Today's News: Our Take


SHORT CUTS

With viewers glued to the cable news nets for coverage of the tsunami catastrophe, Fox News and CNN notched double-digit ratings increases this week compared to the same time last year... Johnny Depp was the most-searched celeb on IMDb.com this year. Lindsay Lohan came in second, followed by Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Hilary Duff and Brian Dunkleman. I kid. I kid. read more

Benjamin Bratt's Unemployed!


Memo to Hollywood's casting agents: Benjamin Bratt's schedule is completely open. "I have no job prospects on the horizon," admits the former Law & Order star. "The last job I worked on was Catwoman, which wrapped in February, so I haven't worked in ten months. But I'm not worried yet — it's allowed me to focus my attention on my family, which is my favorite thing to do."

Bratt does have a small part in the just-released indie film The Woodsman. He plays the genial brother-in-law of a convicted pedophile named Walter (played by Kevin Bacon). "My character's willingness to forgive and forget is a bit simplistic," admits the 41-year-old actor. "He simply wants to patch up the family and, in a straight-forward way, he feels like Walter paid his debt to society. I think there's something wrongheaded about that. Personally, I would have handled the situation in a completely different way. I don't know if I could ever forgive someon read more

CLARK UPDATE

Dick Clark, who continues to recover from a mild stroke suffered last month, will watch his annual New Year's Eve show from a hospital bed this year. "Even though I won't be in New York, there's one tradition I intend to maintain," Clark said in a statement. "As I always have in the past, at midnight I plan on kissing my wife Kari and wishing her a happy New Year." As previously reported, Regis Philbin will be pinch-hitting for Clark in Times Square this year. read more

BACK ON TOP

Eminem reclaimed the No. 1 spot on Billboard's album chart last week, selling another 430,000 copies of his latest CD, Encore. The 987th edition of Now That's What I Call Music came in second with 356,000 copies sold, followed by U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. read more

REMEMBERED

Broadway theaters dimmed their lights Wednesday night to honor song-and-dance man-turned-Law & Order star Jerry Orbach, who died Tuesday of prostate cancer. "He was an anchor who brought style, security and razzle-dazzle to our original Chicago company," said Chita Rivera, Orbach's costar in the 1975 production. "He was a swell guy." Orbach's long-time Law & Order co-star, S. Epatha Merkerson, remembered him as a "real good guy" who "had a real lust for life and the work he did, and it permeated throughout the set." NBC, meanwhile, says production of Law & Order: Trial by Jury, the franchise's latest spin-off, will proceed despite Orbach's passing. "The producers are deeply saddened," a spokesperson for the show says. "While Jerry is irreplaceable, Trial by Jury is an ensemble and will continue in production. A new member will join the company. Announcements will be forthcom read more

YEP, SHE RULES

Ellen DeGeneres found the best gift of all under her tree this Christmas: record ratings for The Ellen DeGeneres Show! For the week ending Dec. 19, Ellen averaged a 2.4 household rating — its best weekly performance to date. The show is also up 50 percent over last year. read more

SCOOP!

7th Heaven is pulling a Buffy the Vampire Slayer this February. No, the Camdens aren't going all demon-y on us; rather, they'll be breaking into song for a special musical episode airing on Valentine's Day. "It's going to be very 7th Heaven — conservative and old-fashioned," says exec producer Brenda Hampton, noting that Heaven's core couples will belt out classic tunes such as "Love Is Sweeping the Country," "You Were Meant for Me," and "You Are My Lucky Star." "We've been wanting to do one of these for a while now because a lot of the cast sing. We just could never quite get the idea or the music together for it." read more

Benjamin Bratt's Unemployed!


Memo to Hollywood's casting agents: Benjamin Bratt's schedule is completely open. "I have no job prospects on the horizon," admits the former Law & Order star. "The last job I worked on was Catwoman, which wrapped in February, so I haven't worked in ten months. But I'm not worried yet — it's allowed me to focus my attention on my family, which is my favorite thing to do."

Bratt does have a small part in the just-released indie film The Woodsman. He plays the genial brother-in-law of a convicted pedophile named Walter (played by Kevin Bacon). "My character's willingness to forgive and forget is a bit simplistic," admits the 41-year-old actor. "He simply wants to patch up the family and, in a straight-forward way, he feels like Walter paid his debt to society. I think there's something wrongheaded about that. Personally, I would have handled the situation in a completely different way. I don't know if I could ever forgive someon read more

Kevin Bacon's Risky Role


Most Hollywood stars rely on their agents, managers or personal psychics to find their next film part, but Kevin Bacon discovered his latest project, The Woodsman, by taking a stroll on the beach.

"My family and I were in the British West Indies [last] Christmas," the 46-year-old actor remembers. "It was Christmas Eve and I was walking along the beach and I saw this guy who I knew peripherally. He said to me, 'Someone sent me this script and asked me to invest in it. Would you read it and tell me if you think it would be a good investment?'"

"Normally, I would never take a screenplay under those conditions," Bacon continues. "You'd spend your whole life reading scripts if you took them from people on beaches. But I got home in early January and the script was sitting there. I picked it up and read it and went on this ride of feelings. I put it down and knew that it was probably going to be my next movie."

Not even the film's dark subject matte read more

Who is Lost's Ethan Rom?


That question has Lost fans feeling a bit lost. We know that the creepy character, played by Tom Cruise's real-life cousin William Mapother, wasn't on the downed plane's original manifest. And we know that he wants Claire's unborn baby. But why? Mapother is sworn to secrecy. All the show's producers will tell us is that his name, Ethan Rom, is an anagram for "Other Man." Great, more mysteries! So until the show returns Jan. 5 on ABC, here are the Top Four theories on just who the slimy fellow might be.

1. Ethan is the devil.
If you subscribe to the "they are in purgatory" theory, then he is coming to claim the already dead child's soul.

2. Ethan is an evil alien shape-shifter.
First, he took the form of the raging polar bear. Now he's human and, for some strange reason, he must destroy the baby and keep anything good from prospering on the island.

3. Ethan is Alex, Danielle Rousseau's lost son.
He knows somethi read more

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