Today's News: Our Take


SEND IN THE CLONES

Fox is firing up yet another Apprentice clone. Following Wednesday's announcement that the network is developing an Apprentice-esque reality show featuring legal eagles, Fox has greenlit production of Branson's Big Adventure, an hourlong unscripted series in which colorful billionaire (and Virgin CEO) Richard Branson will search for "an extraordinary individual who has the right stuff to follow in his footsteps," says Fox reality guru Mike Darnell. What do you want to bet this "epic journey around the world" makes a pit stop at Branson's private island, which was recently featured on the Today show's annual "Where in the World Is Matt Lauer?" special? What do you say, $20? Do I hear $40? read more

My Wife Kids There is nothing...

My Wife & Kids
There is nothing worse than watching a mediocre sitcom when you're already feeling under the weather. At least with a good comedy, you get a few healthy chuckles in between the hacking coughs. This one just had me begging for the NyQuil to kick in. Michael hires Calvin to work at the trucking company, where the simple giant proceeds to throw people around, tear doors off cars and devour bacon sandwiches. This is not funny. In the real world, he would be considered a threat to himself and others. Here, it's just a threat to this show ever being more than something to be endured until...

American Idol
Now I know I'm coming down with something, because I could swear I just saw Jennifer Hudson in the bottom three. Again. With LaToya London, no less! No, it must be the fever. Which, I swear, spiked during that awful Ford commercial. Or maybe it was the sight of Simon's stretchy club-freak shirt. I read more

RECORD BOW

Usher's new CD, Confessions, is poised to enter Billboard's album chart at No. 1 with first-week sales of 1.1 million copies. If those numbers hold up, Confessions would rank as the best album debut since 2001 and a record for an R&B artist. It also would eclipse Norah Jones' Feels like Home, which sold more than 1 million copies in its first week in stores last month. read more

LIGHTS, CAMERA, CAROL!

CBS is once again reuniting Carol Burnett with sidekicks Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner for an all-new special to air May 5. In The Carol Burnett Show: Let's Bump up the Lights, Carol and co. will introduce never-before-seen clips from the classic variety show. CBS's 2001 reunion special, The Carol Burnett Show: Showstoppers, attracted nearly 30 million viewers and ushered in TV's current nostalgia craze. read more

OFFICE PARTY!

The winners of the 63rd Annual Peabody Awards were announced today and BBC's acclaimed comedy The Office, HBO's cop drama The Wire, Showtime's gender-bending movie Soldier's Girl and the multilingual kiddie program Dora the Explorer were among the honorees. The awards — which recognize excellence in media — will be presented May 17 in New York. read more

Survivor's Colby Acts Up

He may have lost out on Survivor's $1 million booty — twice — but Colby Donaldson still has that winning smile to fall back on. In fact, the hunky Texan has parlayed those good looks into an acting career, recently landing a memorable guest stint on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. In the episode, the 29-year-old — playing himself — got into a heated debate with a Holocaust survivor about whose experience was worse. TV Guide Online caught up with Jerri Manthey's rival to chat about landing the plum gig, his acting aspirations and Hollywood's reality prejudice.

TVGO: How did you end up on Curb?
Colby Donaldson:
I went in and auditioned with a bunch of other guys and was lucky enough to get it. They originally had thrown the part out there as a fictitious character from Survivor. Once I got the job, we shot it and my name was Steve or Andy or something like that, and Larry called me up and said, "This is ridic read more

JACKO UPDATE

Michael Jackson's 14-year-old accuser testified Tuesday during the grand-jury hearing in the pop star's molestation case, according to The Associated Press. The top-secret hearing — which will determine whether Jacko must stand trial — also included testimony from the comedy-club owner who first arranged for Jackson and the boy to meet. A pretrial hearing is set for Friday. read more

MOVE OVER, WICKER...

Former Pier 1 pitchwoman Kirstie Alley is in final negotiations to play Ricki Lake's mother in an untitled CBS comedy pilot, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The potential series centers on a young widow raising her two kids with the help of her mom. Fellow Cheers alum Shelley Long, meanwhile, has been tapped to replace Beverly D'Angelo in an untitled NBC sitcom pilot about the relationship between an adult son and his newly divorced dad. Long will play the mother. read more

WILL SANS GRACE

Debra Messing has been ordered to stay off her feet for the remainder of her pregnancy, forcing her to miss the final four episodes of Will & Grace — including the April 29 season finale centered on Karen's wedding to John Cleese. "We've written around it," says an NBC spokesperson, adding that Grace will fall ill and be unable to attend the nuptials. Messing's rep says the actress is doing "great" and insists that there are no complications with her pregnancy. "[Her doctor just] ordered her to be careful and take it easy." In the meantime, if you're looking to break into the apartment-flipping biz, please contact Will Truman ASAP via the link at the bottom of this page. read more

Barbershop Star's Drug Drama


Blue-eyed hottie Michael Ealy has made a living playing characters on the wrong side of the law. In addition to the convicted felon he channeled in both Barbershop flicks, the 30-year-old actor portrays a young man driven into a seedy world of drugs and murder in the disturbing new film Never Die Alone. "It is repugnant and repulsive and it is relentless," Ealy says of the latter flick. "It is hard to look at."

So much so that he advised his mother not to see it — advice she failed to heed. "I spoke to my mom and she said she saw it at a sneak preview," he sighs. "She just said three words, 'Foul, foul, foul.' Then she had to go back to her prayer meeting. I'm probably in trouble.

"My mom listens to gospel," he continues. "This is not gospel. This is a world that my mom worked hard to keep me from. I can't imagine her watching me exist in this world. It has got to be difficult for her to separate me as acto read more

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