Today's News: Our Take


SAD DAY IN HOLLYWOOD

Music legend Ray Charles passed away this morning at 11:35 am/PT due to complications from liver disease. The 73-year-old was surrounded by family members and his manager at his Beverly Hills home. In his life, Charles overcame obstacles such as childhood poverty, blindness and heroin addiction to pioneer the soul sound — and win 12 Grammys along the way. read more

Elaine Stritch at Liberty Ahhhh....

Elaine Stritch at Liberty
Ahhhh. There's nothing like a stage diva waxing musical about her golden years. Though from the looks of Stritch, we may be talking about sometime around the dawn of man. What is she, 108? Jeez. Still looks amazing in a dress shirt and black stockings, I gotta give her that. And the voice! Like aged whiskey poured over a carton of unfiltered smokes. No wonder Richard Burton once confessed to having an, um, arousing time at one of her matinees. And after this year's Tonys, it's obvious they don't make 'em like this Broadway baby anymore. Now they make 'em like a gay Wolverine and dirty Muppets. Which ain't bad either.

The Simple Life
Speaking of bad, I have a confession of my own to make. I adore Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. I know, I know. Let the stoning begin. It's just that they're so dumb! "What's a Wal-Mart?" "What does generic mean?" "Let's have a threesome!" God read more

TONY TUMBLES

The fifth-season finale of The Sopranos attracted 11 million viewers Sunday, down from the 12.5 million who tuned in for the fourth-season finale in December 2002. Why the tumble? Well, my colleague Stephen Battaglio addresses that very question in today's The Biz. read more

FROG BLINKS

WB is moving its upcoming prime-time soap The Mountain out of its planned Thursday at 8 pm timeslot, where it would have gone head-to-head with Fox's newly relocated The O.C. Instead, the show — think One Tree Hill on a ski slope — will air Wednesdays at 9 pm following Smallville. What'll the Frog net air on Thursdays now? Jeff Foxworthy's Blue Collar TV and Drew Carey's Green Screen Show. In other words, absolutely nothing. read more

STERN PENALTY

Clear Channel Communications has agreed to shell out $1.75 million to settle indecency complaints against Howard Stern and other radio personalities. It's the largest settlement negotiated by the FCC and a broadcaster. read more

Nicole Kidman: "I'm Not Perfect"


Starting Friday, Nicole Kidman can be seen in Frank Oz and Paul Rudnick's remake of the 1975 cult classic, The Stepford Wives. In this version, Joanna's a powerful TV-network president and Matthew Broderick is the insecure husband who plots not only to alter her hair color — from brunet to blond — but her whole personality! Will she end up a sexy, subservient robot? We won't tell. As for the ex-Mrs. Tom Cruise, she can't understand the desire for a "perfect" mate.

"I don't want perfect," insists the stunning 36-year-old Oscar winner. "Happiness is not found through perfection, or even trying to achieve it. The fun thing is discovering someone — the things that somebody else might think are appalling, you might think are really cute.

"I am nowhere near perfect, and I'm not ever trying to be," she adds. "The thing I find most attractive in people is their flaws. I like the mystery."

Lik read more

TONY TUMBLES — PART 2

Despite boasting some serious star power (Renee! Sarah! Nicole! Wolverine!), Sunday's Tony Awards telecast was the least-watched ever. According to Nielsen, only 6.6 million viewers tuned in, down from 7.86 million last year. read more

NOT AGAIN...

Courtney Love's back in the news, folks. The one-woman train wreck was charged Wednesday with attacking a female pal of her ex-manager in April with a bottle and a metal flashlight. An arrest warrant has been issued for the rocker. Factoring in this latest flap, Love now faces charges in four separate cases — silencing critics who say she can't multitask. read more

PASSION PAY

Mel Gibson's distribution company is suing Regal Entertainment Group for more than $40 million, claiming the nation's largest theater chain shortchanged him on revenues from The Passion of the Christ. Regal allegedly agreed to pay Gibson's Icon Distribution 55 percent of the film's receipts, but so far have offered only 34 percent, a box of Sno Caps and unlimited refills on Diet Coke. read more

WHOA

Matt LeBlanc's upcoming Joey spinoff is down one friend. Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey) — who was set to play Joey's sexy (and married) next-door neighbor in Los Angeles — has been let go and the role will be tweaked and recast. Variety reports that the character will now be single and serve as a potential love interest for Joey. read more

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