Today's News: Our Take


Enterprise Plots Exposed!


You have to wonder which was more devastating: The attack on Earth by the Xindi — a race that believes 400 years in the future, humanity will destroy their homeworld — or the precipitous 32 percent ratings drop Enterprise (Wednesdays at 8 pm/ET on UPN) suffered last season. To stem that galactic tide, the producers wisely gave focus to the crew and Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) last May by sending them off into Xindi territory, a dangerous area of space known as the Delphic Expanse. "[Archer] is no longer indecisive in what he is doing," says executive producer Rick Berman. "He's on a vital mission, and he's become much more determined and tougher and stronger."

Last week, we were introduced to the Xindi's five types of species: humanoid, reptilian, slothlike, insectoid and aquatic. And it also became apparent that the Xindi planet has already been destroyed. With that pesky groundwork all settled, get ready read more

SEX SELLS

A whopping 7.7 million viewers watched Sunday's mini-season finale of Sex and the City, during which Mikhail Baryshnikov was introduced as Carrie's (Sarah Jessica Parker) latest beau. (Note to Big: You've got nothing to worry about, dude.) That was the comedy's second most-watched episode ever. The show returns with eight final episodes in January. Meanwhile, Sex's impressive climax helped boost the debut of Carnivale, which drew 5.3 million viewers — HBO's best series bow to date. read more

Kelley Defends The Practice


When The Practice creator David E. Kelley acted as judge and jury last spring, firing much of the Emmy-winning drama's cast, it shocked Hollywood. But this took a personal toll on the veteran producer, who says he endured several sleepless nights struggling with his decision. "It was very tough on a human level," he says. "I was kinda wishing that the show had been cancelled, rather than have to do that."

Instead, faced with ABC's decision to cut the show's $6.5 million-an-episode budget by half, Kelley ultimately decided to ax many of the series' most popular stars, including Dylan McDermott and Lara Flynn Boyle. With the exception of McDermott — whose $300,000-per-episode fee proved too rich a deal for the newly cash-strapped series — Kelley kept the actors whose characters he felt had the most storyline potential going into the series' eighth season. The lucky survivors: Camryn Manheim, Steve Harris, Michael Bada read more

Kate Beckinsale Vamps It Up


British beauty Kate Beckinsale has always avoided typecasting by acting in both English indies and Hollywood blockbusters. But suddenly, this 30-year-old Pearl Harbor vet is becoming the go-to vampire starlet: Moviegoers will find her flashing her fangs in Underworld — opening Friday — and hunting bloodsuckers with Hugh Jackman in next summer's Van Helsing. How odd for an actress who initially turned up her nose at the whole vamp genre.

"I was a little bit prejudiced about vampire movies," admits Beckinsale, who's now engaged to Underworld director Len Wiseman. "I didn't fancy running around in a nightgown and waving garlic and getting my neck bit. Then, I got [the script] and it was a cool comic-book action movie, with a girl who looked like she was a proper action hero."

Looking the undead part in Underworld meant forgetting all about those distressed damsel nightgowns. No, this dominant lady's read more

FAREWELL

Actor-singer Sheb Wooley, best known for his work in Westerns like High Noon and for recording the No. 1 hit "Purple People Eater," died Tuesday of leukemia. He was 82. Wooley also appeared in some 50 TV shows, including The Lone Ranger, Rawhide, The Mod Squad and Murder, She Wrote. read more

MADONNA IN THE ZONE

After their MTV kiss, Madonna and Britney Spears got into bed together. That is to say, the pop tarts are recording a duet titled "Me Against the Music" for Brit's fourth album, Get in the Zone. The single goes out to radio stations on Sept. 30. As previously reported, the release of the album itself has been delayed indefinitely. read more

CHARMED, ANYONE?

Sandra Bullock is developing an hourlong drama for CBS that's basically an offshoot of the 1998 film Practical Magic, which starred Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Like the movie, the TV show will revolve around two sisters who struggle with the blessing/curse of magical abilities, Variety reports. And just to be clear, Bullock will produce — not star in — the potential series. Of course, a few more Murder by Numbers and that could all change. read more

MUSIC KUDOS

American Music Awards nominations are out! In the male pop-rock artist category, American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken is competing with the big boys — Kid Rock, John Mayer and Justin Timberlake. Meanwhile, Celine Dion snagged two nods: The one for favorite adult contemporary artist puts her up against Cher and Norah Jones. The other, for fave female pop-rock artist, has her vying with Avril Lavigne and J.Lo. Eminem got nods for favorite male rapper and the 8 Mile soundtrack, while Sean Paul and Missy Elliott also are up for hip-hop honors. read more

WE WANT PROOF

Do you believe in life after tour? Cher apparently does, because the diva is finally ending her oft-extended Living Proof farewell tour on Halloween night in Toronto. That's the same city where the tour began, like, 14 years ago. read more

H2... OH NO HE DIDN'T!

A 40-year-old man has been charged with attempting to cut off the water supply to illusionist David Blaine, who is spending more than six weeks holed up in a glass box beside the River Thames in London. Stephen Field allegedly climbed nearby scaffolding and tried to cut through water pipes attached to the box. Blaine is 10 days into his 44-day stint. read more

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