Today's News: Our Take


Alex Boyd: The New Elvis?


The tabloids won't have to dig too deep to come up with dirt on velvet-voiced Alex Boyd, whose debut single, "In Your Eyes," drops today: The Fame grad is the first to admit that he has a split personality, at least where his music is concerned. That's why his album, The Hip Side and the Flip Side (due out this fall), comprises two discs, the first a collection of au courant R&B tracks; the second, classic cuts given a modern edge.

"I've pretty much grown up on old music," the heartthrob-in-the-making explains to TV Guide Online. "I've been influenced by Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr., the Beatles.... Hell, even Handel and Bach! On the other hand, I've also had a lot of pop influence. For instance, I think Justin Timberlake's solo record was phenomenal."

So, naturally, in shaping his premier CD, the 19-year-old set two goals for himself. First, he wanted to blaze his own trail up the char read more

ALL IN THE FAMILY

Dakota Fanning has signed on to play Tom Cruise's daughter in Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds remake. Fanning starred in Spielberg's Sci-Fi Channel miniseries Taken, but she did not meet the Oscar-winning filmmaker during the shoot. Why? Probably because she gives him the creeps. read more

THE SCOOP IS OUT THERE

Kerr Smith — best known for his role as Dawson's Creek's token gay, Jack McPhee — is joining the cast of Charmed as a love interest for, um, a girl. Specifically, leading lady Rose McGowan. A show spokeswoman describes Smith's character as a homeland-security agent who believes in the supernatural. Says the rep: "He's sort of like Fox Mulder from The X-Files." He'll debut in October and, if my hunch is correct, start making eyes at fellow newcomer Nick Lachey by November sweeps. read more

STORK REPORT

Kelsey Grammer and wife Camille welcomed a baby boy, Jude Gordon Grammer, via surrogate mother on Saturday. The couple have a daughter, also born by a surrogate. read more

HOLLYWOOD'S CALLING

Did you hit it big at one time in your life only to fade into obscurity, and, ultimately, either A) hit bottom in a Saks Fifth Avenue dressing room, or B) discover God and turn your life around? If so, you probably have a decent shot at getting your own E! True Hollywood Story! Realizing that Hollywood hasn't cornered the market on rags-to-riches-to-rags stories, E! is expanding its signature series beyond celebs. Applications are being accepted until Sept. 20 at E! Online. The winning tale of woe will be featured in an upcoming one-hour special. read more

OBSESSIVE. COMPULSIVE. FIRED.

When Monk resumes the second half of its second season in January, Tony Shalhoub's OCD-afflicted alter ego will be without his trusty sidekick. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bitty Schram has been let go for "creative" reasons. Although the split was said to be amicable, there's buzz that a salary dispute may have been behind her exit. In the meantime, Monk producers are looking to add a new female character, a widow who works as a bartender. Interested actresses must be in their thirties and be open to the idea of kissing Tony Shalhoub. From inside a bubble. read more

SHORT CUTS

Nielsen estimates that 203 million viewers watched at least some of NBC's Olympics coverage, making it the most-watched non-U.S. Summer Olympics in history.... Eminem will release his next album, Encore, on Nov. 16. It's Slim's first CD of new material since 2002's The Eminem Show. read more

RECOVERING

Major Dad actor Gerald McRaney, 56, underwent surgery Monday in Houston to remove a cancerous growth from his lung. The tumor was reportedly detected at an early stage. McRaney, a longtime smoker, will remain hospitalized for a few days before returning to Los Angeles to start work on his new WB sitcom, Commando Nanny. In the meantime, production on Nanny has been halted and its Sept. 17 premiere delayed. read more

CHARLA'S GONE MAD!

Fox's MADtv is extending Amazing Race fave Charla Faddoul's 15 minutes of fame. The 4-foot-tall reality phenom and her less-popular cousin, Mirna, will make an appearance on the sketch comedy's Sept. 18 season premiere. In their skit, titled the "Amazing Presidential Race," Charla and Mirna help Ralph Nader defeat Kerry and Bush for president. Actually, Charla helps him while Mirna sits around and does nothing. read more

IN RELATED NEWS...

If you do anything today, please read my column. After you're done with that, make sure you check out Ethan Alter's exclusive interview with Race rabble-rouser Colin, who responds to those explosive allegations that Mirna recently leveled against him on TV Guide Online. My fave part is when he concedes that his girlfriend/teammate, Christie, "is a much bigger person than I am and is able to take the high road and be mature enough not to let our problems escalate... I am damned lucky to have her as my partner." It takes a big man to state the obvious. It takes an even bigger man to commit himself to a loony bin. read more

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