Today's News: Our Take


PAGING GARY COLEMAN...

The Game Show Network will spoof the California recall election in an upcoming special, Who Wants to Be Governor of California? The Debating Game. Airing Oct. 1 (a week before the election), the show will feature five of the candidates in a wide-ranging debate, including buzz-in answers and bonus questions. The winner will receive $21,200, the maximum corporate campaign contribution allowed by California law. read more

IN RELATED NEWS...

Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled his 2000 and 2001 income tax returns over the weekend, and the actor-turned-politico made roughly $57 million in those years. Of that, Uncle Sam took only $15.4 million. Note to self: Find out who Conan's accountant is and hire him. read more

DAILY AFFIRMATION

News flash for Stuart Smalley: Doggone it, not everyone likes you. Fox News Channel is suing liberal humorist Al Franken (aka Stuart) to stop him from using the slogan "fair and balanced" in the title of his upcoming book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Fox — which is also seeking unspecified damages — claims it registered "Fair & Balanced" as a trademark in 1995. A rep for Franken's publisher, Dutton, responds, "The attempt to keep the public from reading Franken's message is un-American." read more

SKIRTING THE ISSUE

At a Monday press conference to promote his latest Project Greenlight baby The Battle of Shaker Heights, Ben Affleck dodged questions about whether his recent visit to a Vancouver strip club affected his upcoming wedding to J.Lo. "You can tell your news editors that you are too big for that kind of stuff," he laughed, "that you are better than that, that you rise above it." (Yeah, I told him that — but he still wants the freakin' scoop!) Affleck was much more forthcoming when the topic turned to Gigli, a film he confesses ultimately didn't hold up "as a whole." read more

SOLEMN OCCASION

The major broadcast networks reportedly are planning a low-key observance of the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Unlike last year, ABC, CBS and NBC have no plans to interrupt their regular schedules in favor of wall-to-wall news coverage. Instead, the networks will devote much of that day's news programs to examining America post-9/11. read more

SHORT CUTS

Comedy Central has renewed Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn for another season, through the end of 2004... Fox has greenlit an animated pilot based on The Boondocks comic strip... Just when you thought Al Roker couldn't be any more unrecognizable, the Today show weatherman returned from vacation today with a shaved head. read more

STUNT CASTING ALERT

Film great Ann-Margret will guest-star on three episodes of NBC's Third Watch in November. She'll play a a judge who is being stalked and must be protected by New York's finest. read more

KING'S RANSOM

Lord of the Rings helmer Peter Jackson will pocket $20 million against 20 percent of the gross to direct Universal's upcoming King Kong remake, Variety reports. Sadly, the filmmaker will have to share that fee with Rings scribes Fran Walsh (his wife) and Philippa Boyens, who also serve as his writing partners on Kong. read more

LIFE AFTER SEX

Two stars of Sex and the City are getting a little action on the side. Kim Cattrall will exec produce and star in the HBO movie The Country Girl, based on Clifford Odets's 1950 play. And Kristin Davis has scored the female lead opposite Matthew Modine in the TNT telefilm The Winning Season, which revolves around a 12-year-old boy who finds a magic baseball card. read more

RELIGIOUS FERVOR

The Anti-Defamation League is blasting Mel Gibson's upcoming film The Passion, claiming the project — which chronicles the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ — will fuel anti-Semitism. "The film unambiguously portrays Jewish authorities and the Jewish mob as the ones responsible for the decision to crucify Jesus," says Abraham Foxman, the league's national director. Gibson's rep insists the pic is "about love, hope, faith and forgiveness." read more

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