Today's News: Our Take


NO LAUGHING MATTER

Friends star Matthew Perry is getting serious about his film career. The actor has been cast opposite Robin Tunney in the big-screen relationship drama Fever. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the indie centers around a couple "who are shocked out of the predictability of their relationship by an event that challenges them to either love more deeply or lose each other for good." Sounds like they lost the remote. read more

IS HE MAD?

Mel Gibson will pocket a cool $25 million to reprise his role as post-apocalyptic lawman-turned-outlaw Max Rockatansky in a fourth Mad Max film, Variety reports. Titled Fury Road, the $104 million project will start shooting in Australia next May. Incidentally, the first three flicks — 1979's Mad Max, 1981's Mad Max: The Road Warrior and 1985's Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome — grossed only $69 million domestically. We're going to go out on a limb and predict that the latest sequel will make more than that in its opening weekend. In other Hollywood casting news, Tom Hanks has signed on to star in the Coen Brothers' upcoming remake of the 1955 black comedy The Ladykillers. read more

MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR

A group of 100 entertainers, including Kim Basinger, Matt Damon, Ethan Hawke, Samuel L. Jackson and Jessica Lange, are banding together to protest a possible war with Iraq. At a press conference today, the celebs — who are calling themselves Artists United To Win Without War — will unveil a letter to President Bush urging him to avoid war. read more

Question: When and for how ...

Question: When and for how long was Sherry Stringfield on NYPD Blue?

Televisionary: ER's Stringfield played attorney Laura Kelly, estranged wife of Det. John Kelly (David Caruso) for the ABC drama's first season (1993-94) before her character was written out of the show.

read more

WHO CAN'T HEAR?

After 40 years of noisy guitar riffs, rock legend Pete Townshend (The Who) says he's nearly deaf. "The recent return to touring and to me playing electric guitar — albeit more quietly than in the 1970s — led to further deterioration of my hearing," the 57-year-old told London's Sun tabloid. "My right ear, which encounters my own edgy guitar and the machine gun strokes of the drums, has suffered badly. I've no idea what I can do about this." Well, I'm no doctor, but maybe he should give the ax a rest? read more

CYBER PEEPERS MUST PAY

Pamela Anderson and ex-hubby Tommy Lee have won their lawsuit against Internet Entertainment Group — the company that marketed their infamous "honeymoon" sex tape in the late '90s. A default judgement forces IEG to pay the duo legal fees, plus the profits it made from selling their sexcapades, which amounts to about $740,000 each. Last year, the Baywatch bombshell settled a similar lawsuit with IEG over her saucy home video with ex-beau Bret Michaels of Poison. Note to Pam: Give your camcorder a rest, hon. read more

MUSIC KUDOS

R&B newcomer Ashanti was the big winner at last night's Billboard Music Awards, scoring eight trophies including top female artist, R&B/hip-hop artist and female R&B/hip-hop artist. Nelly grabbed six awards (including 2002's top artist) and the album of the year went to Eminem for The Eminem Show. Steven Tyler presented Cher with an achievement award, and comedian Chris Tucker gave a special "Thriller" award to Michael Jackson, who accepted the honor via satellite and then dropped it from a fifth floor balcony. (Just kidding.) read more

LOOK OUT, ROSS

Film actor Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend's Wedding) has signed on to do three episodes of Friends playing an office rival of Rachel's (Jennifer Aniston). His first episode airs in January. Dick Van Dyke, meanwhile, will appear in the Jan. 23 episode of Scrubs as a long-time friend of Dr. Kelso's (Ken Jenkins). read more

Question: Didn't Fox attempt ...

Question: Didn't Fox attempt to do a Get Smart sequel series sometime back in 1995? — John S., Washington, D.C.

Televisionary: That they did, with the emphasis on the word "attempt." And what a lame effort it was.

With C.O.N.T.R.O.L. agents Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) and 99 (Barbara Feldon) off active duty — Max was the new chief and 99 was a member of congress — their son Zach (Andy Dick) was the one out there mining spy games for laughs. (Elaine Hendrix, as Agent 66, stepped into Feldon's old straight-woman role.)

But the pair didn't strike too many giggles. Dick wa read more

PR NIGHTMARE

Add Natalie Cole to the list of people who think Whitney Houston made a mistake going toe-to-toe with Diane Sawyer on Primetime last week. "I think the timing was crappy," Cole told Access Hollywood. "The questions were extremely difficult, very invasive, and it's just too hard to do that. I don't even know, as a totally sober person of 20 years, if I would even like answering those questions." read more

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