Today's News: Our Take


Recasting Dark Shadows


Like a vampire that simply refuses to die, the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows (which ran on ABC as an afternoon serial from 1966 to '71 and, almost a decade later, was resurrected by NBC as a Friday-night fright) is being raised from the grave yet again. This time, series creator Dan Curtis has even recruited for his partner a real power player: John Wells, who, as executive producer of ER, has lots of experience with faux hemoglobin. But before the latest prime-time version sees the light of day (so to speak), the dynamic duo will have to unearth an actor with the charisma to pull off the lead role of toothsome playboy Barnabas Collins. Luckily, their friends at TV Guide Online are here to help. Our picks?

Dylan McDermott: Not only does the Practice read more

EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

ABC has greenlit Empire, an eight-hour limited series described as an epic take on the fate of the Roman Empire. The $30 million project could air as early as next fall. read more

OFF TO WAR

Dylan McDermott and Julianna Margulies have been recruited to help fight the War on Terror. The former TV stars have signed on to play counterterrorism agents in The Grid, a six-hour TNT miniseries that chronicles the aftermath of a terrorist attack on London. Shooting begins early next year. read more

LESS OF MOORE

Mary Tyler Moore has dropped out of Neil Simon's new off-Broadway play Rose's Dilemma two weeks before its opening. Moore left the production after reportedly receiving a brusque letter in which Simon scolded her for not knowing her lines. "Mary was devastated and completely debilitated personally and professionally," says her spokesman, Mara Buxbaum. "Mary has been working tirelessly for months but feels pushed out of this production." Moore's understudy, Patricia Hodges, will take over the role. read more

STRIKING THE BAN

In what Variety is calling a "stunning underdog victory for indie producers and a defeat for corporate muscle," a federal judge temporarily blocked the Motion Picture Assoc. of America's ban on sending screeners to critics groups and Golden Globe voters for awards consideration. The MPAA imposed the ban in order to cut down on piracy and re-gifting during the holidays. read more

THAT'S LIFE

Paris Hilton continues to score — on the small screen, that is. The second installment of her fish-out-of-Barneys series The Simple Life averaged 13.3 million viewers on Wednesday — up from 13 million the night before. So, it comes as little surprise that Fox is already mulling a sequel that would reteam Hilton and pal Nicole Richie. "There is some discussion of that right now," Fox reality guru Mike Darnell tells the New York Daily News. Meanwhile, rumor has it Hilton may make a cameo on Saturday Night Live this weekend. I predict a run-in with Maya Rudolph's Donatella Versace. read more

YOU GO, GIRL

Yep, Ellen DeGeneres has a hit on her hands. Her talk show has been renewed for a second season by 14 of NBC's owned-and-operated stations, representing 30 percent of the country. read more

X-MAN

Director Bryan Singer has begun negotiations with 20th Century Fox to helm a third X-Men flick as part of a two-year development deal with the studio, Variety reports. Singer directed the first two X-Men flicks, which have grossed nearly $700 million worldwide. read more

HAPPY [BLEEPIN'] HOLIDAYS!

Ever wonder how Ozzy Osbourne and his crazy clan celebrate the holidays? No? Well, you're going to find out anyway on Dec. 11, when MTV airs The Osbourne Family Christmas Special, a program the music network says will take "holiday specials to a bizarre new level." According to Billboard, the special will feature a number of celeb guests, including Jessica Simpson, who duets with Ozzy on "Winter Wonderland," and newlyweds Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra, who have been left in charge of baking the holiday cookies. Loveline host Adam Carolla teams with Jack to whip up the cranberry sauce (read: Jell-O shots), while Kelly belts out a rendition of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (read: get out the ear plugs). And the show-stopper read more

HOMETOWN HERO

Bruce Springsteen is donating a portion of the proceeds from three benefit concerts in Asbury Park, N.J., this weekend to help purchase uniforms and instruments for the local high school marching band. read more

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