Today's News: Our Take


Bottoms Up, Linda Gray!


Whatever you do, don't turn this TV Guide Online interview with Linda Gray into a drinking game. If you took a swig every time the actress, best known as Dallas's liquor-lovin' Sue Ellen Ewing, revealed something shocking about the long-running prime-time soap, you'd be halfway to pickled before your three-martini lunch even arrived. And by the time you caught the 62-year-old knockout ruminating with her cast mates on Sunday's all-star get-together, Dallas Reunion: The Return to Southfork (9 pm/ET on CBS)? Please! You'd be passed out cold. Just look at the alcohol equivalent of the tidbits she shared with us:

Champagne — the good stuff, too! Newhart innkeeper Mary Frann was originally supposed to play Sue Ellen. "She had the part," Gray confirms. "Victoria Principal was a brunet and so was I, and Mary was a blond, and [the producers] wanted that [visual] contrast. But the casting director [who had only recently tappe read more

IT'S NO CAR, BUT...

Taking a page from Oprah's book, fledgling talk-show host Tony Danza surprised all 140 members of his studio audience Thursday with week-long Miami vacations. Each package was valued at $1,800, which either means Motel 6's rates have gone up or Danza sprung for a Best Western. read more

WELCOME TO THURSDAY, BITCH

The O.C. is finding out how it's done on Thursday nights. After a six-month break, the Fox sudser kicked off its second season with a so-so 8.3 million viewers — placing it well behind CBS's Survivor and NBC's Joey/Will & Grace combo. On the bright side, Seth, Ryan and the gang beat Joey among viewers 18-34 and bested Tru Calling's performance in the time period a year ago. CSI, meanwhile, was once again Thursday's top-rated show with 30 million viewers. read more

MOTION DENIED

A judge on Thursday rejected a bid by Michael Jackson's lawyers to get the D.A. in his child molestation case removed. Judge Rodney Melville said he did not agree with Jacko's camp that D.A. Tom Sneddon had been "excessively zealous" or "threatened the integrity" of the case. The trial of the century kicks off Jan. 31. read more

EARLY ENCORE

Citing piracy concerns, Eminem has moved up the release date for his new album, Encore, to Nov. 12. It was originally scheduled to drop on Nov. 16. Similarly, Snoop Dogg's latest CD R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece, originally due Nov. 23, has been shifted to Nov. 16. read more

Daphne Zuniga's Sexy Dreams


Daphne Zuniga spent four years surrounded by bedroom bedlam on Melrose Place, but she didn't really get in on the action herself until this fall, when she joined NBC's comparatively tame '60s-set sudser, American Dreams (Sundays at 8 pm/ET). As single mother/Playboy Bunny Shelly Pierce, "I finally get to have a little fun!" she exclaims to TV Guide Online with a laugh. "I don't mean to be trite, but Shelly has a yen for men."

Although she acknowledges that the Pryors' free-spirited new neighbor has noticed how handsome patriarch Jack (Tom Verica) is, she hints that she will eventually cast her eye, and then some, on the younger model — his ne'er-do-well kid brother, Pete (Matthew John Armstrong). "Nothing gets too, um, juicy," the actress insists coyly, "but there's definitely a chemistry that those two feel.

"Matt has been married for six years and hasn't kissed anyone other than his wife [in all that time]," she ad read more

MONSTER HIT

ABC's Lost hit a new ratings high Wednesday night, attracting 18.6 million viewers. But that wasn't enough to lift the struggling Bachelor, which was only able to hang on to 9 million of them at 9 pm. Now that's rejection. read more

OSCAR WATCH

Shrek 2, The Polar Express, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Shark Tale and The Incredibles are among the 11 'toon flicks competing for this year's best animated film Oscar. And although the category doesn't discriminate against puppet pics, Paramount's Team America was rendered ineligible because it features "live-action puppetry filmed in real time" — the same excuse they used for disqualifying Gigli last year. read more

CRIME UP

CBS has picked up an additional 10 episodes of freshman hit CSI: NY, bringing its first-season order to 23, Variety reports. After five episodes, Gary Sinise and Co. have averaged 16.7 million viewers, handily beating time-slot rival Law & Order. read more

QUESTIONS FOR RAJ?

Shameless flirt Raj faced the ultimate rejection on last night's The Apprentice: a pink slip from The Donald. The 28-year-old bow-tie-sportin' real-estate developer was fired after he turned a four-bedroom home into a three-bedroom home during a renovation task. As always, if you have questions for Raj, please e-mail them to me before 1 pm/ET, because that's when I'll be knocking him off his high horse. read more

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