Today's News: Our Take


TASTE DUD

It's been a bad week for Rocco's. After receiving yet another God-awful review in a local New York paper, the eatery at the center of NBC's The Restaurant was cited for six health-code violations, according to TheSmokingGun.com. I'll stick with my Evergreen Diner right here on 47th, thank you very much. read more

PAGING GARY COLEMAN...

The Game Show Network will spoof the California recall election in an upcoming special, Who Wants to Be Governor of California? The Debating Game. Airing Oct. 1 (a week before the election), the show will feature five of the candidates in a wide-ranging debate, including buzz-in answers and bonus questions. The winner will receive $21,200, the maximum corporate campaign contribution allowed by California law. read more

IN RELATED NEWS...

Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled his 2000 and 2001 income tax returns over the weekend, and the actor-turned-politico made roughly $57 million in those years. Of that, Uncle Sam took only $15.4 million. Note to self: Find out who Conan's accountant is and hire him. read more

SOLEMN OCCASION

The major broadcast networks reportedly are planning a low-key observance of the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Unlike last year, ABC, CBS and NBC have no plans to interrupt their regular schedules in favor of wall-to-wall news coverage. Instead, the networks will devote much of that day's news programs to examining America post-9/11. read more

VIOLENCE BEGETS LAWSUITS

Two men are suing Sean "P. Diddy" Combs for $25 million each, claiming members of Combs's security team attacked them last August. According to the suit, Thomas Guest and Damon Jackson say they were assaulted at the rap mogul's recording studio in Manhattan. Combs's rep calls the suits "totally baseless." read more

SHORT CUTS

Comedy Central has renewed Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn for another season, through the end of 2004... Fox has greenlit an animated pilot based on The Boondocks comic strip... Just when you thought Al Roker couldn't be any more unrecognizable, the Today show weatherman returned from vacation today with a shaved head. read more

KING'S RANSOM

Lord of the Rings helmer Peter Jackson will pocket $20 million against 20 percent of the gross to direct Universal's upcoming King Kong remake, Variety reports. Sadly, the filmmaker will have to share that fee with Rings scribes Fran Walsh (his wife) and Philippa Boyens, who also serve as his writing partners on Kong. read more

The 411 on The O.C.'s MVP


Whether you caught last week's premiere of Fox's fish-out-of-water soap, The O.C., you know very well who Benjamin McKenzie is — or at least you recognize the handsome 26-year-old. His mug has been featured in so many promos for the series that by now, even he is probably sick of seeing himself. Okay, maybe sick is too strong a word; the prime-time newbie is, after all, still pretty fresh off the turnip truck.

His landing the role of Ryan Atwood, a delinquent pauper transplanted to Orange County, home of countless poor little rich kids, "wasn't quite as smooth as me just sort of being dropped off on a bus in L.A. and getting the job the next day," says the lucky star. "But I've been very fortunate.

"[The producers] have really put a lot of faith in me," he continues humbly, "because you can look down my bio and, after about three seconds, you'll realize I haven't done anything. So for read more

SKIRTING THE ISSUE

At a Monday press conference to promote his latest Project Greenlight baby The Battle of Shaker Heights, Ben Affleck dodged questions about whether his recent visit to a Vancouver strip club affected his upcoming wedding to J.Lo. "You can tell your news editors that you are too big for that kind of stuff," he laughed, "that you are better than that, that you rise above it." (Yeah, I told him that — but he still wants the freakin' scoop!) Affleck was much more forthcoming when the topic turned to Gigli, a film he confesses ultimately didn't hold up "as a whole." read more

STUNT CASTING ALERT

Film great Ann-Margret will guest-star on three episodes of NBC's Third Watch in November. She'll play a a judge who is being stalked and must be protected by New York's finest. read more

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