Today's News: Our Take


MERCY KILLING

You may want to steer clear of John McEnroe today. Any minute now, CNBC is expected to pull the plug on the short-tempered tennis ace's struggling talk show. Ever since debuting last summer, McEnroe has caused nary a blip on Nielsen's radar. In fact, viewership was so low at times that it couldn't even be measured — a horror even WB's The Mountain hasn't suffered. The Big Deal with Donnie Deutsch is expected to take over the show's 10 pm time slot. read more

STORK REPORT

Actress Laura Dern and musician Ben Harper are the parents of a baby girl, born Nov. 28 at Dern's Los Angeles pad. A name wasn't released but, knowing these Hollywood types like I do, it'll probably be Eggshell or something. read more

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE

X-Philes everywhere are expressing concern about the health of their favorite alien huntress, Gillian Anderson. The 36-year-old actress showed up at Tuesday's British Independent Film Awards sporting a new blond 'do — and looking shockingly gaunt. In one snapshot, Anderson's rib cage could be seen sticking out of the side of her white halter-neck dress. Even more worrisome, eyewitnesses reported seeing black oil dripping from her nose. read more

SECOND CHANCE

Ashlee Simpson will headline a concert for AOL Monday — and this time she's promising it'll be live. The show will be held at Los Angeles' El Rey Theatre and be broadcast live on AOL's radio network. In a statement, the walking punch line said she's "really looking forward" to the gig and blaming her drummer if anything goes wrong. read more

SHORT CUTS

USA Network will shell out $1.92 million an episode for Law & Order: Criminal Intent reruns... Fox is developing Darkside, a Lost-like thriller about a bunch of astronauts who discover a mysterious compound on the Moon, Variety reports... Venture capitalist-cum-stripper Ivana got the boot on last night's Apprentice, narrowing the field of contestants to four. If you've got questions for venture capitalist-cum-stripper Ivana, send them to me ASAP. Extra consideration will be given to all those who refer to her as venture capitalist-cum-stripper Ivana. read more

BIG NEWS

Tom Brokaw's Nightly News swan song Wednesday attracted more than 15 million viewers. It was the newscast's largest audience in eight years. For more on this, read today's "Biz" column. read more

THE BIGGEST FINALE

The winner of The Biggest Loser will be crowned in a special, live, 90-minute episode on Jan. 11. In other NBC scheduling news, Mark Burnett's boxing saga The Contender — featuring Sylvester Stallone — will premiere on Monday Feb. 21 before moving to its regular 8 pm/ET hour on Tuesday, March 1. read more

FINDING NEVERLAND

Santa Barbara police raided Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch Friday, apparently to search for more evidence (Jesus Juice, anyone?) in connection with his child molestation case. He faces trial next year. Meanwhile, I wasn't kidding. Who wants Jesus Juice? I've got five cans left. read more

OLD SAINT NICK?

Parents of a teenage girl who was allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted at a party at Nick Nolte's home two years ago are suing the actor. The suit claims that Nolte, who wasn't home at the time, was negligent because his security officer supplied the assailants with the alcohol and drugs used in the attack. Plus, he's kinda an easy target these days. read more

PASSIONATE FOR MEL

An L.A. judge has ordered Passion of the Christ aficionado Zack Sinclair, 34, to stand trial for stalking Mel Gibson. Sinclair, a homeless man who's currently in jail, allegedly sent Passion's devoutly Catholic director some "alarming, harassing and annoying" letters insisting that they pray together. He even showed up to plead his case at Gibson's home and his favorite chapel, all of which led to his arrest. read more

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