Today's News: Our Take


In other Passion news, 60 Minutes' grumpy old man Andy Rooney said on Sunday's edition that he received 30,000 mostly angry letters in response to his Feb. 22 commentary in which he called Mel Gibson a "wacko." It was the show's biggest viewer response ever. One piece of mail referred to the 85-year-old Rooney as an "asinine, bottom-dwelling, numb-skulled, low-life, slimy, sickening, gutless, spineless, ignorant, pot-licking, cowardly pathetic little weasel," but surprisingly made no mention of his out-of-control eyebrows. read more


Five-time world champ Sugar Ray Leonard has been tapped to play a key role in NBC's upcoming boxing reality show The Contender. In the 16-episode series, from exec producers Mark Burnett, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Sylvester Stallone, Leonard would serve as an adviser and mentor to the aspiring Rocky Balboas. read more


Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw may have said au revoir to Paris, but Sarah Jessica Parker still can't resist the language of amour. As reported in next week's issue of TV Guide magazine (on sale March 22), the actress will play a "very funny, sexy French teacher" in Strangers with Candy: The Movie, the big-screen supersizing of Comedy Central's cult high-school satire (which stars sometime Sex guest Amy Sedaris). Parker's real-life hubby, Matthew Broderick, is also on board as a fellow "who comes between [gay teachers in love] Jellineck and Noblet," reports producer Mark Roberts, adding that, before shooting starts in June, more A-listers are sure to make the grade. "The cast of characters will be long and distinguished. There are a lot of [Candy fans] coming out read more


More than 1000 people lined up outside NBC's Burbank studios Saturday to audition for the second season of The Apprentice. Producers are reportedly looking for "real people" (hotties) who aren't afraid to speak their minds (drop the F-bomb). It also helps if you're a drama queen (prone to concussions) and not afraid to pick a fight (falsely accuse people of using racial slurs). On Thursday, the casting call moves to New York, where Donald Trump and sidekicks George Ross and Carolyn Kepcher will be on hand at 40 Wall Street to help screen prospective candidates (pose for pictures.) read more


The Passion of the Christ maintained its grip atop the box office for a third straight weekend, grossing $31.7 million for a 19-day total of $264 million. Mel Gibson's little-pet-project-that-could is on track to take in between $350 million and $400 million and rank as one of the top 10 earners in movie history. The Johnny Depp spooker Secret Window opened at No. 2 with a strong $19 million, followed by Starsky & Hutch (No. 3 with $16 million), Hidalgo (No. 4 with $11.7 million) and Agent Cody Banks: Destination London (No. 5 with $8 million). read more


Despite wondrous critical notices, Fox's quirky new drama Wonderfalls attracted less than 5 million viewers in its premiere Friday. The network fared slightly better with Playing It Straight, which drew 5.3 million viewers in its debut. For a revealing interview with Straight's leading lady, click here. read more


As expected, Martha Stewart resigned from the board of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., today. However, the domestic-goddess-turned-convicted-felon will stay on at the company in some creative capacity (she'll choose the hold music). read more

Quote of The Weekend: "DirecTV...

Quote of The Weekend:
"DirecTV has filed suit against O.J. Simpson, accusing him of pirating its satellite-television signal. In an unrelated story, DirecTV has been stabbed to death."
Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update."


High School Reunion
From what I've seen so far, there are two main activities for Texas' Round Rock High School class of 1993 — for the girls, it's giggling incessantly and for the guys it's holding beer bottles while pretending to be cool and occupied. I have only three questions for the gang:
To Laura "The Drama Queen": Did you really put mustard-covered marshmallows in Jeralyn "the Wallflower"'s underwear back in the day? (If so, you should still apologize.)
To T.J. "The Redneck": You said that you want to appear not as close-minded as you used to be. So do you think that instantly moving out on your gay roommate helped tha read more


In what was billed as his final night of staged opera, legendary Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti received a 15-minute standing ovation Saturday at New York's Metropolitan Opera following his performance of "Tosca." Although he's retiring from opera, the 68-year-old still plans to hold concerts up until his 70th birthday on Oct. 12, 2005. read more

Wonderfalls: Arcadia Knock-off?

At first glance, the new Fox series Wonderfalls might seem like a knock-off of CBS's Joan of Arcadia, as both leads talk to a higher being that no one else can hear or see. But Caroline Dhavernas, the relative newcomer who stars in the quirky dramedy (premiering tonight at 9 pm/ET), insists that the two shows are actually quite different.

"People compare the show all the time to Joan of Arcadia because we are [young women] with brown hair out on a mission to help." Dhavernas tells TV Guide Online. "[Joan] talks to God, I talk to inanimate objects; it is a whole different deal.

"Wonderfalls is really more of a comedic show," continues the Canadian-born actress, citing her character's knack for chatting up mutated plastic lions, monkey statues and stuffed bears. "I remember my agent saying to me that it was like T read more

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