Today's News: Our Take


That long-rumored gay cable channel is back on the drawing board at MTV Networks. The company is once again talking to top cable operators about launching Outlet, a 24-hour network geared toward gays, lesbians and at least one of last night's American Idol semifinalists. read more


Thanks to a visit from Dr. Phil and injured snowboarder Tara Dakides, David Letterman's Late Show scored a rare victory over The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Monday. Leno is still expected to win the week, which just baffles me. Meanwhile, more than 14 million people helped Oprah Winfrey celebrate her 50th birthday on Jan. 29, making it the most-watched Oprah episode in more than a decade. By the way, if you missed Saturday Night Live's spoof of "Oprah's Favorite Things — the Birthday Edition" this weekend, find someone who has it on tape. I laughed so hard that Diet Raspberry Snapple shot out, well... you know the drill. read more


Bart, Lisa and Maggie are about to experience a long-overdue growth spurt. Yes, The Simpsons is finally heading to the big screen. Execs at 20th Century Fox confirm that series creator Matt Groening is in the "very early stages" of developing a feature film based on Fox's animated phenom. Simpsons scribe Mike Reiss spilled the beans in an interview with He said the studio "wanted to do this since Season 2. Finally Fox said, 'Let's just do it!' We never had the greatest idea that was compelling, but Fox said, 'Maybe if we start paying you, you'll get inspired.' And, sure enough, it worked!" read more


There's still no word whether Everybody Loves Raymond will return for a ninth and final season next fall, but there's reason to be hopeful. According to reports, series creator Phil Rosenthal and star Ray Romano are holding brainstorming meetings to determine at what price they can be bought, er, I mean whether's there's enough creative juice left in the show to go another year. read more


Intrusive flies are suddenly the least of Rocco DiSpirito's problems. The celeb chef and star of NBC's The Restaurant is being sued by a group of investors who financed his famous Italian eatery. They claim he mismanaged the joint and lost in excess of $600,000. Viewers can see for themselves when The Restaurant kicks off its second season this summer. read more


Fox won the Nielsen derby last week among adults 18-49 on the strength of American Idol, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance and That '70s Show — all of which finished in the top 20. CBS, buoyed by CSI, Survivor: All Stars and the Grammy Awards, ranked second in that demo but first among total viewers. The top five shows last week were American Idol (Tues.), CSI, American Idol (Wed.), the Grammy Awards and Friends. Reba, meanwhile, finished 91st for the week. Now that's what I call a family emergency. read more


Macaulay Culkin has been cast in NBC's Conan O'Brien-produced comedy pilot Foster Hall. The potential series revolves around a brother and sister reunited as adults after being shuffled to various foster homes during their youth. read more


Cable TV giant Comcast Corp. launched a proposal Tuesday to buy the Walt Disney Co. for $66 billion. If the deal goes through, it would make Comcast one of the world's largest media companies. read more


Is Reba McEntire pulling a Brad Garrett? That's the buzz on the set of her WB sitcom Reba, where the country star has gone AWOL on at least two occasions in recent weeks due to a suspicious "family emergency." Word is McEntire is unhappy with her current salary. read more

O.C. Exec Defends Oliver

On tonight's episode of The O.C., the clichéd plot device commonly known as Oliver Trask makes a dramatic exit from the hit soap — and not a moment too soon. Fox's first-year dramedy flirted with some serious jump-the-shark territory with its introduction of the cookie-cutter villain, whose only purpose in life was to throw a kink in Marissa and Ryan's blossoming romance. It was a glaring misstep for a show that seems to pride itself on being the thinking person's 90210. To commemorate Oliver's hotly anticipated swan song, we rang up series creator (and recent Writers Guild of America Award nominee) Josh Schwartz to find out what the heck he was thinking.

TV Guide Online: Dude, what were you thinking? Love the show. Hate Oliver. The guy's a cartoon.
Josh Schwartz:
That's fair. But I make the argument that his actions are coming from a place of lone read more

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