Today's News: Our Take


An Asian-American media group says Fox's new comedy Banzai demeans and stereotypes Asian people, and the dissenters staged a protest Thursday at the TCA press tour to voice their anger. In reponse to the controversy, Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman said, "Well, the show itself is a parody of Japanese game shows. Certainly, we think the bulk of the audience has understood that." read more


Saturday Night Live's Jimmy Fallon has been cast opposite Queen Latifah in Taxi, 20th Century Fox's in-the-works remake of the 1998 French flick about a cabbie (Latifah) who teams with a cop (Fallon) to solve a series of bank robberies. read more


In a bid to revive George Stephanopoulos's struggling This Week, ABC has taken the unusual step of merging the show's behind-the-scenes operations with Nightline. read more


Jennifer Lopez may be many things — a big ol' diva, for instance — but she's not a two-timer. J.Lo insists that even though she met fiancé Ben Affleck in late 2001 on the set of Gigli, she did not sleep with him until after she separated from her then dancer-husband Cris Judd. "I'm a very faithful person," the actress-singer told Reader's Digest. "If somebody had told me, 'Ben's attracted to you,' I would have said, 'No, I wasn't raised that way.'" read more


William Shatner and his ex-wife Marcy Lafferty have reached a settlement in a dispute over breeding privileges for the Star Trek icon's three American saddle-bred stallions. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Lafferty sued Shatner in April, claiming he had broken an agreement in their 1995 divorce settlement. Yeah, I know — must be a slow news day. read more


Fox will air the third-season premiere of 24 commercial-free (courtesy of Ford) on Oct. 28, the network announced Thursday at the Television Critics Assoc. press tour in Hollywood, Calif. For my minute-by-minute rundown of the day's highlights, click here. read more

Tomb Raider Stud's Bad Luck

Get ready to meet the hottest Scottish export since Ewan! You may not know Gerard Butler's ruggedly handsome face yet, but after all his supporting roles in flicks like Reign of Fire, it looks like 2003 will finally be his big, breakout year. That is, if his thespian vanity doesn't do him in.

Butler will star in Michael Crichton's Timeline this November, and he just landed the title role in the big-screen Phantom of the Opera. But he nearly blew his audition to play Angelina Jolie's traitorous lover in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (opening read more


French media empire Vivendi Universal, which is for sale, has rejected an $11.5 billion bid from MGM. The offer was apparently deemed insufficient, which means other suitors, including NBC and Liberty Media, are still in the running. Not that you give a fig about any of this. read more


Salsa singer Celia Cruz died in her New Jersey home on Wednesday at the age of 78. The Cuban-born Grammy winner was stricken with cancer, and had been comatose since Tuesday. Cruz, whose sassy trademarks were an over-the-top wardrobe and the catchphrase "Az&#250car!" — Spanish for "sugar" — passed away with her husband, drummer Pedro Knight, and friends at her bedside. read more


This isn't going to make Dick Wolf very happy: For the first time in 12 years, Law & Order failed to score a best drama series nomination. (Its 11-consecutive nods tie the record set by Cheers and M*A*S*H.) Instead, voters gave that coveted fifth slot to CBS's powerhouse forensics thriller CSI, which will compete for top drama honors with Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, 24 and The West Wing. Sadly MIA: Alias, Boomtown, American Dreams and The Shield. Clearly, Academy voters failed to heed our read more

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