Today's News: Our Take


Angel's James Marsters Rocks On


After Buffy the Vampire Slayer bit the dust, creator Joss Whedon hired James Marsters to join Buffy's spin-off, Angel. How does he like playing Spike, the semi-reformed British bloodsucker, on a whole other series?

"I'm really pleased they have a TV show to put me on, baby!" Marsters tells TV Guide Online. "I like acting. I'm so happy I don't have to go look for projects like all my friends from Buffy do. I'm sure they'll find them, but I've got my plate full right here and I love it."

When he's not on Angel's set, the actor performs with his band, Ghost of the Robot. His appearance on stage — leather jacket and slicked-back platinum hair — isn't much different from Spike's look. Does his easy recognition as a TV star help Marsters lure rock and roll aficionados to concerts?

"We were afraid of a double-edged sword, which is that people will come listen to you, but no one will take you seriou read more

OOPS... SHE CHANGED HER MIND

Britney Spears is not a girl, not yet a woman — but she's definitely off her rocker. Less than 12 hours after marrying childhood pal Jason Allen Alexander in Las Vegas, the 22-year-old pop tart arranged Saturday to annul the whole thing. In court papers posted at TheSmokingGun.com, Spears said her marriage should be dissolved because she "lacked understanding of her actions." Her record label was more blunt, saying in a statement that the pair "took a joke too far." For the record, the bride wore torn jeans and a baseball cap — neither of which I assume were white. read more

CRIKEY!

Crocodile Hunter loon Steve Irwin — who provoked Jacko-like outrage over the weekend when he dangled his infant son Robert in front of a 13-foot crocodile — appeared on the Today show this morning and told Matt Lauer, "If I could relive Friday, mate, I'd go surfing." In response, Jaws told TV Guide Online: "I hope he brings along lil' Bobby. He looks tasty, um, I mean, I'd like to meet him." read more

EXEC SHAKE-UP

Fox Television Entertainment Group chairman Sandy Grushow announced today that he is stepping down to form his own 20th Century Fox-based production company. "This was a very complicated decision for me to make," he said. "I've accomplished more than I ever thought possible [at Fox] — from helping to launch a network that no one thought would ever succeed, to leading the television studio to industry prominence, to leading the network to a record three consecutive second-place season finishes, including two historic sweeps victories." Now that's modesty for ya. read more

DOC HOLLYWOOD

Michael J. Fox will guest-star on two February episodes of NBC's Scrubs, USA Today reports. He'll play a "superdoc" coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder — a parallel to Fox's own battle with Parkinson's disease. The gig reunites Fox with Scrubs exec producer Bill Lawrence, who cocreated Spin City. read more

STILL KING

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King topped the box office for the third consecutive weekend, grossing $30.8 million for a total of $292 million. Cheaper by the Dozen ($21.9 million), Something's Gotta Give ($12.5 million), Cold Mountain ($11.7 million) and Paycheck ($10 million) rounded out the top five. Meanwhile, Hollywood rang up $9.27 billion in ticket sales for 2003 — off 0.5 percent from the previous year. It was the first downturn in more than a decade. read more

AMERICAN SPLENDID

American Splendor, an indie comedy-drama about the life of comic book author Harvey Pekar, was named best picture of the year by the National Society of Film Critics. Bill Murray won best actor for Lost in Translation and Charlize Theron was named best actress for Monster. read more

HOLIDAY RATINGS

CBS' Michael Jackson Number Ones special finished No. 3 in its time slot Friday night with 10.6 million viewers. The network, meanwhile, denied talk that it paid the embattled singer an extra $1 million to dig his hole deeper on 60 Minutes. In other ratings news, Fox's World Idol finale — in which Norway's Kurt Nilsen beat America's Kelly Clarkson — attracted 7.7 million viewers. read more

THIS'LL MAKE HIS DAY

Actor-filmmaker Clint Eastwood — whose latest directorial effort, Mystic River, is an Oscar shoo-in, will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association on Saturday. read more

DEBBIE DOES CABLE

Former Today coanchor Deborah Norville is headed back to NBC as the host of a primetime show on MSNBC. Her program — which will replace the recently axed Buchanan & Press — will debut later this month. Norville will continue hosting Inside Edition. read more

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