Today's News: Our Take


SHORT CUTS

The ninth and final season of The Drew Carey Show — yep, it ain't dead yet folks! — kicks off June 2 on ABC... Brad Cotter was named the winner of USA Network's Nashville Star Saturday night. The 33-year-old Alabaman snagged a Sony recording contract... Christopher Reeve will direct an original movie for A&E about a quadriplegic who becomes a Harvard University honors student. read more

MORE DO'H!

Fox is back on speaking terms with the cast of The Simpsons. The network has resolved a salary dispute with six of the show's voice actors that threatened to erase the hit cartoon's 16th season. Although terms of the new four-year pact were not disclosed, according to reports, Dan Castellaneta (Homer), Hank Azaria (Moe, Apu), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Julie Kavner (Marge) and Nancy Cartwright (Bart) will now pocket $5.5 million for working a couple days a year in their sweats. That's up from the $2.8-million annual paycheck each of them had been collecti read more

FIRST-CLASS THRILLER

Jodie Foster has signed on to headline Disney's high-concept thriller Flight Plan. The two-time Oscar winner will play a woman who freaks out when her young daughter mysteriously disappears during a flight to America. The annoying little brat was last seen kicking the seat in front of her and throwing peanuts at the bald man across the aisle. read more

SUNDAYThe Book of Ruth The awful...

SUNDAY

The Book of Ruth
The awful murder. The abuse. The blood. Yet all I keep thinking is: You mean to tell me Aunt Sid pointed Ruth toward the drawerful of letters, forgetting that the one from Mark — in which he trashed her husband and marriage — was in there? Not a chance. Man, nobody hurts you like your kin, huh?

Of course, that same husband did end up being a pill-popping lunatic who hit Ruth and beat her mom to death, but that drawer maneuver was tacky just the same.

State of Play
I guess I should realize praising this show is now a routine with me. The teaser alone is better written than most of what passes for drama on more mainstream American shows. After Cal, being interrogated, tells the cops they oughtta be embarrassed because he's doing a better job on the case than they are, Cameron pipes up with: "Well, you asked for that. I said 10 minutes ago it was getting repetitive. Were either read more

Titanic Star: 50 Is Fabulous


In Laws of Attraction (opening Friday), Frances Fisher plays Julianne Moore's hot mama, Sara Miller, who's addicted to plastic surgery, younger men and rock 'n' roll. The 51-year-old actress — so memorable as Kate Winslet's gold-digging mother in Titanic — hopes her vivacious character will have a life beyond Laws.

"I want to do a spinoff of Sara Miller with [Attraction's helmer] Peter Howitt directing," Fisher says excitedly. "That's what we were all talking about when we were on the set. I feel that Sara could be sort of a new way to look at what 50 years old actually is. [It is] not our mothers' 50."

If her dream movie were made, however, she'd tweak Sara's over-the-top character traits to jive with her own personal outlook. "To tell you the truth, I wouldn't advocate plastic surgery and lip parties," she admits. "That was all a big joke. I'd probably want to tame that down a little bit.

read more

Joan "Mystery" Solved!


When you're master and commander of your own hit series, you can do anything you like: make a cameo appearance, name a character after yourself, give a job to your daughter, Tori... The sky's the limit! Joan of Arcadia creator Barbara Hall knows this very well. So, she tells TV Guide Online, she refused to play God with the songs she writes and records with partner Michael Guidry as the Enablers.

"A lot of different people pick the music for the show, and what I do is make [our material] available to them, because, for me, it doesn't count unless they choose it," Hall explains. "Otherwise," she adds with a laugh, "it's just me putting my music on my own show, which is not hard to do!"

Finally, after almost a full year, Hall's team of taste-makers has selected one of her tunes, the perkily ponderous "Mystery," for use in Friday's season finale (8 pm/ET on CBS). We can't accuse the staff of kissing up to the boss lady, eithe read more

Alyssa Milano's Charmed Future

Playing the same TV character for six years can get a little boring. Unless you're Alyssa Milano. As Phoebe Halliwell on the WB's Charmed, Milano's gone through more than enough costume and personality changes to keep the magic alive for her. "When you're a little girl and you're in this business, which I was at 7 years old, that's what it's all about — playing dress-up," Milano says. The witchy woman — who has turned into a mermaid, a mummy and the Queen of the Underworld, just to name a few — really spices things up on Sunday, when she goes undercover as a dominatrix assassin. TV Guide Online asked Milano to borrow Phoebe's premonitory powers to foretell the future of Charmed.

TV Guide Online: Charmed was recently renewed for its seventh season. Will that be the last one?
Alyssa Milano:
We're all contracted for eight years. But I think we all feel like we want to go out on top. So if our ratings are as strong as th read more

STRIPPED

Christina Aguilera has canceled her 29-date summer tour on the advice of her doctors. The "Dirrty" diva is apparently suffering from strained vocal chords. "I am extremely disappointed to have to cancel this tour," she said in a statement. "I was looking forward to being on the road again and spending time with my fans." Aguilera will now focus on honing her Samantha Jones impersonation for a possible one-woman show. read more

WAR OF WORDS

The Sinclair Broadcast Group is barring its seven ABC-affiliated stations from airing tonight's Nightline tribute to fallen U.S. troops because it says the special "appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq." ABC defends the broadcast as "an expression of respect which simply seeks to honor those who have laid down their lives for this country." read more

AFTERSHOCKS

The scientific community is blasting NBC's earthquake miniseries 10.5 (debuting Sunday) as a complete fantasy. "There is nothing in it that's connected to reality," argues Dr. Lucy Jones, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, in an interview with Reuters. "It's very clear that no scientists were consulted in the making of the movie." That's not exactly true. After seeing the film, I think it's safe to say producers got some tips from Dr. Clifford Cliché and his partner, Dr. Harvey Hackjob. read more

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