Today's News: Our Take


MORE RENEWALS

ABC has extended full season, 22-episode orders to all of its freshman comedies: Hope & Faith, I'm with Her, It's All Relative and Married to the Kellys. In addition, new dramas 10-8 and Threat Matrix have also been picked up. And what about Karen Sisco? An ABC rep tells me four more scripts of the show have been ordered and "we are talking to the studio." Translation: If those ratings don't spike soon, it's a goner. read more

FAB DEAL

The five stars of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy are a signature away from securing a new deal with Bravo that will increase their per-episode paychecks from $3,000 to $8,000. While that sounds impressive, keep in mind that fashion spitfire (and breakout Queer star) Carson Kressley now earns as much as your average professional CD-shopper. read more

IT'S MILLER TIME AGAIN

Comedian Dennis Miller is headed to CNBC as host of his own prime-time talk show. The hour-long gabfest debuts in January. read more

PREGNANT PAUSE

How weird! On Thursday's Will & Grace, Grace (Debra Messing) appeared in only two minor scenes — and she was bed-ridden in both. Then, at episode's end, she decided to follow Leo to freakin' Cambodia! What gives? It turns out, Messing has been feeling under the weather because she's expecting her first child with husband Daniel Zelman. The show's writers hurriedly shipped Grace off to Cambodia in order to explain her absence while Messing's on a reduced work schedule. NBC won't say how long Grace will remain MIA. read more

ONCE AGAIN

Former Once and Again star Billy Campbell is headed back to the tube. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actor has signed a deal with Fox to headline his own drama series for fall 2004. read more

JUSTIN TIME

Justin Timberlake has signed a deal with ABC Sports that calls for the singer-hottie-comic to star in the network's NBA promotional campaign and write the theme music for its hoops coverage. In addition, the 'N Syncer will serve as a special NBA correspondent. read more

Tru CallingEliza Dushku sees dead...

Tru Calling Eliza Dushku sees dead people. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer refugee plays a med student with the ability to see the events leading up to untimely deaths (an apparent side effect of watching her mother being murdered in front of her when she was little) who races against the clock every week to change another victim's fate. Considering her lifeless performance, Dushku should feel right at home in her new workplace: the morgue.

Friends Christina Applegate delivers another hilarious appearance as Rachel's snotty sis Amy. Having the Emmy winner return this final season was a no-brainer (literally and figuratively), but I'm a bit taken aback by this snarky exchange about Rachel and Amy's other sister, Jill, played by Reese Witherspoon: Amy: "Mom said she [Jill] gained like, 15 pounds." Rachel: "Hips or thighs?" Amy: "Ass and face." Rachel: "I thought she was on Atkins." Amy: "She was, but the ca read more

Leslie Nielsen's Scary Time


In Scary Movie 3, Leslie Nielsen and Ja Rule lampoon last year's alien-invasion thriller, Signs. As befuddled President Harris, Nielsen goofs around in a way that's awfully reminiscent of President Bush's occasional pratfalls. But the star of Airplane! and the Naked Gun films insists he isn't spoofing Dubya.

"I didn't try to model the president I played on anybody," Nielsen says. "It's got nothing to do with [Bush]. My character is the No. 1 man of the strongest nation in the world. If you turn someone stupid loose with authority, you get some funny stuff!"

Even if we aren't quite sure we believe him, Nielsen's charm tends to carry him through sticky situation read more

J.R. Takes Aim at Dallas Movie


The prime-time soap opera just ain't what it used to be. Fly-by-night imitators of Dallas and Dynasty have come and gone, leaving us feeling as disappointed and bitter as Sue Ellen after catching J.R. in his latest act of adultery. Fortunately, our fave nighttime sudsers are in constant reruns on SoapNet, tiding us over between those rare reunion movies.

"We've done two," says Larry Hagman, referring to 1996's Dallas: J.R. Returns and 1998's Dallas: War of the Ewings. "Now, they're talking about a [feature film]. But they haven't involved us."

Plans for the Dallas movie were announced last year, in the wake of the Enron scandal. Hey, the 1978-91 sudser was all about oil empires and their shady corporate intrigues! So it's a natural time to think of a revival. Of course, it's unsurprising that series creator David Jacobs wouldn't a read more

Ed Asner's Santa Complex


Ho, ho, ho! How ironic that Ed Asner — best known as TV's tough, gruff Lou Grant — has carved a professional niche for himself by playing, of all roles, jolly old St. Nick. If you recall, he donned Kris Kringle's red suit for the 1996 TV movie The Story of Santa Claus and 1999's Olive, the Other Reindeer. Next up, he plays the North Pole's head honcho in the new Will Ferrell comedy, Elf (opening Nov. 7). That was one sleigh ride he'll never forget.

"This is about the eighth time I've [played Santa]," Asner tells TV Guide Online. "It is really old hat. But [my Elf character] is the ne plus ultra Santa, and all of the others were preparation for this!

"I'm delighted that it paid off nicely," the 74-year-old actor adds. "None of them were as much fun as this. From the script to the director and the ensemble cast, t read more

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