Today's News: Our Take


MOURNED

Babylon 5 actor Richard Biggs died Saturday of what was believed to have been a massive stroke. He was 44. Biggs got his start in daytime, playing Dr. Marcus Hunter on Days of Our Lives from 1987 to 1992. He is survived by his wife, Lori Gerber, and two sons. read more

THE EYE HAS IT

With the 2003-04 TV season ending tonight, CBS claimed victory among total viewers while NBC cruised to an easy win in the only demo it cares about — adults 18-49. Fox, meanwhile, had bragging rights to the season's No. 1 show, American Idol, which averaged roughly 26 million viewers. CSI finished a close second with 25.6 million viewers. And despite a demoralizing fourth-place finish, ABC enjoyed a little bit of good news, too: It's still on the air. For a more in-depth look at this season's ratings race, read The Biz. read more

UNWELL STAR

Madonna was forced to postpone the second date of her "Re-Invention" tour last night in Los Angeles due to illness. The official word is that the Material Girl came down with a stomach bug, but rumor has it Madge actually suffered an allergic reaction to her old material. Whatever the reason, the show will go on tonight. read more

NO SWEAT

An assault charge has been dropped against exercise diva Richard Simmons, who was accused of slapping a man who made fun of him at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport last March. The "victim" — a 6-foot-2, 250-pound ultimate cage fighter named Christopher Farney — agreed to drop the misdemeanor charge under the condition that Simmons start referring to him as "Master." read more

SHORT CUTS

Harrison Ford has signed on to star in Godspeed, a big-budget outer-space-set thriller produced by James Cameron, Variety reports... Nicolas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley's four-month union officially ended in divorce Monday. The couple separated in November 2002... Brittany Murphy and her manager-fiancé, Jeff Kwatinetz, have called it quits, the New York Post reports. The couple got engaged in January. read more

American Idol Love Diana DeGarmo's...

American Idol
Love Diana DeGarmo's curly tresses. Much better than those straight Hilary Duff bangs she was sporting earlier. Her first "Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher"-style ditty — written by Tamyra Gray and backed up by a gospel choir! — was faboo. Gotta agree with Simon's diss of Fantasia's first song — the arrangement felt like a mess, with the choir doing most of the singing and Fanny accompanying them.

Seemed dangerous to have the girls re-sing tunes they'd already done, though. It invites comparisons in voters' minds that could be unfavorable. For instance, Di's retread of "Enough Is Enough (No More Tears)" didn't sound as good as last time — she was yelling it. However, Fanny did "Summertime" fierce and fabulous. Can you believe Simon calling her the "best contestant we've ever had in any [AI] competition"? Wow. The man has a gift for hyperbole.

In their final verdict read more

ORDER RESTORED

It's not the return of Angie Harmon, but this'll do quite nicely: Former Law & Order star Carey Lowell is in talks to headline the franchise's upcoming third spinoff, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, TV Guide Online has learned. "There's been some early discussions and she's absolutely interested," confirms Lowell's manager. It's believed the actress — who in real life is married to Richard Gere — would reprise her role as onetime ADA Jamie Ross, a character she played from 1996 to 1998. In a recent interview with TV Guide Online, exec producer Dick Wolf hinted that some "familiar faces" from L&O's past might be joining Jerry Orbach when Jury debuts on NBC in early '05. read more

MNF's New Draft Pick


Monday Night Football's decision to sack buxom sideline reporter Lisa Guerrero and bring in ESPN vet Michele Tafoya may not go over too well with the broadcast's young male viewers. But you don't have to tell Tafoya that. "I know I'm not a pinup," concedes the 39-year-old NBA fixture. "I'm just a no-nonsense reporter who is really, really passionate about sports."

It's a distinction true football fans can appreciate — especially coming off of last season's on-air fiasco. Guerrero's brief gridiron gig was universally panned by critics, many of whom blasted ABC for shamelessly emphasizing sex appeal over substance in its pursuit of that ever-elusive younger demo. For her part, Tafoya doesn't blame the network for hiring actresses to play broadcasters.

"TV is a really visual medium," she says. "Really beautiful people get you to stop and watch and that's just the way it is; that's natural. Believe me, if I could have it all I would read more

Scott Turow's True Confessions

The death penalty has long been a part of best-selling novelist-lawyer Scott Turow's life. The Presumed Innocent author opposed it as a student in the '60s. As a federal prosecutor in the '80s, he decided it was a necessary evil. After working on a death-penalty appeal in the '90s, he realized the system made mistakes. In 2000, he served on an Illinois commission studying death-row reforms. Tonight at 9 pm/ET, CBS airs the second half of his miniseries, Reversible Errors. Based on Turow's 2002 novel about a capital-punishment case, it co-stars William H. Macy, Tom Selleck and Shemar Moore. The film follows a corporate lawyer's last-ditch appeal of a man's murder conviction, while the cop who put the inmate on death row struggles to keep him there.

TV Guide Online: What inspired you to write about the death penalty?
Scott Turow:
There's a case that was the rough progenitor of Reversible Errors. I represented a guy who was read more

I SPY A SPY

Michael Jackson's dad has hired his own attorney to serve as an "extra pair of eyes" in court. "At this point I'm representing family interests," Debra Opri tells The Associated Press. "Joseph loves his son and wants to be kept updated on everything." read more

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