Today's News: Our Take


Punk'd Star's No Dope


Ashton Kutcher's former Punk'd cohort, Dax Shepard, makes his big-screen acting debut in the new comedy Without a Paddle (opening Aug. 20). He plays Tom, a lovable boozer and pothead with a tendency toward dishonesty. Sounds like a piece of cake for Dax, right? Actually, the 29-year-old UCLA grad (who majored in anthropology) insists his doofy slacker role really was a stretch.

"In Paddle, I play a guy who is compensating for not having an education," Shepard explains. "I think of my character as someone who is as intelligent as Dan [Seth Green's character], but Dan had good parents and went to medical school and became a doctor, and Tom just went to jail. So he's trying to make up for the fact that he knows nothing, and feel smart by lying a lot and trying to be an expert at something."

How did Shepard make his jump from bookworm to MTV prankster in real life? "I actually made the transition from acting to a read more

CALISTA'S FRAGILE

In her first major role since Ally McBeal went kaput, Calista Flockhart has signed on to play a (presumably rail-thin) nurse employed at a desolate children's hospital in the indie flick Fragile, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Shooting starts later this month in Barcelona. Fasting, however, begins immediately. read more

ALIEN NATION

Alien vs. Predator scared up some serious coin at the weekend box office, debuting at No. 1 with a monstrous $38.3 million. Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement finished a strong No. 2 with $23 million, bringing its five-day total to $37.2 million. Tom Cruise's Collateral slipped to third with $16 million, followed by Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie (No. 4 with $9.4 million) and The Bourne Supremacy (No. 5 with $8.3 million). read more

NEW NANNY

The star of Mark Burnett's upcoming semiautobiographical WB sitcom Commando Nanny has been let go just weeks before the show's premiere. According to Variety, Philip Winchester was dropped after he broke his foot in an accident. He has been replaced by newcomer Owain Yeoman, who will probably break his agent's foot when he figures out what a dud this show is. read more

HOWDY, STRANGER

Strangers with Candy goofball Amy Sedaris is the frontrunner to replace Craig Kilborn as host of CBS's Late Late Show, the New York Post reports. read more

LEGAL THRILLER

Dressed in a white suit, Michael Jackson returned to court Monday to face off against his longtime nemesis, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon. The hearing focused on whether Sneddon violated attorney-client privilege when he invaded the office of a private investigator who worked for Jackson's former lawyer, Mark Geragos. To psych himself up for the showdown, Jacko made a surprise visit to Los Angeles' First AME Church on Sunday with an entourage that included current lawyer Tom Mesereau Jr., brother Randy and, standing in for Nick and Aaron Carter, comedian Steve Harvey. read more

GREECE IS THE WORD

NBC's telecast of Friday's Olympics opening ceremonies attracted 56 million viewers, the third-highest-rated summer games debut ever. All together now: "Opa!" read more

WONDERFUL NEWS

Lynda Carter better gas up that invisible jet. The erstwhile Wonder Woman will play the principal of a high school for superpowered teens in the Disney family comedy Sky High. The pic also stars Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston and Dave Foley. read more

BIG TEASE

J.K. Rowling has dropped a big clue about the seventh and final Harry Potter book. Appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Sunday, Rowling told a group of fans that the young wizard "will survive to book seven." Asked to reveal the title of the last installment, she replied: "I'm not going to tell you. I'm sorry. My agent would have me hunted down and killed." Yeah, but at least we'd know the title. read more

IN RELATED NEWS...

The California attorney general's office has reportedly concluded that Jackson was not "manhandled" by sheriff's deputies when he was taken into custody last year on molestation charges. Jackson had claimed deputies handcuffed him in a way they knew was "going to hurt" and banished him to a feces-smeared restroom for 45 minutes. I knew something about that story just didn't smell right. read more

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