Today's News: Our Take


DEAD ALIVE

Sunday's series premiere of HBO's Deadweight, er, I mean Deadwood averaged 5.8 million viewers. It was the cabler's most-watched series debut in history. By comparison, the September launch of HBO's far-superior Carnivale netted 5.3 million total viewers. (Now, nobody better be talking smack about my Carnivale.) read more

HOT PROPERTY

Michael Jackson is suing a New Jersey man for more than $10 million, claiming that he is illegally selling such private Jackson family memorabilia as personal financial documents, medical records, private contracts and Jesus Juice-stained bibs on the Internet. According to court papers obtained by The Smoking Gun, Jacko says Henry Vaccaro obtained the merchandise through a bankruptcy sale involving the entertainer's parents and has no right to sell them. read more

AND THE LOSER IS...

The Academy of TV Arts and Sciences has axed the outstanding classical music/dance program award from this year's Emmys under a new directive that calls for the elimination of categories no one really cares about. Up next (we hope): Outstanding supporting actor/actress in a miniseries. Man, those two are a snooze. read more

America's Next Top Model After...

America's Next Top Model
After glimpsing the many fears and neuroses of the final three — Shandi, Mercedes and Yoanna — I couldn't really root against any of 'em. Though somehow, I just knew Shandi wouldn't win. Not because I'm holding her constant weeping or her two-timing or her trashy candy-store robbing past against her. Oh, no, I am not one to judge. Shandi just wasn't confident enough, was she?

It had to be Yoanna and Mercedes in the final runway showdown. And what a fabulously apropos way to wrap this second season. They were both fierce. Though I gotta say, despite Yoanna's spookily symmetrical features, I was with Janice Dickinson all the way: I really hoped Mercedes would win! I knew she wouldn't, but I wanted this spunky spitfire to emerge victorious. (By the way, how many times did girlfriend refer to Yo as a "bitch" in this episode? I lost count.) Mercedes wanted it so badly. She strutted dow read more

STRIKE A POSEY

Indie darling Parker Posey has nabbed a lead role in USA Network's Dean Koontz's Frankenstein pilot, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If it's picked up, the series could debut in the fall. read more

SOMEONE'S GONNA GET FIRED...

Burt Reynolds, who famously fired his agent for encouraging him to do Boogie Nights, has agreed to play a has-been coach who launches a volleyball team composed of strippers in a new indie flick titled Cloud Nine. Current Playboy covergirl Rachel Hunter costars. read more

THE REAL DEAL

The Real World has patched up its differences with the City of Brotherly Love. One week after ditching Philadelphia amid a heated dispute with local labor unions, producers of MTV's long-running reality romp negotiated a deal Tuesday to base the show's 15th season there. That noise you hear is Delaware's big chance going up in smoke. read more

Tavis Smiley: Howard Stern with Substance?

He's got shows on radio and TV. He's unafraid of controversy and would love to be the new King of All Media. Just call Tavis Smiley the thinking man's Howard Stern. This year, the author of six books and host of a National Public Radio show has added PBS news talk-show host to his resume.

TV Guide Online: You've talked about having "conversations of substance." How are your interviews different from other talk shows?
Tavis Smiley:
I could ask all the regular pop-culture questions. But I try to stay away from that. For example, I interviewed Anthony Minghella, the director of Cold Mountain, and I asked him how he could do a movie set in the Civil War and walk all around the issue of slavery. He was ecstatic. He said, 'You are the first person to ask why I did not do any scenes about that.' So that's what I mean. It's in [my approach]. But more important, [my shows] are the first on NPR and on PBS to come from the West Coast.

TVGO: W read more

GET INTO THE GROOVE

Madonna will embark on a 14-city Re-Invention Tour beginning May 24 in Los Angeles. The tour — which will also include stops in New York City, London and Paris — will feature songs from her entire career, not just from that last CD that no one purchased. Smart move, Madge. read more

SHORT CUTS

NBC has landed broadcast rights to Cold Mountain, one of 2003's most underrated films. The pic will make its Peacock debut in May 2006... Entertainment Tonight talking head Bob Goen and HGTV host Marianne Curan (Landscaper's Challenge) tied the knot Saturday evening in a private ceremony in Southern California. This is the second marriage for both. read more

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