Today's News: Our Take


KILLER INSTINCT

Fresh from her serial-killing spree in Monster, Charlize Theron is in talks to play a futuristic (and, thankfully, good-looking) assassin in a film based on MTV's animated series Aeon Flux. read more

GROWING PASSION

The official opening-day tally for The Passion of the Christ is in, and the film grossed $23.6 million on Wednesday — well above preliminary estimates of $15 million to $20 million. Mel Gibson's labor of love is poised to rank as the biggest religious-themed movie since The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur. read more

IT'S A GOOD THING

Martha Stewart may want to make up a fresh batch of plum pudding for the judge presiding over her trial. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum threw out the most serious charge — securities fraud — against Stewart. The charge carried a 10-year prison sentence. The domestic diva still faces four counts, including conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The jury is expected to begin deliberations next week. read more

OSCAR ODDS

With the Oscars just two days away, oddsmakers are pegging The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as the clear front-runner to walk off with best-picture honors. Charlize Theron is seen as a shoo-in for best actress, but the lead-actor derby is too close to call, with Bill Murray, Sean Penn and Johnny Depp racing neck-and-neck-and-neck. read more

BUH-BYE

Reality television's foremost villain, Richard Hatch, got his torch snuffed for the first time last night on Survivor: All-Stars. The Mogo Mogo tribe — led by the increasingly grating Colby Donaldson — voted unanimously to oust the 42-year-old naked guy, prompting Survivor's first champ to exclaim, "I've been bamboozled!" Meanwhile, Donald Trump wisely fired 27-year-old emotional basket case Ereka Vetrini on NBC's The Apprentice on the grounds that she, well, was an emotional basket case. read more

PROUD AS A PEACOCK

NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Last Call with Carson Daly hit new ratings highs last week among adults 18-49, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno posted its best numbers in that demo in three years. read more

GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL

Bobby Brown has been sentenced to 60 days in the slammer for parole violations stemming from a 1996 drunk driving charge. Brown's wife, Whitney Houston, was MIA at the sentencing hearing. Eh, it's not right but it's OK. read more

FINAL BOW

Despite talk that they might extend their run, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick will wrap up their return engagement to Broadway's The Producers on April 4. A search for their replacements is under way. As we reported here last month, Frasier's Kelsey Grammer was in talks to take over Lane's role, but he ultimately decided to do a TV-movie for NBC instead. read more

THE FINAL FRONTIER

The Practice has beamed up William Shatner for a four-episode guest stint. The Star Trek icon will play an "eccentric, well-connected, power-drunk legal legend who is chief partner of a law firm that goes head-to-head" with James Spader and Co. Meanwhile, it looks like fired Practice star Dylan McDermott is headed back to the ABC drama later this season after all. For more on that, pick up next week's issue of TV Guide magazine (on sale Monday). read more

ROSIE WEDS!

Inspired by what she called President Bush's "vile and hateful comments" against gay marriage, Rosie O'Donnell and longtime girlfriend Kelli Carpenter tied the knot Thursday in San Francisco. They join more than 3,300 other same-gender couples who have married in the city since Feb. 12. Emerging from city hall to thunderous applause from hundreds of spectators, O'Donnell thanked the mayor of San Francisco for taking "this amazing stance for... the thousands and thousands of loving, law-abiding couples." O'Donnell and Carpenter have been together for six years and have four children, one failed Broadway show and a truckload of koosh balls. read more

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