Today's News: Our Take


SCARY RATINGS

The Sci Fi Channel's much-hyped five-part miniseries 5ive Days to Midnight averaged a disappointing 1.69 million viewers, prompting network president Bonnie Hammer to tell The Hollywood Reporter, "I would be lying if I said we weren't disappointed and really surprised." Her logic being that viewers tend to be drawn to programs that suck. read more

SUNDAYNBA Finals: Lakers at Pistons...

SUNDAY

NBA Finals: Lakers at Pistons
So Detroit is up 3-1 in this series. Having lived in Los Angeles for four years now, and having developed a liking for this city, all I can say is... go, Pistons! (Oh, c'mon. Even Magic Johnson says L.A.'s overpaid babies aren't trying hard enough.)

National Geographic Ultimate Explorer: "Killer Crocs of Uganda"
Brady Barr is like Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin without the annoyance. Expressed more succinctly: BB = SCHI - A.

Barr does have Irwin's guts, however — tackling a 1500-pound Nile croc with just a snare-pole, a roll of duct tape and two guys who've never done it before. And even after all three of them are sitting on its back and have taped its jaws shut, the danger remains, with Barr warning them that the monster can still break their noses or knock their teeth out with a thrash of its big ol' scaly head. (Sort of like an old roommate of mine af read more

LET THE GAMES BEGIN

Eric Bana — the hottie from Hulk and Troy — has been cast in Steven Spielberg's as-yet-untitled film about the 1972 Munich Olympics, Variety reports. The pic will begin filming in Europe later this summer. read more

SCOOP!

Actress Rosanna Arquette will guest star on the WB beach drama Summerland, TV Guide Online has learned. She'll play the estranged mother of surfer girl Erika (Taylor Cole). And word is, Mommy has a very serious health concern. Arquette's episode airs July 20. read more

Paris and Nicole Feuding?


When it comes to Paris Hilton, nothing is simple. Take the conference-call interview she's scheduled to do with Nicole Richie to promote The Simple Life 2 (debuting Wednesday on Fox). The L.A.-based Richie has agreed to talk with TV Guide Online at 10 pm — in order to accommodate Hilton, who's on a 17-hour time difference in Australia. But when the hotel heiress gets on the line, she puts her stiletto down. "I want to do the interview by myself," Hilton pouts. "My publicist didn't tell you? I want to do it separately."

Hmm... Is Hilton just being difficult — or could rumors of a rift between these two pampered party girls be true? For the record, both say their friendship is just fine, thanks. The gossip "is just people trying to make things up," Hilton huffs.

Regardless of whether they have, at least momentarily, grown sick of each other, the question remains: Are viewers over them? Last winter's first installment was a hit read more

GET YOUR FREAK ON

Red-hot comedian David Chappelle is in negotiations to play Rick James in a film based on the singer-songwriter's upcoming book, Memoirs of a Super Freak. The role won't be a stretch for Chappelle, who has impersonated James on his Comedy Central smash, Chappelle's Show. read more

Bette Midler's Reality Check


Bet you didn't know this: Joan Cusack backed out of The Stepford Wives remake (opening today) to spend time with her ailing father. Her role was recast with Bette Midler, who happily rose to the occasion. However, the 58-year-old legend had never seen the original 1975 cult classic about a suburban hamlet where disobedient wives are swapped for robots.

"When I got cast, I rented it," Midler recalls. "I was surprised at how sad it was. It was so tragic. All [the heroine] wanted to do was be a photographer. The poor girl. That was what was considered threatening in 1975? Imagine."

While she's pleased that women's lib has come far since the '70s, the Divine Miss M wonders if it's gone too far. "There are so many things happening in the media that are hard to absorb," she laments. "I never thought I would see the day when someone [like Paris Hilton] could make a pornographic film and survive it. I remember when, if you got arr read more

JIMMY CRACK SCORN

Jimmy Kimmel has apologized for joking that Detroit Pistons fans would burn down the city if their hoops team beats the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. ABC, fearing that Kimmel would take more pot shots at Detroit on Wednesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live, scrapped an original episode and aired a repeat instead. ABC's Detroit affiliate retaliated by banning the show altogether, running The Wayne Brady Show in its place. Man, Detroit is out of control when it gets angry. read more

SERKIS IS KING

Peter Jackson has tapped his Lord of the Rings contortionist Andy Serkis to give the Gollum treatment to King Kong in the director's upcoming remake of the 1933 classic. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Serkis will provide "motion capture reference" for the big hairy beast, who will eventually be realized as a completely CGI creature. read more

Whitney Rocks Punk'd!

If you read the above headline and thought you were going to get some dish on Whitney Houston, ha! You've been punk'd! But don't blame us, blame Whitney Cummings, the fast-talking 21-year-old Ashton Kutcher recruited to bring stars down to Earth on his hit MTV prankfest (airing Sundays at 10 pm/ET). After talking with the mischievous actress about the practical jokes she's played on everyone from Julia Stiles to The Rock, we couldn't resist trying out a scam or two of our own. Besides, if you think you feel cheated, just wait until she finds out that she was being interrogated by TV Guide Online and not doing a pre-interview for Inside the Actors Studio.

TV Guide Online: Which celebrity has reacted best to being punk'd?
Whitney Cummings:
Probably Chris Klein, as far as the most satisfying reaction. He bought it hook, line and sinker.

TVGO: No, I mean who was the best sport?
Cummings:
Oh. In that c read more

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