Today's News: Our Take

Sean Astin: Happy Hobbit

Sean Astin is a drifter who chats with God in Jeremiah, his post-apocalyptic Showtime series co-starring Luke Perry and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. It's perfect casting for the actor/director who, after all, had already spent years toiling in the New Zealand fields of the Lord — the Lord of the Rings trilogy, that is! In fact, the filming took so long, Astin — who plays Frodo's hobbit aide-de-camp Samwise Gamgee — says he had his own "spiritual epiphanies." (As any self-respecting fan knows, the final chapter of the fantasy series, The Return of the King, opens Dec. 17.)

Given his post-Rings weight loss of 40 pounds, Astin hopes for more leading roles. Still, he calls his tubby hobbit "the single best supporting read more


Former Party of Fiver Neve Campbell is poised to play silent-film star-turned-elusive actress Louise Brooks in an upcoming big screen biopic. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actress purchased Peter Nickowitz and Bill Oliver's screenplay Lulu as an acting vehicle for herself. There's just one problem with this: If Julia can't speak, who's gonna tell Bailey that Owen's hurt next time he falls off the wagon? This is gonna bug me all day. read more


Dawson's Creek babe Katie Holmes is in talks to play the female lead in Warner Bros.' new Batman flick, which stars Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader. Holmes would play Batman's love interest, Rachel. read more


MTV will once again produce the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show for CBS. The corporate siblings partnered for the 2001 Super Bowl, which featured Aerosmith, 'N Sync and Britney Spears. "We plan on even more unexpected music performances," teases MTV president Van Toffler, "that will go down in halftime history." This has Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey written all over it. read more


Caroline in the City alum Lea Thompson has been cast in a three-episode story arc on Ed, set to air in January. Thompson will play Ed's philandering ex-girlfriend. Is there any other kind? read more


Survivor guru Mark Burnett is developing a reality series for Fox that will focus on the relaunch of Las Vegas' famed downtown Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino. The show is slated to debut this summer. read more


It's the end of an era in kiddie porn. Abercrombie & Fitch announced Tuesday that it would retire its controversial quarterly catalog, which regularly draws protests for its R-rated layouts featuring young men and women engaged in foreplay with assorted fleece. In a statement, the company said "it is time for new thinking," adding that it "looks forward to unveiling an innovative and exciting campaign in the spring" that will generate no interest whatsoever. read more


Finally, some good news for Michael Jackson. According to a "bombshell internal government memo" obtained by, a confidential investigation by Los Angeles police and child welfare officials concluded earlier this year that allegations that Jacko sexually abused a cancer-stricken boy were "unfounded." According to the memo, the boy allegedly told investigators that Jacko had not sexually abused them. However, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon says his office was aware of the investigation and it did not affect his decision to pursue charges. read more


The first installment of the much-hyped HBO miniseries Angels in America attracted 4.2 million viewers Sunday, making it the network's highest-rated movie this year. For Max Robins' take on this, click here — but please, finish my column first. read more


Adam Sandler is producing a comedy series for the WB described as a modern-day Laverne & Shirley with an Absolutely Fabulous sensibility to it. It would star Chicago-based comics Dana Goodman and Julia Wolov, whose raunchy act at the 2002 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen caught Sandler's eye. read more

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