Today's News: Our Take


PARK STRIKES WHILE IRON IS HOT

Ray Park — whose Darth Maul was the best thing about Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace — will play the title role in a movie version of the Iron Fist comic book. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Park stars as Danny Rand, "a Westerner raised in a mystical secret temple who can channel his life force into his fist and strike with the force of iron. As an adult, Rand returns to the United States to seek revenge for his parents' murders." Artisan Entertainment — the studio bringing the Marvel Comics character to life — is still looking for a director. read more

SHE'S HAVING A BABY

Former Ellen actress Joely Fisher — recently seen as John Goodman's sis on the failed Fox sitcom Normal, Ohio — is expecting her first child with cinematographer-hubby Christopher Duddy in June, Liz Smith reports. read more

MUSIC'S BIG DAY

Dr. Dre, Eminem, Destiny's Child and Madonna were the big winners when nominations for the 43rd annual Grammy Awards were announced this morning in Los Angeles. With five nods, pioneering rapper Dr. Dre tied Beyonce Knowles of Destiny's Child as the most nominated artist. Destiny's Child members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson and current member Kelly Rowland won four nominations, as did Eminem, whose controversial Marshall Mathers LP is up for Album of the Year. Newlywed Madonna picked up three nominations for her hit single "Music." Also receiving three nods: 'N Sync, U2, Macy Gray and Steely Dan. Rival pop divas Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears will face off in the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category for "What a Girl Wants" and "Oops!... I Did It Again," respectively. Vying for Record of the Year are Destiny's Child ("Say My Name"), 'N Sync ("Bye Bye Bye"), Madonn read more

SCI FI CHANNEL ON EDGE

The Sci Fi Channel has committed to airing 13 episodes of the drama series News from the Edge, about a journalist who takes a job at a tabloid and finds out that the outlandish stories it prints are true, Variety reports. NBC — which had been considering Edge for a midseason slot — officially rejected the project last fall. The cast includes Melrose Place alum Rena Sofer, who recently was tapped for a multi-episode stint on NBC's Ed. read more

CLAIRE DANES IN LOVE

Claire Danes has been tapped to star in the romantic pic It's All About Love, to be helmed by Danish director Thomas Vinterberg — the filmmaker behind the acclaimed Cannes darling Festen (The Celebration) — Variety reports. Danes was attached to star in the Jodie Foster-directed Flora Plum, but that film is on hold due to Russell Crowe's shoulder injury. read more

MORE GREEN FOR GRINCH

ABC and the Disney Channel have acquired shared-broadcast rights of 2000's top-grossing flick, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. According to Variety, the $60 million, 10-year pact allows the two networks to alternately air the film beginning in fall 2004. read more

George Clooney, Singing Sensation?


Since breaking away from his full-time primetime TV gig in 1999, former ER star George Clooney — whose career got a major boost with last summer's smash hit, The Perfect Storm — admits that the sheer volume of scripts being offered to him has jacked up considerably.

"I'm in a position now where I'm getting offered a lot," the actor tells TV Guide Online, "The nice thing is that, as you work with [directors like] Steven [Soderbergh] and Joel and Ethan Coen, and then something like Three Kings comes out, the quality of the projects is better and/or you get an earlier crack at them."

One part Clooney was surprised to find himself filling was that of impromptu bluegrass singer Everett McGill in the Coen brothers' latest offering, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. "The first bad sign," he says, recalling the conclusion of his first recording session for the film, "was when I looked up, and I couldn't get any eye read more

Esposito Takes Flight in Dracula


Jennifer Esposito literally jumped at the chance to do her own stunts in Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2000. But the actress — who plays a gravity-defying vampire in the thriller — may have gotten more than she bargained for.

"I get to throw people through windows, I get to fly... when am I going to do that in real life?" says Esposito, perhaps best known as Michael J. Fox's former assistant on Spin City. "I told the director [Patrick Lussier] in my audition, 'I was a gymnast for eight years,' because I knew there would be a lot of stunts, and I love them.

"Then it became a running joke that every time a stunt came up, I would repeat, 'I was a gymnast for eight years!' And Patrick would say, 'Oh, really?'"

While Esposito relished the physical challenges required of the role, the self-professed claustrophobic found other aspects of the shoot vexing. "I had to get a cast made of my head for special effects, and they put p read more

QUALITY TV IS DEAD

Viewers for Quality Television, the 16-year-old non-profit group that championed the best of TV, will close up shop due to declining membership and scarce funds. "Rather than let the organization become a shadow of its former self... we thought it was better to stop now and be remembered with the credibility that we worked so hard for the organization to have," founder Dorothy Collins Swanson told The Associated Press. Swanson's efforts to save the cop drama Cagney & Lacey led to VQT's formation in 1984. read more

Babe: The Pig's Tale Continues?


As sublime a tearjerker as it was, 1998's Babe: Pig in the City didn't bring home the box-office bacon that its predecessor did. But, according to E.G. Daily — the voice of the porcine protagonist — that little piggy still may be coming back to a multiplex near you.

"There was talk [about another sequel] a while back," she tells TV Guide Online. And if the pig flies, she'll be as eager to sign up as a hog is to chow down. "I'd do it in a heartbeat!"

In the meantime, Daily hopes that director George Miller will be cleared of charges that he made Pig in the City too bleak for children. "After they edited it, it wound up being darker than it was originally," asserts the actress, an on-camera mainstay in 1980s teen flicks such as Valley Girl. "If they'd released a director's version, it would've been better.

"It's still a piece of art," she adds. "It is dark. But I think it's a masterpiece."

Having mouthed off as carto read more

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