Today's News: Our Take


Marissa Jaret Winokur, the breakout star of Broadway's Hairspray, will play the title role in the upcoming ABC Family movie Beautiful Girl. She'll star as a plus-sized gal who enters a local beauty pageant hoping to win a free honeymoon. Fran Drescher and Mark Consuelos (aka Mr. Kelly Ripa) co-star. read more


Time to brush up on your New Wave hairdos! Several original members of the trail-blazing '80s synth-pop group Berlin — among them founding father John Crawford and lead singer Terri Nunn — got together recently at The Roxy in West Hollywood to tape a special for VH1. Since the gang's Reagan-era breakup, Nunn has assembled a new backing band and, earlier this year, released Voyeur, an album of fresh (in every sense of the word!) Berlin material. read more


Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme are heading back to The West Wing — sort of. WW's former producers will provide audio commentary on the show's upcoming first season DVD, due out on Nov. 18, Variety reports. read more


The latest episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy set new ratings records for Bravo — but that may not be a good thing for Officer John Verdi, the Port Authority cop at the center of Tuesday's edition. Among the nearly 3 million people who watched the installment were Verdi's PA bosses, who, according to the New York Daily News, were not amused that the cop allowed Queer stars Carson Kressley and Thom Filicia to don his uniform in one amusing segment. Apparently, Verdi never got permission to identify himself as a PA cop and should not have allowed a civilian to wear his uniform. A PA spokesman says the agency is "looking into the matter." Speaking of Queer's Kressley, the fab fashionista has officially arrived. According to Variety, the show's reigning diva has signed with high-powered Hollywood agency ICM for representation in all areas. read more


Poor ticket sales have forced the cancellation of Ben & Jerry's "One World One Heart Festival," which was scheduled for this weekend at the original 1969 Woodstock concert site. Tracy Chapman and LeAnn Rimes were among the headliners slated to perform. read more


Angelina Jolie is poised to star opposite Brad Pitt in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the on-again off-again thriller about a bored married couple who discover that they are enemy assassins hired to kill each other. Jolie replaces Nicole Kidman, who dropped out over a scheduling conflict. read more


CBS has inked a deal with the family of Elizabeth Smart for a TV movie chronicling the Utah teen's nine-month abduction and eventual rescue. Dylan Baker and Lindsay Frost have been cast as the parents and Canadian actress Amber Marshall will play Elizabeth. Production is scheduled to begin next month and the network is eyeing a November air date. read more


New Practice recruit Sharon Stone is in talks to play the female villain in Catwoman, the big-screen Batman spinoff starring Halle Berry. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Stone would play a cosmetics giant who secretly runs an evil operation. read more


Kelly and Jon's worst nightmare came true on last night's mega-suspenseful Amazing Race 4 finale: They got beat by two gay guys. In what had to be the most exciting sexual orientation showdown since Richard Hatch trumped his hetero rivals on the first season of Survivor, hottie gay marrieds Reichen and Chip prevailed over bickering straight couple Kelly and Jon. The pair walk away with a cool $1 million and bragging rights to being Amazing Race's first gay champions. Best friends David and Jeff, meanwhile, came in a distant (and rather sad) third. If you have questions for Reichen and Chip or Kelly and Jon, e-mail them to me via the link at the bottom of this column and I will be sure to forward them on to my colleague Ethan Alter, who will be speaking to the quartet this weekend. And if you have questions for David and Jeff, please e-mail them to me via the link at the bottom of this column and I will be sure to for read more

Christine Baranski's Happy Daze

These days, Christine Baranski is always smiling — and no, it's not because she's soused, either. Rather, the Cybill survivor is merely punch drunk because not only is she starring with John Larroquette in what may be this season's smartest comedy, NBC's Happy Family (premiering Sept. 9 at 8:30 pm/ET), but she's also still reaping the rewards of her stint as rich bitch Maryann.

"I so often hear from people, 'Oh, you're so much softer [than I expected you to be],'" the actress relates. "And I've had people come to do my hair and makeup for a photo and [be] like, 'Oh my God, I was so nervous about meeting you.'

"But," she adds quickly, "it's fun to have played that kind of character. I've been offered more free martinis in my life! I can step on a plane and [the stewardesses] will say, 'We'll get you your martini as soon as we take off.' So there are perks to being that character."

In the long run, however, Baransk read more

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