Today's News: Our Take


BUCKLE UP

Queen Latifah has signed on to play a cab driver in Taxi, 20th Century Fox's English-language remake of the 1998 French pic, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Barbershop helmer Tim Story is in talks to direct. read more

RELIGIOUS BACKLASH

For the first time, Mel Gibson is speaking out in defense of his controversial film The Passion, which depicts the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus Christ. Some groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have accused the pic of being anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic. "To be certain, neither I nor my film is anti-Semitic," Gibson tells Variety. "My intention in bringing [The Passion] to the screen is to create a lasting work of art and engender serious thought among audiences of diverse faith backgrounds." And if it makes him richer, even better! read more

ANCHOR'S AWAY

As first reported by TV Guide's J. Max Robins, CNN has hired NBC Weekend Today anchor Soledad O'Brien to co-host its three-hour news program American Morning, the network now confirms. She replaces Paula Zahn, who left American Morning in April to helm CNN's nightly newscast, American Evening. read more

WORK OF ART

Britney Spears is getting a boob job — at least her wax figure is. A rep for Madame Tussauds in London confirms that the museum is working on a new Spears figure that will feature a pair of "heaving" breasts. In response, Colin Farrell has asked that his figure be updated to include hands that can squeeze large objects. read more

SPIKE VS. SPIKE

A Manhattan judge did the right thing by Spike Lee on Thursday. The judge granted Lee's petition and ordered Viacom to stop using Spike TV as the new name for cable network TNN, pending a trial. The filmmaker claims Spike TV represents a deliberate attempt on Viacom's part to capitalize on his image and prestige. In related news, rumor has it that Lee's court victory has prompted Kermit the Frog to take action against the WB. read more

DEATH OF A LEGEND

Turner Classic Movies will honor Hollywood legend Gregory Peck on Monday with an 11-film tribute. The marathon, which kicks off at 6 am/ET, will include such Peck classics as The Yearling and Moby Dick. Peck died Wednesday night at age 87. Back in 1962, he won an Oscar for playing homespun attorney Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird; the character recently was named AFI's No. 1 movie hero. One of film's most distinguished leading men, Peck also starred in classics like Roman Holiday and Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound. read more

ICEBERG, DEAD AHEAD!

Ireland's first reality TV show has run aground — literally. A boat carrying the cast and crew of Cabin Fever, a reality series that's sort of Big Brother on the high seas, crashed into rocks and broke apart Friday. Everyone made it safely to shore, but producers nonetheless have reason to mourn: Sadly, the cameras weren't rolling during the catastrophe. Now that's tragic. read more

D'OH!

Here's another reason you gotta love them Brits. According to a just-released BBC online poll, the folks across the pond have named Homer Simpson the greatest American that ever lived. Bart's deadbeat dad outranked such bigwigs as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and George Washington. read more

STORM BREWING

Halle Berry has filed a $2 million countersuit against the former owners of her Beverly Hills house, claiming the pad needs more than $1 million in repairs. The alleged culprits, Jonathan and Alison Roth, filed their own pre-emptive suit on June 10, insisting the 34-year-old actress bought the home "as-is" in 2001. read more

ON THE MEND

Luther Vandross has been moved out of intensive care and upgraded to stable condition. The 52-year-old singer had been in critical condition since suffering a stroke on April 16. "[He] is more and more responsive each day," his manager says. "I feel as though I am watching a modern day miracle." read more

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