Today's News: Our Take


SHORT CUTS

CBS is developing a Punk'd-type series to be hosted by ex-SNLer Jon Lovitz, per The Hollywood Reporter... Wanda Sykes is in early talks to play the Lily Tomlin role in a remake of the 1984 switching-persons comedy All of Me. There's no word who'll step into Steve Martin's shoes... Finally, let's give a big round of applause to fill-in columnist Ben Katner for a job, well, adequately done during my weeklong vacation. Thanks, Ben! read more

FALLEN IDOL RISING

Nearly 14 million viewers watched Corey Clark tarnish Paula Abdul's undistinguished name and reputation on ABC's special Idol-themed Primetime Live Wednesday night. Combined with a huge turnout for Lost, ABC scored a rare Hump Day victory over American Idol-fueled Fox among total viewers. CBS, meanwhile, failed to get much traction from Dr. Phil's exclusive sit-down with atonement-seeking voice-mail bandit Pat O'Brien. The special attracted a paltry 7.4 million viewers — 1.6 million of whom were also into Betsy. It's official: That joke never gets old. read more

THE SITH ELEMENT

The first reviews for Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith are in, and as Yoda might say, "Awful, this one isn't." Variety says the final chapter in George Lucas' space saga "irons out most of the problems [from Episodes I and II], and emerges as the best in the overall series since The Empire Strikes Back." The Hollywood Reporter, meanwhile, calls the film "genuinely thrilling," adding that Lucas "ends the six-movie series on such a high note that one feels like yelling out, "Rewind!" And yours truly, who caught a preview screening last night just hours after returning from a weeklong vacation, raves, "This almost makes up for that Jar-Jar debacle... I said almost. Furthermore, how much did everyone miss me?" read more

GOT MILK?

X-Men auteur Bryan Singer, who's currently at work on Superman Returns, has been tapped to direct a biopic on gay icon Harvey Milk. The long-gestating project, based on Randy Shilts' seminal book The Mayor of Castro Street, would chronicle the life and assassination of Milk — the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office in the U.S. read more

TO PLEA OR NOT TO PLEA?

That's the question facing whacked Sopranos kingpin Vincent Pastore (that's Big Pussy to you), who is said to be mulling a plea deal in connection with charges that he assaulted his girlfriend in April. If he accepts the D.A.'s olive branch, the actor would serve five days of community service and attend a batterers' program. And no, that's not a fat joke, people. read more

CRISIS MANAGEMENT

Speaking of Abdul, The Insider is reporting that the embattled minx will make an appearance on this weekend's Saturday Night Live. She'll then head home with the youngest, skankiest member of the crew. read more

MIA

Everwood fans may notice something missing when the drama airs its third-season finale on May 23: leading man Gregory Smith. As first reported in Ask Ausiello, Smith will exit the show on May 16 when Ephram (spoiler alert!) heads to Europe to start a new life. "Ultimately," exec producer Rina Mimoun explains, "because of everything that happened with Madison, Ephram realizes that he's got to get away from his father." Although Mimoun says she "treasures" Smith, she believes writing Ephram out will "reinforce that this show is more and more becoming an ensemble that doesn't rely on the star power of one or two key players." Mimoun, meanwhile, hints that Smith could remain MIA next fall. "We may want to keep [fans] guessing for a while." That's cruel! read more

GRANDE SCANDAL

Starbucks has refused to sell Bruce Springsteen's new Devils & Dust CD at its stores due to the sexually explicit lyrics contained in the song "Reno." Despite the sudden attack of conscience, the coffee giant says it has no plans to halt its policy of raping its customers at the cash register. read more

TICK, TOCK...

With Fox's four-year license deal with 24 set to expire this season, the New York Post is reporting that NBC has expressed interest in acquiring the real-time thriller. Insiders speculate that the Peacock would plug the show into one of the 74 holes it has in its schedule. read more

HOT AND HEAVY

In what's being billed as the network's "most aggressive summer schedule ever," CBS will launch three new reality series in June, per Variety. The new entries include Mark Burnett's American Idol-like competition, Rock Star: INXS, Tommy Hilfiger's Project Runway rip-off The Cut and Fire Me... Please, a show in which two newly hired workers vie to get fired by 3 pm that day. In addition, the network will debut a sixth round of Big Brother, featuring a new, two-story house built in the same studio that Yes, Dear once called home. I can't be certain, but I think that's CBS' subtle way of saying Brother will suck worse than it usually does. read more

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