Today's News: Our Take


"I ain't into f-----s. I don't like gay people around me, because I'm not comfortable with what their thoughts are. I'm not prejudiced... Women who like women, that's cool. I could actually get into that." — Rapper 50 Cent at his most eloquent in an interview with Playboy magazine. read more


As expected, ABC is folding David E. Kelley's eight-year-old Practice in May, but the network has ordered a Kelley-scripted spin-off centered on James Spader. According to USA Today, the new series will begin to take shape this month on The Practice, when Spader's character, Alan Shore, is fired, files a wrongful-termination suit and joins a bigger firm. Practice co-stars Rhona Mitra and Jessica Capshaw are also expected to join the spin-off. read more


Fans of The O.C. who, like us, are way more torn up about Anna's exit than Seth is, can take heart — her portrayer, Samaire Armstrong, isn't disappearing, she's merely moving from Orange County to the Big Apple. The scene-stealing pixie has been cast as an actress-nanny in ABC's pilot for Gramercy Park, which is described as The Help, only good. Take that, Cohen! read more


Sopranos fans chose not to take sides against the family Sunday night as HBO's mob drama kicked off its fifth season with 12.1 million viewers. It was the third most-watched Sopranos episode ever, behind last season's debut (13.4 million) and finale (12.5 million). The show whacked all of its network competition among adults 18-49, although it finished behind Law & Order: Criminal Intent among total viewers. In other ratings news, reality was all the rage last week as American Idol, Survivor: All-Stars and The Apprentice all landed in Nielsen's top five. read more


White Stripes front man Jack White pleaded guilty to assault and battery Tuesday for punching Von Bondies lead singer Jason Stollsteimer in December. He was ordered to pay $750 in fines and attend anger-management classes. read more


American Idol has recruited Ruuuuuben Studdard to help pad tonight's live, hourlong wild-card-results show. Mr. Velvet Teddy Bear will perform his latest hit, "Sorry 2004." (The rest of the hour will be filled with another one of Leah Labelle's trademark meltdowns and Matthew Metzger's teeth.) Clay Aiken, meanwhile, will stop by during next week's results show to sing. read more


Whoopi Goldberg will tackle the polarizing issue of gay marriage during an episode of her NBC sitcom, Whoopi. According to Reuters, the plot finds Goldberg's character, Mavis, hosting a wedding for her gay cousin at the same time her conservative brother is using the hotel for a Republican get-together. Says Goldberg: "It's presented in a way that was non-condescending and yet thought-provoking." Notice how she didn't say funny? (For rapper 50 Cent's take on same-gender nups, see below.) read more


Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Lopez are teaming up to star in American Darlings, a period drama about a female swing band that joins forces with a group of black and Hispanic musicians, Variety reports. In related news, Lopez has signed a development deal with Fox TV Studios. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the former Bennifer star will give Fox first crack at all television projects developed by her Nuyorican Prods. read more


King World, which distributes Martha Stewart Living to TV stations around the country, is sticking by the domestic felon. In a statement, the company says it will continue to distribute the show as long as stations "want to continue to broadcast the program." Aside from Viacom (which owns CBS and UPN), no other station group has pulled Living. read more


With The Passion of the Christ crucifying the competition at the box office, CBS has decided to rebroadcast its 2000 telepic Jesus on Sunday, March 28... Filmmaker Noam Murro has bowed out as director of the upcoming sequel to The Ring due to "creative difference" with DreamWorks... Disney has entered into a deal with best-selling young-adult author Judy Blume to develop films based on her books. read more

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