Today's News: Our Take


Comedian Rodney Dangerfield underwent arterial brain surgery Tuesday to improve his body's blood flow in preparation for an upcoming heart valve replacement. The 81-year-old is currently recovering in an intensive care unit at UCLA Medical Center. read more


Queen Latifah has been tapped to host this year's VH1 Divas concert, featuring Mary J. Blige, Jewel and Chaka Khan. The show airs live at 9 pm/ET on May 22 from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The music network says more performers will be announced in coming weeks, so there's still hope, folks. read more


Carmen Electra is in talks to join the cast of Warner Bros.'s upcoming big-screen adaptation of Starsky and Hutch, starring Ben Stiller as Starsky and Owen Wilson as Hutch. Electra would play Hutch's girlfriend. read more


Fox has given the greenlight to a pair of dramas, both of which could debut this summer. The network has ordered 13 episodes of Wonder Falls, a mystical adventure about a twentysomething living in Niagara Falls, and The O.C., a prime-time soap revolving around a poor kid who relocates to Orange County, Calif., and gasps, "I've never seen so many Republicans in my life." read more


Steven Spielberg has topped Premiere magazine's 2003 list of the 100 most influential people in Hollywood. Among the celebs landing at the top of the heap: Tom Hanks (13), Tom Cruise (14), Mel Gibson (15), Julia Roberts (16) and Reese Witherspoon (32). And just in case you were wondering, yours truly held firm at 145,789. read more


ER hunk Goran Visnjic has been tapped to play the title role in USA Network's four-hour, $20 million miniseries remake of Spartacus. Visnjic succeeds Kirk Douglas, who headlined Stanley Kubrick's 1960 original. There's no word on who will play the Tony Curtis and Laurence Olivier roles, but we hear Elton John and Eminem have expressed interest. read more


NBC News correspondent David Bloom, who died Sunday of a blood clot while covering the war in Iraq, apparently ignored doctors' advice to seek medical attention just days before his death. According to Business Week reporter Frederik Balfour, who was traveling with Bloom, the 39-year-old weekend Today co-anchor complained of cramps behind his knee last week. After describing his symptoms via phone to doctors overseas, Bloom was told he may be suffering from deep venous thrombosis, a condition in which blood clots develop in veins deep within the body. The physicians advised him to seek medical attention, but Bloom "ignored their advice, swallowed some aspirin and kept on working," says Balfour. NBC could not confirm the report. For more on Bloom, click here. read more

Mark Ruffalo's Nude Attitude

Aficionados of Mark Ruffalo (You Can Count on Me, The Last Castle) are in for a treat! The 35-year-old actor's bare derriere is visible for nearly half the running time of his new indie flick, XX/XY (opening Friday). "Mark Ruffalo's Ass is the other name of the movie," he tells TV Guide Online, laughing. "I think the director [Austin Chick] fell in love with my bum."

As a hedonistic artist, Ruffalo tears through a series of painfully dysfunctional relationships — and there's lots of 9 1/2 Weeks-style sexual hijinks along the way. An adulterous romp on a sofa, a three-way tryst... Sheesh! Did he enjoy playing crude in the nude?

"How would it feel for read more

Karen Black's Open House

Although she's headlined both blockbusters and indies, Karen Black has had a frightful time convincing thrill seekers that she's more than just the scream queen from Trilogy of Terror and It's Alive III. So, naturally, when she received an invitation to play a Midwestern madwoman in shock-'n'-roller Rob Zombie's screenwriting and directing debut, House of 1000 Corpses, there was little chance that she'd drop dead from excitement. "I didn't even read the script very well," she admits to TV Guide Online. "I didn't think I wanted to do it.

"But," she continues, "then Rob saw me looking beautiful at the Oscars and said, 'Oh... I'll make your character a nymphomaniac.' I said, 'Well, that's quite a challenge... an Okie nymphomaniac.' So I had to do it!"

Unfortunately, the forme read more

Cher's Last Affair?

Since Cher became a star by crooning on TV, what's her take on the young upstarts hoping to do the same on American Idol? "You know what, I've never seen it," the 56-year-old icon tells TV Guide Online. "I don't really watch TV. Sorry, I've heard that some guy is really mean on it. That's about all I know."

So much for Simon's rakish appeal. Anyway, she's been too busy planning her own two-hour musical spectacular for TV. Cher: The Farewell Tour airs tonight at 9 pm/ET on NBC. But is this really goodbye? We don't "Believe" in life after Cher!

"Well, I'm not leaving the planet!" she cracks. "This is the best show I've ever done. Physically, I'm doing a tour that could kill girls less than half my age. But I don't like being on the road travelling from place to place, being in a different hotel room every night and ge read more

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