Today's News: Our Take


Could Sylvester Stallone's movie career be back on the fast track? Probably not, but his latest flick, the racecar actioner Driven, finished first at the box office over the weekend with a decent $13.1 million. The film's audience was 60 percent male, which explains why the female-targeted Bridget Jones's Diary continued to thrive despite its new competition. In its third weekend of release, the Renée Zellweger romantic comedy slipped to No. 2 with a still-potent $7.5 million. Rounding out the top five were Spy Kids and Along Came a Spider (tied at No. 3 with $5.7 million) and Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles (No. 5 with $4.7 million). Meanwhile, the long-delayed $80 million bad-buzz magnet Town &#038 Country — starring Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn — defied the industry's already lowered expectations by opening at No. 7 with a dismal $3.1 million. Two other newcomers also read more


The primary voices behind The Simpsons are this close to signing a new deal with 20th Century Fox Television that would hike their respective salaries from $70,000 to $100,000 an episode for the next two seasons, Variety reports. What's more, the pact includes a $1 million bonus as well as an option for a third season that will pay them $125,000 per episode. read more


Halle Berry and musician-hubby Eric Benet have slapped the Star tabloid with a $5 million libel suit, the Associated Press reports. The recently wed Berry has sour grapes over an article reporting that she and her spouse are living apart and that their marriage is "on the rocks." Berry and Benet sure didn't look estranged just one week ago, when a TV Guide Online reporter happened to spot the newlyweds walking arm-in-arm on swanky Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. read more


Sharon Stone will narrate the kids' animated series Harold and the Purple Crayon, premiering in December on HBO Family... NBC's midseason comedy Kristin, featuring Broadway actress Kristin Chenowith, has been pushed back to a summer debut on June 5... Diane Keaton and Jennifer Jason Leigh have signed on to co-star in the CBS teleplay Crossed Over, based on writer Beverly Lowry's book about her friendship with convicted killer Karla Faye Tucker, the first woman ever executed in Texas. — Daniel R. Coleridge read more


Elisabeth Filarski, the sweet-natured 23-year-old footwear designer from Boston, became the latest castaway to get booted off Survivor: The Australian Outback. But the biggest shocker was how last night's episode revolved around Colby, whose victory in a Reward Challenge earned him a Pontiac Aztek SUV, a hot shower — and a full-course meal served by a mystery guest: his very own mother! Filarski's ouster leaves the Texan stud to duke it out with Tina and Keith in next week's season finale. For more, see this week's recap. read more


Ironically enough, famed French mime Marcel Marceau, 78, has become a spokesman for the aging, Reuters reports. Best known for playing a sad, silent clown, he's been named the U.N.'s goodwill ambassador for the 2002 World Assembly on Aging, which is dedicated to raising awareness of elderly needs. Said Marceau: "I am not a man of talk... What is important is action." read more


Following the example of ex-beau Sean "Puffy" Combs, Jennifer Lopez has launched her own clothing line, Reuters reports. "It's time for the world to wear my look," J.Lo declared to reporters Thursday. "From little to voluptuous, everybody gets to be sexy." Waxing sassy, she added: "Just because you dress sexy doesn't mean you're a bad girl — it just means you know how to dress." Dubbed J.Lo by Jennifer Lopez, the glad rags should hit stores by Thanksgiving. read more


Concert goers in Cairo, Egypt stunned Sting with anti-Western sentiments on Wednesday, Reuters reports. During a concert at the Giza Pyramids, the crowd booed the rock star when he was introduced instead of local crooner Hakim, who had arrived late for his set. Taking the stage, Hakim riled-up the audience even further, saying: "Whoever is willing to accept the insult of an Egyptian in Egypt can stay. Goodbye!" After the crowd simmered down, Sting apparently performed to general approval. read more

Popular Finale Packs a Punch

After including in its first season's finale death, dismemberment, a double wedding and Delta Burke, Popular no longer boasts an overstocked arsenal. So, for its sophomore-year showstopper (airing May 18 at 9 pm/ET), the WB's schizophrenic high-school dramedy is unleashing its secret weapon: Tammy Lynn Michaels as Nicole Julian, the megabitch with the cruelest intentions since Winona Ryder's Heathers clique.

"In this episode, Nicole's behavior will make the rest of her actions seem angelic," the actress promises TV Guide Online. "It's out of control. At the table reading, we usually get through the scripts guffawing. This time, all you could hear was, 'Oh my God! Oh my God!'"

Alas, Popular may not merely be ending the semester with a bang; as the WB has yet to register the series for the fall, it could also be winding up its entire run — a possibility on whic read more


Several of TV's most familiar faces have found new sitcom homes this pilot season: "Creative differences" have led to Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap) replacing Burt Reynolds in the CBS comedy pilot Late Boomers, Variety reports. Set in an ex-NFL quarterback's Chicago bar, the show also co-stars Night Court's Markie Post and Chicago Hope's Adam Arkin. And according to The Hollywood Reporter, Martin Mull has joined the cast of Ellen DeGeneres's CBS sitcom Ellen, Again, which co-stars Cloris Leachman and Welcome to New York's Jim Gaffigan. Meanwhile, Mark Harmon heads up the WB laugher No Ordinary Girl and Will Friedle (Boy Meets World) is getting his own as-yet-untitled show on UPN. read more

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