Today's News: Our Take


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Saturday Night Live is courting politician-turned-author Bill Clinton to host the skitcom this season, TV Guide Online has learned. According to sources, the former president has been offered the gig if he wants it; a decision is expected by next week. Of course, that depends on what Clinton's definition of "is" is. read more

SUNDAY The 4400 I feel terrible...

SUNDAY

The 4400
I feel terrible saying this, but I'm still getting used to not being surprised by good programming on USA Network. Next week is the last episode of this alien-abduction limited series and I'm not happy. (Hopefully, this will be picked up for future episodes. Hey, if something like, say, Joe Schmo, can have a subsequent edition, why not this cool show?)

OK, so right now we've got that rich benevolent guy, Jordan (Billy Campbell), who seems amazingly slimy even though he's giving away houses and jobs. (That beard alone is a giveaway.) And then you have that strange, pushy baby in Lily's belly. Next, there's clairvoyant Maia and healing or suck-the-life-out-of-you Shawn, who has no problem hooking up with his brother's girlfriend (now ex). And finally, Kyle, after just waking up from a coma, is saying he's actually not Kyle. Yikes. Yeah, I don't know, but I have a sick feeling these things are all rel read more

I SPY A CASTING COUP

Alias has tapped Oscar-nominated thesp Angela Bassett to play the show's new CIA director. For more on how long she'll be sticking around, pick up the new issue of TV Guide magazine, on sale Thursday. While you're at it, pick up two! read more

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

Turns out some folks did actually watch the Democratic National Convention last week. Nielsen estimates that roughly 24.4 million viewers caught John Kerry's 55-minute acceptance speech Thursday night. That's up from the 21.1 million who watched Al Gore's acceptance speech in 2000. CNN was the top draw among cable nets, easily outpacing second-place Fox News (4 million to 2.6 million). read more

THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM?

Nicolas Cage married 20-year-old sushi waitress Alice Kim on Friday in Northern California. The couple met in February when Cage visited the Los Angeles restaurant where she worked. According to sources, she had him at "Hello — hot towel?" read more

RED-HOT BLUE

WB's new sketch comedy Blue Collar TV, starring Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy, attracted 5 million viewers in its debut last Thursday. The show finished second in several key demos, including young adults and middle-aged folks who think their front lawn is a driveway. read more

NEW HOMELESS SHELTER?

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, have sold three properties on their posh Pacific Palisades, Calif., compound for $18 million, the Los Angeles Times reports. The couple moved into a $11.9-million estate in nearby Brentwood two years ago. read more

REMEMBERED

Veteran character actor Sam Edwards, whose TV work included gigs on Gunsmoke, Barnaby Jones, McCloud and Happy Days, died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack. He was 89. Edwards was probably best known as the town banker on Little House on the Prairie, a role he played from 1978 to 1983. read more

Is Meryl Playing Hillary?


The biggest question surrounding Paramount's remake of the 1962 classic The Manchurian Candidate — besides "Why remake a classic?" — is whether Meryl Streep is channeling Hillary Clinton in her performance as power-hungry Sen. Eleanor Shaw.

"A lot of journalists have asked me that question," sighs the two-time Oscar winner. "Even Katie Couric, who you'd think would have good fact-checkers." Disturbed by the comparison, Streep went online to track down the source of the rumors. "I discovered that it's from a really scary guy who runs a website in Los Angeles. And every single reporter has heard this story and fed it back to me as if it was true. But consider the source!"

Still, Streep does admit that the character is modeled after a real political figure, whom she declines to name. "I think I'm doing a dead-on impersonation of them," she teases, "but no one has identified who it is yet. And who says I haven't read more

Scrubs Star's Hollywood Dream


You'd think starring in a well-known sitcom like NBC's Scrubs would open doors in Hollywood. But Zach Braff got a harsh reality check when he first went looking for a studio to finance his feature-directorial debut, Garden State (now in limited release).

"It was harder than I thought," says Braff, who also scripted and stars in the film. "I had envisioned that being on Scrubs, having Natalie Portman attached to star and Danny DeVito producing would make it a cinch to get money. I wasn't even asking for that much anyway. But I couldn't find anyone willing to take a risk."

Braff says part of the studios' reluctance had to do with his screenplay, which deliberately avoids following the conventions of most twentysomething dramas. "It's not a movie a studio would ever generate and, as I learned, it was not a movie a studio would ever even produce," he explains. "It was what they call in the studio system 'execution dependent.' read more

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