Today's News: Our Take


NOT-SO ENDLESS LOVE

Lionel Richie isn't dancing on the ceiling this morning. The R&B singer's wife, Diane Alexander, filed for separation Wednesday after nearly seven years of marriage. They have two kids, a 9-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter. read more

HE'S STILL THE MAN

Speaking of American Idol, Clay Aiken's debut album Measure of a Man held on to the top spot on Billboard's album chart despite suffering a 64 percent dip in sales. Measure sold 225,000 for a two-week total of 838,000. Rod Stewart's As Time Goes By: The Great American Songbook Part II entered the chart at No. 2 with sales of 212,000 copies. read more

SHORT CUTS

Britney Spears's North American tour will kick off March 3 in a city yet to be announced... The Adventures of Indiana Jones — The Complete DVD Movie Collection sold 1.1 million units during its first week in stores to become the best-selling film boxed-set of all time... TNT has acquired off-network rights to CBS's Without a Trace for $1.35 million an episode. The cabler can begin airing Trace reruns once a week next fall... The season finale of The Joe Schmo Show attracted 3.4 million viewers, giving Spike TV its highest-rated show ever. read more

JUSTIN TIME

Justin Timberlake has signed a deal with ABC Sports that calls for the singer-hottie-comic to star in the network's NBA promotional campaign and write the theme music for its hoops coverage. In addition, the 'N Syncer will serve as a special NBA correspondent. read more

SYD, MEET VICIOUS

Alias spy Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) is about to encounter a truly frightening foe: the boss from The Office. Ricky Gervais, who plays insecure egomaniac David Brent on the BBC America comedy, will guest-star on an upcoming episode as a "juicy, horrible, evil" villain, says the actor, who's set to tape his appearance in early 2004. "[Alias creator] J.J. Abrams is a fan of The Office and offered to write me a part," he says. In fact, Abrams is tailoring the role to Gervais' gift for subtlety. "A good bad guy doesn't have to be arch, over-the-top, mustache-twirly," Abrams adds. "A good bad guy needs to be smart. And certainly, Ricky is smart." Translation: Expect lots of awkward silences. (For more "TV News" scoop, pick up the new issue of TV Guide magazine, on sale Monday!) read more

That '70s Show I love this show...

That '70s Show
I love this show for two reasons. One, it's hilarious, and secondly, because the bad clothes make me grateful to have missed the whole bell-bottom thing. So welcome back, gang. The sixth-season opener did not disappoint. The Grease number was a riot. Eric chose to stay home and help Red recuperate. And Ashton Kutcher in the fat suit has never been funnier. Keep it up, Demi. Oh, and Mila Kunis, get yourself a pair of those black spandex pants. You do look great in them.

It's All Relative
Alias's CIA stick-in-the-mud Victor Garber as a flaming party planner? That beats all, except maybe Lenny Clarke's Mace getting a hands-on exam from a gay doctor. But hey, some would consider that just luck. Thankfully, we got them both, along with a costume party that looked a lot like Frasier's Halloween bash a few seasons ago. Though I think this gathering was actually more butc read more

STORK REPORT

Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe celebrated the birth of their second child, son Deacon Phillippe, last Thursday. The couple, who tied the knot in 1999, also have a 4-year-old daughter Ava Elizabeth. read more

TIME CHECK

Fox's 24 kicked off its third season Tuesday night with 11.6 million viewers. Although the real-time drama was down slightly from last year, it still managed to lead the hour among adults 18-49 (tied with ABC's combo of According to Jim and Less Than Perfect). Ironically, the night's big winner was a lovable loser named Charlie Brown. ABC's telecast of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown attracted 13.2 million and scored the best kids rating for a broadcast program since Fox's finale of American Idol last May. Way to go, Chuck! read more

Is Diane Dating Jack?

In Lifetime's On Thin Ice, Diane Keaton plays a desperate, widowed mom who resorts to selling methamphetamines to keep food on her family's table. Keaton, 57, says she wanted to play the gun-toting, crystal-smoking character — based on a real woman who's now in the witness protection program — to bring attention to the plight of poverty-line parents. "I don't understand how these people get by," she says. But Keaton hasn't left lighter fare behind. She stars with Jack Nicholson in the romantic comedy Something's Gotta Give (opening Dec. 12). And there's talk of an off-screen romance, too...


TV Guide Online: In On Thin Ice, you load up a shotgun and let the bad guy have it. Did you need firearm training?
Keaton:
Yes I did. I hated it. It's a scary thing to have a gun in your hands. They should be left alone.

TVGO: Th read more

Jessica Dreams of Jeannie


Big-screen versions of classic TV shows are all the rage in Hollywood right now. Nicole Kidman plans to play Samantha Stephens — the nose-twitchin' witch originated by Elizabeth Montgomery — in a Bewitched movie. And if Jessica Simpson gets her way, she'll be the one to fill Barbara Eden's sequined bra and harem pants for an I Dream of Jeannie flick. But will the pop tart's wish be granted?

According to the Newlyweds star's manager-dad, Joe Simpson, yes. With Columbia Pictures moving forward on a film adaptation of Jeannie, Pop says, "she'd be one of their top contenders."

And here's how sure the "Irresistible" vixen feels she's right for the part. Earlier this month, Simpson took a risk by making a very public plea to Sony on Larry King Live, tel read more

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