Today's News: Our Take


There's apparently no stopping American Idol. Last night's third-season premiere attracted a deafening 28 million viewers, making it the night's most watched program by a landslide. It also helped boost the debut of My Big Fat Obnoxious Fianc&#233, which reeled in a big, fat 20 million viewers. Of course, if the second episode is as obnoxious as the first — and judging by last night's teaser, it will be — expect that number to tumble dramatically next Monday. read more


Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ may have lost a key endorsement. One of Pope John Paul II's cronies — Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz — told the Catholic News Service that his boss "told no one his opinion of this film." That contradicts earlier reports that quoted the Holy Father as saying the controversial flick about the crucifixion of Christ "is as it was." Turns out what he actually said was, "It is no Weekend at Bernie's." read more

Question: Who was the genius ...

Question: Who was the genius behind the amazing essay Ephram Brown wrote on that episode of Everwood? — Elizabeth, Baltimore, Md.

Televisionary: The Oct. 6 Everwood episode, "East Meets West," was written by John E. Pogue. And for those of you who missed it, here's "My Fatal Flaw," the essay written by Ephram (Gregory Smith) on the show:

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I'm not sure who the first person was who said that. Probably Shakespeare. Or maybe Sting. But at the moment, it's the sentence that best explains my tragic flaw: my inability to change.

I don't think I'm alone in this. The more I get to know other people, the more I realize it's kind of everyone's flaw. Staying exactly the same for as long as possible, standing perfectly still. It feels safer somehow. And if you are suffering, at least the pain is familiar. Because if you took that read more


The estate of George Harrison has settled its lawsuit against the late Beatle's cancer doctor. The $10 million suit — filed earlier this month by the singer's widow, Olivia, and their son, Dhani — accused Dr. Gilbert Lederman of forcing Harrison to autograph a guitar for his son. Under the terms of the settlement, the instrument in question "will be disposed of privately" and Lederman's son will be given a handful of Swedish Fish and a balloon. read more

Question: Why did Tattoo ...

Question: Why did Tattoo leave Fantasy Island? It seemed like a good setup. — Phoebe N., St. Augustine, Fla.

Televisionary: It was, but late actor Herve Villechaize wanted to make it a better paying one and asked for a raise when the series, which launched as a big hit for ABC in January 1978, had already begun to fade in the ratings. So he was voted off the island and replaced by the considerably taller (6-foot-2) Lawrence, a British butler played by Christopher Hewett, who joined the cast in 1983 and stayed until the series left the air in August 1984.

Even before that episode, however, producers were casting about for a replacement for the diminutive (3-foot-11) Villechaize. A couple of years earlier, the actor asked for a cut in hours for medical reasons (he had breathing problems) and then made a fuss when his request was granted and a new character, a goddaughter (Wendy Schaal) for Fantasy Island head honcho Mr. Roarke (Ricard read more


The Writers Guild of America announced nominations for its annual TV kudos on Monday, and two episodes of Fox's Malcolm in the Middle will compete with installments of Sex and the City and Frasier on the comedy side. Law & Order: SVU led the drama contenders with two nods — including one for Stephanie March's riveting final episode. Competing with SVU will be The O.C., The West Wing and the original Law & Order. Winners will be announced Feb. 21. read more


Martha Stewart's gonna have a tough time getting people to focus on her salad today when jury selection in her securities fraud trial begins in New York City. Potential jurors will reportedly be asked such questions as: "Have you ever purchased a Martha Stewart product? Have you ever made a project or cooked a recipe from Martha Stewart? Do you think psycho Oliver is ruining all that is good and sacred about The O.C.?" Opening arguments could begin later this week. read more


British rock band Oasis has fired drummer Alan White. "[He] has been asked to leave Oasis by the other band members," read a terse message on the group's official Web site. "There are no plans to replace Alan. The band's scheduled recording sessions remain unaffected." read more


It'll be several weeks at least before Ray Romano makes a decision about a ninth season of Everybody Loves Raymond. CBS initially said a verdict would come down in January, but now the network's entertainment president, Les Moonves, tells TV Guide Online that "the decision is a month away." Meanwhile, Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal hinted Monday that the end could be near. "Some shows have gone on for too long, and we know which ones they are," he told reporters at the annual NATPE conference in Las Vegas. "You want to get off the stage before someone tells you to get off the stage." read more

Warning: Tonight is a reality...

Warning: Tonight is a reality TV type of night. So if you can't handle a manipulated, heavily edited, prime-time version of truth, just skip this night all together. I probably should have.

A good thing: That supervisor Mike is some kind of saint. Truly. Because, and this is awful, but I don't know if I could have helped a strange man change his pooped-in pants. Alzheimer's or not.
A bad thing: Southwest apparently runs its airline like a beauty shop and intentionally overbooks flights supposedly to "save us money." According to this show, "many" airlines do it. What?! A&E needed to not tell me this. Life was better when I did not know.

American Idol 3
Jesus and Noel are going to Hollywood, dawg! So is Scooter Girl. Like I care.

Chasing Freedom
OK. Here's the deal. Movies like this make me proud to be an American and feel guilty about it at the same time read more

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