Today's News: Our Take


ON AUTO PILOT

Buoyed by her performance at the Teen Choice Awards, Ashlee Simpson logged another week atop Billboard's album chart. After a month in stores, Autobiography has sold 1.2 million copies. Another 800,000 and she'll tie sister Jessica's In This Skin CD. Not that Ash's keeping track of such things. read more

BACK ON THE BLOCK

Jennifer Lopez will return to Will & Grace for the show's Sept. 16 season premiere, NBC confirms. Continuing the story line from last season's finale, J.Lo returns from her concert tour with her newest backup dancer, Jack. Jenny's comeback sets the stage for Janet Jackson's arrival the following week. "He loses his job with Jennifer Lopez," exec producer Alex Herschlag tells TV Guide Online, "but she feels bad for him so she gets him a job dancing backup for Janet Jackson." Who the heck is running Jacques' Cafe during all this!?!?! read more

CAN'T WE ALL GET ALONG?

A group of conservative country music stars — including Ricky Skaggs, Randy Travis, Darryl Worley and Billy Dean — launched a get-out-the-vote project Tuesday, urging Americans of all political persuasions (but especially Republicans) to go to the polls in November (and buy their albums). The nonpartisan (pro-Bush) tone of the effort was intended to rebut the pro-Kerry campaign currently being waged by musicians such as Bruce Springsteen and the Dixie Chicks. read more

CONTINUING, THE CLONE WARS ARE

DreamWorks Television and reality giant Mark Burnett, the producers behind NBC's upcoming boxing series The Contender, are seeking a court order to block Fox's The Next Great Champ from debuting on Sept. 10. They contend that Champ producers beat them at their own game, er, I mean engaged in unlawful business practices. A ruling is expected today. read more

Boreanaz Keeps Angel Alive


Rumors that David Boreanaz is not up for an Angel movie are utterly bloodless. The ex-vamp is willing to take another turn at bat, but not on the tube. "It would have to be a theatrical release," he tells TV Guide Online. "I'm not into the movie-of-the-week [idea]."

Last month at the Television Critics Association press tour, WB execs remained hopeful that Angel would someday be reborn into a series of small-screen flicks. But network chairman Garth Ancier conceded that it would take "a little coaxing" to get Boreanaz interested. "I know they wanted to do, like, six films," Boreanaz says, "It's not that I'm against it; it just needs to be a bigger challenge. When you do something for five seasons, you want to continue to challenge yourself... go to another level with it rather than just doing the same thing you've been doing."

With that in mind, Boreanaz recently shot the title role in the big-screen comedy read more

TERROR ALERT!

Thousands of no-talent fame whores are converging on the nation's capital this week for the latest round of American Idol auditions. Although tryouts don't get underway until later today, many of the aspiring William Hungs started showing up on Monday. Their rationale? It beats bagging groceries. read more

TIMELY DOC

The death of Julia Child has prompted PBS to move up the premiere of its one-hour documentary on the culinary queen to tonight. Julia! America's Favorite Chef, originally slated to debut next year, will now air tonight at 8 pm/ET. read more

24 Babe's Porn-Star Turn


With Elisha Cuthbert's racy teen comedy The Girl Next Door heading to DVD next week, what better time to throw a bunch of X-rated questions at the embattled 24 star?

TV Guide Online: Did you have any reservations about playing an adult-film starlet in Girl Next Door?
Elisha Cuthbert:
Sure, but the script had me laughing out loud. I knew it would be a bit controversial, but my main concern was that women enjoyed the film — I knew we already had the guys.

TVGO: Did you meet any people in the adult industry?
Cuthbert:
I met a few porn stars while making the movie and, I must say, I was surprised by how strong-willed the women were. I found most of them to be very normal, together and business-minded. I tried to convey that with my character.

TVGO: What about the steamy scenes?
Cuthbert:
When I was filming them, it was just the camera operator and me. I would be nervous in the moments leading up to t read more

RATINGS GOLD

Roughly 30 million viewers watched NBC's Olympics coverage Tuesday night, according to Nielsen. Viewership peaked at 34.2 million at 10 pm/ET — around the time golden boy Michael Phelps went bonkers. read more

STERN ORDER

Spike TV has ordered 13 episodes of Howard Stern: The High School Years, an animated series that follows an adolescent Stern through high school, Variety reports. MTV, meanwhile, is developing a reality series starring embattled New York PR maven Lizzie Grubman. The show will shadow Grubman as she runs the nightlife in Manhattan, Miami and the Hamptons and backs her SUV into people who piss her off. read more

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