Today's News: Our Take


SHORT CUTS

NBC has inked a deal with mystery writer James Patterson for three more TV movie adaptations, including 2nd Chance and 3rd Degree — the follow-ups to last season's highly-rated 1st to Die flick... All the publicity surrounding that Fox News Channel lawsuit has propelled Al Franken's upcoming book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, to No. 1 on Amazon. read more

I SPY A... D'UH!

Alias fans, you may want to sit down for this: Jennifer Garner is dating her leading man Michael Vartan! The official confirmation — which came as a complete shock to no one — was issued by Garner's spokeswoman, who told Us Weekly that the pair "were friends and they recently started dating." Garner split from her hubby, ex-Felicity star Scott Foley, last April, but according to Us, she and Vartan didn't start dating until Alias resumed production two weeks ago. It's not a lie if you believe it. read more

GOOD DEAL

Former Roseanne patriarch John Goodman has signed a deal with CBS to headline a sitcom targeted for fall 2004, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This would be the actor's first starring TV role since his ill-fated Fox comedy Normal, Ohio flopped in 2000. The premise of the new show is still being hammered out. read more

NEW SUIT

Alec Baldwin's onetime business partner is suing him for fraud and breach of contract, claiming the 45-year-old hairy-chested thesp owes her $125,000 of his earnings from the recent TNT movie Second Nature. Corrinne Mann says she developed the TV movie with Baldwin and is entitled to half of the fees he collected from the project. read more

The Second Coming of Jason Bateman


Perhaps not since Tom Hanks shook off the stink of Bosom Buddies has a more-or-less dismissed actor been poised to make as stunning a comeback as Jason Bateman. This fall, Justine's kid brother returns in Fox's Arrested Development (premiering Nov. 2 at 9:30 pm/ET), which he describes as "The Royal Tenenbaums shot like Cops." Even more promising, the quirky docu-style family comedy comes to the tube from highfalutin movie producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

"I've always been very aware of my 'baggage,' per se," admits the child star of The Hogan Family read more

THE DOCTOR IS IN

ER's top doc Noah Wyle may be taking some time off this fall, but his commitment to NBC's long-running hospital drama is hardly wavering. Wyle has extended his ER contract for another year, through the 2004-05 season. The new pact also calls for the actor to direct two episodes of the show. read more

BUSTED

A Los Angeles shutterbug who took topless pics of Cameron Diaz before she became a big star was charged Wednesday with trying to extort $3.3 million from the actress. John Rutter is accused of forging Diaz's name on the release; he faces up to six years behind bars if convicted. Does this mean we can't see the nudie pics? read more

FEELING CLAUSTROPHOBIC

HBO is divorcing itself from Marriage, Steven Bochco's much-talked-about upcoming drama series set almost entirely in the bedroom of one couple's New York City apartment. After viewing the pilot, the network "had serious reservations about whether it could be sustained as a series," an HBO rep tells Variety. Bochco, meanwhile, is developing a new cop drama for ABC — a possible successor to NYPD Blue, which is entering its 11th (and possibly final) season this fall. read more

Brat Packer Moves to Poland


How do you know when you've grown up? A member of the '80s Brat Pack with whom you went through adolescence is... is... Heaven help us, she's playing a mom! But Mare Winningham, the plain Jane of St. Elmo's Fire, doesn't seem fazed in the least that she's now too mature for girly roles. Says the female lead of David E. Kelley's fall entry, The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.: "I've got three sons of my own that are just within two years apart... and I raised them in a small town."

However, the concept of the CBS drama (which debuts Sept. 24 at 10 pm/ET) didn't resonate with the sometime folk singer only as a wife — she plays Randy Quaid's unhappy better half — an read more

DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE

In sort-of-related news, production on Roseanne Barr's upcoming ABC Family series Domestic Goddess is being pushed back so the show's star can undergo a hysterectomy next week. The development of Goddess serves as the basis for the current ABC reality series The Real Roseanne Show, which was D.O.A. last week. read more

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