Today's News: Our Take


The major broadcast networks reportedly are planning a low-key observance of the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Unlike last year, ABC, CBS and NBC have no plans to interrupt their regular schedules in favor of wall-to-wall news coverage. Instead, the networks will devote much of that day's news programs to examining America post-9/11. read more


The Game Show Network will spoof the California recall election in an upcoming special, Who Wants to Be Governor of California? The Debating Game. Airing Oct. 1 (a week before the election), the show will feature five of the candidates in a wide-ranging debate, including buzz-in answers and bonus questions. The winner will receive $21,200, the maximum corporate campaign contribution allowed by California law. read more


Lord of the Rings helmer Peter Jackson will pocket $20 million against 20 percent of the gross to direct Universal's upcoming King Kong remake, Variety reports. Sadly, the filmmaker will have to share that fee with Rings scribes Fran Walsh (his wife) and Philippa Boyens, who also serve as his writing partners on Kong. read more


At a Monday press conference to promote his latest Project Greenlight baby The Battle of Shaker Heights, Ben Affleck dodged questions about whether his recent visit to a Vancouver strip club affected his upcoming wedding to J.Lo. "You can tell your news editors that you are too big for that kind of stuff," he laughed, "that you are better than that, that you rise above it." (Yeah, I told him that — but he still wants the freakin' scoop!) Affleck was much more forthcoming when the topic turned to Gigli, a film he confesses ultimately didn't hold up "as a whole." read more


It's been a bad week for Rocco's. After receiving yet another God-awful review in a local New York paper, the eatery at the center of NBC's The Restaurant was cited for six health-code violations, according to I'll stick with my Evergreen Diner right here on 47th, thank you very much. read more


Film great Ann-Margret will guest-star on three episodes of NBC's Third Watch in November. She'll play a a judge who is being stalked and must be protected by New York's finest. read more


Two men are suing Sean "P. Diddy" Combs for $25 million each, claiming members of Combs's security team attacked them last August. According to the suit, Thomas Guest and Damon Jackson say they were assaulted at the rap mogul's recording studio in Manhattan. Combs's rep calls the suits "totally baseless." read more


News flash for Stuart Smalley: Doggone it, not everyone likes you. Fox News Channel is suing liberal humorist Al Franken (aka Stuart) to stop him from using the slogan "fair and balanced" in the title of his upcoming book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Fox — which is also seeking unspecified damages — claims it registered "Fair & Balanced" as a trademark in 1995. A rep for Franken's publisher, Dutton, responds, "The attempt to keep the public from reading Franken's message is un-American." read more


Comedy Central has renewed Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn for another season, through the end of 2004... Fox has greenlit an animated pilot based on The Boondocks comic strip... Just when you thought Al Roker couldn't be any more unrecognizable, the Today show weatherman returned from vacation today with a shaved head. read more


Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled his 2000 and 2001 income tax returns over the weekend, and the actor-turned-politico made roughly $57 million in those years. Of that, Uncle Sam took only $15.4 million. Note to self: Find out who Conan's accountant is and hire him. read more

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