Today's News: Our Take


Claire Danes: Sentenced to Life


Oh, the pitfalls of teen stardom. Sure, you get to mix with beautiful people and earn more pocket money than the average grocery bagger. The trade off? You'll be followed forever by a visual chronicle of your most awkward years. That's the deal for Claire Danes, who now cringes whenever fans approach her to autograph that newly-issued DVD of My So-Called Life.

"I have real fond memories of that time and really terrific associations with the show," says the 23-year-old, who currently plays Meryl Streep's daughter in The Hours. "It was just a very special experience. But my adolescence was very carefully documented. It's not something we like to see... My voice was kind of funny at times, and I didn't know about read more

Nathan Lane Throws a Political Party


Four years after getting booed off stage as the star of the NBC sitcom Encore! Encore!, Nathan Lane is finally ready for his curtain call. CBS has elected the Tony-winner to play a freshman congressman in the midseason comedy Charlie Lawrence. And this time around, Lane insists, he got it right.

For starters, while Encore! cast the openly gay Birdcage thesp as — gasp! — a skirt-chasing opera singer, Lawrence finds Lane in more familiar territory. "He's an openly gay actor who ends up getting elected to Congress," the 46-year-old performer tells TV Guide Online. "I thought this was an interesting venue, to put a gay character into the world of politics."

In addition to starring in the series, Lane also serves as an exec producer and writer. In other words, if Lawrence is a flop, he has no one to blame but himself. "The first time around, I was terribly na&#239ve," he laments of the Encore! deba read more

Newbie Snags JFK Jr. Role


While living in Manhattan in the late '90s, actor Kristoffer Polaha often saw JFK Jr. rollerblading and bicycling about town. Little did he know the Kennedy scion would die so young — and that he'd end up playing the guy in a TV movie! Yes kids, this Sunday he stars in the latest Kennedy telepic, America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story (8 pm/ET on TBS). How surreal is that?

"In reality," Polaha tells TV Guide Online, "that's how New Yorkers knew him, from seeing him rollerblading in Washington Square Park. One day my mom and I were in a cab, and I pointed him out to her. She flipped out and almost wet herself!"

Imitating Kennedy's urban athleticism in the middle of NYC traffic wasn't easy. "We did a day of filming there," he recalls, "and I rode eight miles through city streets, with a camera crew following me in a van. Around Fifth Avenue and 88th Street, I had to stop. My thighs were wrecked. I got my workout!"

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Busta Rhymes Gets Busted Up!


Busta Rhymes isn't dabbling in movies to add more gangsta glam to his hip-hop lifestyle. Just look at the drab setting of his scenes in Narc, which were filmed in a dirty, hazardous Toronto warehouse in the dead of winter. The 31-year-old star — last seen in Halloween: Resurrection — tells TV Guide Online he truly suffered for his art.

"It was one of the most uncomfortable experiences in my life," says Rhymes, who plays a drug dealer suspected of murder. "The conditions of the environment brought out a lot of natural reactions that I probably wouldn't be able to fake. I'm still new to the acting thing, so I'm trying to develop my skills on those levels where I could be in 100-degree temperature and act like I'm in 100 below."

With the notoriously intense Ray Liotta playing his police interrogator, Rhymes says looking scared didn't take much effort! "[Ray] had some scenes where he had to beat us up in the chair, smack us arou read more

ROOKIE REDUX

Sitcom star Bernie Mac has signed on to play a former baseball player lured out of retirement in the Disney comedy Mr. 3000, Variety reports. Mac's character returns to the game when three of his past base hits are disallowed, dropping him below the 3,000-hit plateau. read more

Practice Starlet Gets Own Show!


Not that we're bitter or envious — Never! — but isn't life just a tad too ducky for Marla Sokoloff? Let's count her bountiful blessings: The cute 22-year-old actress gets to play saucy secretary Lucy on The Practice and date James Franco offscreen. Now, Madonna's Maverick Films has tapped Sokoloff to star in her own hourlong drama on ABC!

"The show is called Alyx," she tells TV Guide Online. "It's about this girl who's a larger-than-life pop star. She decides she wants to be a rock star, so she leaves the pop world behind and kinda has to start from scratch.

"It's very similar to the Alanis Morrisette story," Sokoloff adds. "Alanis was huge in Canada and then came here to do her own thing. Alyx is really big in Germany — almost like a Britney Spears with her dancers, glitter and shiny lipstick. Then, she decides, 'I don't want to do this read more

Portia de Rossi Weds a Kennedy!


The series finale of Ally McBeal proved a dull downer, but in our humble opinion, Portia de Rossi was the best thing about that dramedy right up until the very end. "Oh, really?!" she exclaims to TV Guide Online. "Listen to me, I'm shocked. That's so lovely!"

Though the Aussie actress — who turns 30 this month — has trouble taking the compliment, she finds our Ally criticism dead-on. "I don't think [the final episode] was the most generous approach to an audience who stuck with us for five years," de Rossi admits. "Like, have Ally go back to Boston to be with Larry! You know, make it sweeter. To see Ally McBeal walk down the street on her way to New York City, one of the loneliest cities in the world, where she doesn't know anyone, was sad.

"But," she chuckles, "I think Calista Flockhart meeting Harrison Ford in her personal life made everyone happier! She's so happy wit read more

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

After starring in a string of shlocky flicks (Maid in Manhattan! Enough!), Jennifer Lopez is getting serious about her film career. The actress-singer is in final talks to headline the big-screen drama An Unfinished Life, to be directed by Cider House Rules helmer Lasse Hallstrom. J.Lo would play a young single mother who is forced to move in with her estranged father-in-law. read more

Christopher Walken: Self-Professed Oddball


Christopher Walken is the first to admit that, well, he's an odd bird. "Sure, I'm a little weird," he confesses to TV Guide Online. "But we're all a little weird." Of course, the 59-year-old Oscar winner's choice of film roles — from a sadistic Italian in 1991's Comfort of Strangers to a menacing angel in 1995's The Prophecy — has only upped his strangeness quotient. Although Walken came back down to earth to play Leonardo DiCaprio's endearingly mischievous old man in Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, the onetime lion tamer's head remained in the clouds at the film's recent press junket. Don't believe us? Well, here are four reasons Walken's kooky rep makes total sense. (Warning: This story contains a Catch spoiler!)

1. Walken had no clue that Frank Abagnale Sr. — the real-life character he plays in Catch — actually passed away more than 30 years ago. In fact, Abagn read more

STORK REPORT

Drew Carey Show star Christa Miller, 38, gave birth Friday to a baby boy named William Stoddard Lawrence. It's Miller's second child with hubby Bill Lawrence, the executive producer of NBC's Scrubs. The couple also have a 2-year-old daughter, Charlotte. read more

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