they're flashing up the screen names of fans." Why? "The show understands the importance of fans, more so than most other shows."

As proof of that fact, Ledford offers up tales from her days as Baywatch's bikini-clad lifeguard, Dawn Masterton. "It was a huge international show, but they weren't doing it for the fans. It became sort of self-indulgent and self-aggrandizing. But on this show, we're so well-received by the fans."

The actress, who fi read more

Will &#038 Grace Star Moves Into Trailer!

While on summer hiatus from Will &#038 Grace, Megan Mullally — who plays tart-tongued Manhattanite Karen Walker — has left behind the trappings of not-so-polite society. Especially her rich witch character's high-pitched voice.

"It's really very grating isn't it?" she grins. "It does not befit a wealthy resident of the Upper East Side. You'd think Karen would take some of her money and get it surgically altered or something."

Of course, her less than dulcet tones are hardly Karen's worst flaw — she mainly lives to dress down and rank out everyone in her path. In fact, Mullally's a bit concerned about fan response to her alter ego's cutting commentary. "A lot of people come up to me and say, 'Oh god, I'm just like Karen, that's what they [tell me] at the office,'" she laughs. "I'm like, 'You know what? The people in your office may not be giving you a compliment. You may be getting fired soon.'"

The sass read more

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