Today's News: Our Take


MERCY OUSTER

John Stevens' prayers were answered last night on American Idol when Ryan Seacrest uttered the words the embattled 16-year-old longed to hear: "The nightmare is over — you are free to go." (Or something like that.) The thick-skinned crooner's highly anticipated ouster follows last week's controversial results show, which found frontrunner Jennifer Hudson on the chopping block. The African-American diva's shock exit led Elton John to cry racism, but Idol meanie Simon Cowell dismissed those charges on Wednesday with "a definite no," predicting that Hudson's elimination would give the competition a much-needed shake-up. "Th read more

RETRACTION

Barbara Walters issued an apology on Wednesday's The View for a much-maligned ABC News promo that compared her upcoming 20/20 special on adoption to a reality contest. The spot said five couples would "compete" to adopt a 16-year-old's baby. "You know what the bad word was? Compete," she said. "We made a mistake." Alright, now what do you have to say about that whole Hasselbeck debacle? read more

HANKS' RISK FACTOR

Tom Hanks is near a deal to star in a film based on Richard Russo's novel The Risk Pool. The story centers on a petty thief and gambler (Hanks) who is suddenly charged with raising his sheltered son. read more

Smallville I'm starting to think...

Smallville
I'm starting to think that this town is nothing but Lana's coffee shop, the Kent farm and a never-ending maze of secret laboratories. Every time Clark turns around, someone is stripping him down and strapping him to a slab in order to discover his big secret. Please, like nobody can figure out that a straight guy with those abs is obviously a superhero? The bigger mystery here is the sparks bouncing between Annette O'Toole and creepy John Glover. A little Martha-Lionel hanky, maybe? Just a word of warning to the writers: The freaky-obsessive, comic-book-crazed fans will spontaneously combust if you go there. So hurry!

Life's Funniest Moments
I could get behind last week's Live TV's Greatest Bloopers or whatever, since it was a funny enough distraction. Once. Now it's just getting g.d. ridiculous. Did NBC really can Ed to fill the 8 pm slot with clip shows of New Zealand news repor read more

DOINK DOINK

Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay, who was recently named the Most Underrated Actress on Television by yours truly, is reportedly engaged to actor (and sometime SVU attorney) Peter Hermann. And don't believe nasty tabloid reports that say Hargitay agreed to pay for the ring because Hermann doesn't make as much as she does. My sources tell me Hargitay merely gave him a loan. read more

SORRY, HEIDI

Apprentice titan Donald Trump has dropped the M-bomb on his longtime girlfriend, model Melania Knauss. According to the New York Post, Trump proposed to the 33-year-old Slovenian beauty on Monday night. And judging by the paperweight she's now sporting on her finger, she apparently said yes. This would be Trump's third marriage and third divorce. read more

SOUR NOTE

The mother of tin-eared American Idol crooner John Stevens is coming to her son's defense. According to Entertainment Tonight, Lynn Stevens went to Idol producers after she heard a radio deejay tell his listeners not to worry about John because, at his first concert, "somebody will take him out." That prompted Idol exec producer Nigel Lythgoe to do a little PR for the poor fella. "I can't believe, really, what's happening to America," he told ET. "This 16-year-old came on this show and bought into the fact that if you like him, you pick up a telephone and vote for him. He, nor his family, ever bought into the fact that America would turn like this on somebody. And it's totally unfair." Speaking of unfair... read more

MIXED REACTION

P. Diddy — oops, forgive me, Sean Combs — received lukewarm reviews for his stage debut in the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun, which opened Monday night right down the street from my cramped studio apartment. The New York Times called his portrayal of Walter Lee Younger not "fully developed," while Variety said the Monster's Ball thesp "is simply not up to the role's considerable demands." The New York Daily News, however, said Combs "showed plenty of stage presence," even if "he does not project the turmoil inside the character." Despite the mixed reviews, advance ticket sales have raked in $2.5 million. The show's limited run ends July 11. read more

Tina Fey's Mean Streak


Asked how long she plans to stay at Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey — the sketchcom's first female headwriter — is, well, sketchy. "30 more years?" she jokes to TV Guide Online. "I don't really know." Fortunately, the gig leaves Fey time for side projects, like her new big-screen comedy, Mean Girls (opening Friday).

She wrote and co-stars in the Heathers-esque film, which draws from her own rotten high school experiences. "I had girls threaten to kick my ass," Fey admits. "I had a lot of friends and we were all sort of AP students. We were our own sad little clique. We thought we were super cool, but we weren't.

"Then, there were the girls who were sort of famous," she continues. "They were really popular and everyone knew everything about them. And [I was] like, 'That one is not even cute. How did she get that job? Just because she has nice Benetton clothes?'"

Fey says the witchy 'tudes in Mean Girls were also read more

Pierce Brosnan's 007 Crisis


Forgive Pierce Brosnan if he's a little shaken and stirred up about this whole James Bond mess. As the actor explains, he was in talks to return as 007 in a 21st Bond flick when "in the middle of negotiations a paralysis set in [amongst the producers]," he says. "They don't know how to go forward. So I'm not sure [if I'll be back]... They know where to find me if they want me."

Rumors persist that MGM may be looking to re-energize the franchise with a new, younger Bond. Names like Hugh Jackman, Orlando Bloom, Heath Ledger and Jude Law have been bandied about as possible successors. "Honest to God, I don't know what is going on here," Brosnan sighs. "Someone's playing a game, and it is very hard to find the truth in [this business]. As far as I'm concerned, I did what I was employed to do: That was play James Bond to the best of my abilities, make some good money for myself, make a lot of money for the studio and the producers, and, hope read more

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