Today's News: Our Take


PASSION PLAY

Mel Gibson's Passion is expanding. Increased demand has led Newmarket Films to open The Passion of the Christ on 2,800 screens next Wednesday — up from 2,000. read more

DREAM TEAM

New Line Cinema has purchased a script for a film that would team CBS sitcom giants Ray Romano and Kevin James. Men Don't Quit focuses on two friends who team up as door-to-door meat salesman. read more

PAGING SAM SOLOVEY...

Taking a page from The Apprentice, NBC's Today show kicked off a weeklong series Friday morning called "The Intern." Of the eight contestants, four will win the grand prize: a special assignment with Katie, Matt, Ann and Al. The rest will get fired and shipped over to CBS' The Early Show. In related news, Katie Couric has landed an exclusive sit-down with disgraced former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair. It'll air March 5 on Dateline. read more

SECOND ACT

Veteran newsman Bill Moyers, who currently hosts PBS' weekly magazine Now, will retire from broadcasting after the November elections. Moyers, 69, will segue into publishing with a book about Lyndon Johnson. read more

TROUBLE IN NELLYVILLE

A Missouri casino faces a possible $50,000 fine for allegedly giving rapper Nelly special treatment when it allowed him to bet more than the legal limit. The President Casino in St. Louis hosted a late-night birthday party last November for the "Hot in Herre" crooner and his posse. Nelly publicist Juliette Harris insists her client didn't intentionally break the rules. read more

ANGEL UPDATE

Angel may be dead, but the show's fans sure aren't. Less than a week after the WB drove a stake through the Buffy spin-off, more than 45,000 Angel addicts have signed an online petition at PetitionOnline.com to keep the toothy drama alive. Campaigns to save the show are also being organized at numerous fan sites, including SupportAngel.org. But does any of this really matter? "It [helped] Roswell," says a WB rep. "It was as good as gone and the big fan campaign brought it back." In other words, the ball's in your court UPN. read more

FriendsPlease let the Joey spin-off...

Friends Please let the Joey spin-off be good because Matt LeBlanc has become a great comic actor. I was a Matthew Perry fanatic for many seasons, but Chandler's excessive sarcasm has taken its toll on me over the years. Does everything have to be ironic? Does cynicism have to pepper every observation? Maybe it's me getting older, but I now prefer Joey's gentle humor over Chandler's copious one-liners. Joey's stint on Pyramid last week and his hilarious attempts at speaking French tonight give me hope that Joey will do just fine on his own next season. He has gone from a dim-witted cad to a clueless but good-intentioned teddy bear, and it's been fun to watch his character evolve. That said, please tell me I'm not the only one who could give a hairy rat's you-know-what whether Ross and Rachel end up together. There are only, what, five new episodes of the series left and the season doesn't end until May, so qui read more

HOME RUN

Grammy winner Norah Jones' second album, Feels Like Home, sold a whopping 1.02 million copies during its first week in stores. It was the best debut since the summer of 2001, when 'N Sync's Celebrity moved 1.9 million units in its opening week. Jones' blockbuster haul overshadowed a strong debut by rapper Kanye West, whose well-received College Dropout entered Billboard's album chart at No. 2 with 441,000 copies sold. read more

Survivor's Jenna M. on Quitting

In a memorable Survivor: All Stars twist, 22-year-old Jenna Morasca made the tough decision to leave the game. She felt the need to see her mother, who'd been battling breast cancer and had taken a turn for the worse. Sadly, Morasca's mother passed away just eight days after she returned home. Here, TV Guide Online talks to this Survivor: The Amazon winner about quitting the game, fellow castaway reactions and — just to keep the mood light — Richard Hatch's nudity.

TV Guide Online: Were you pleased with how your last episode turned out?
Jenna Morasca: Yeah. I was really impressed. I think it really, really got across the emotions that we all were feeling that day. The kind of somber sadness and emotions like, "Yeah, we're playing a game, but this read more

'TIS THE SEASON

Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher and Debra Messing have signed on to voice characters in Open Season, Sony Pictures' first computer-animated flick. The story centers around a domesticated grizzly bear (Lawrence) and a mule deer (Kutcher) who are stranded in the woods during hunting season. Messing plays the forest ranger who comes to their rescue. There's no word if the actress' real-life pregnancy will be worked into the plot. read more

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