Today's News: Our Take


BATTLE FOR VIEWERS

In the war over cable news leadership, Fox News Channel has outdrawn CNN in the ratings during the first five days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Through Monday, Fox has averaged 4 million viewers to CNN's 3.57 million. But don't count CNN out yet: Word has it the network is considering sending Bill Hemmer into the field shirtless. read more

IDOL NEWS

Fox will debut its kiddie version of American Idol, titled Junior Idol, on June 3. The spinoff will air in AI's Tuesday-8 pm timeslot. In related news, Variety reports that American Idol 3 will kick off in January 2004. read more

JUST SHOOT IT

Word has it that NBC has finally put Just Shoot Me out of its misery, although a network maintains that the six-year-old sitcom "has not been canceled." Well, that's regrettable. read more

Oscar's Nagging Questions Answered!


Despite the pall of war hanging in the air, the Academy Awards stuck to the script Sunday night. There were glamorous nominees (Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore), surprise upsets (Roman Polanski, Adrien Brody), self-righteous spectacles (Michael Moore, Michael Moore) and a handful of head-scratching mysteries that demanded solving. So, without further ado, let the sleuthing commence!

Who was presenter read more

RYAN'S HOPE

American Idol pretty boy Ryan Seacrest is in talks with Fox to headline his own syndicated show. Although the program won't be a typical talk show, it will utilize Seacrest's "interviewing talents," according to The Hollywood Reporter. In other words, it will be a typical talk show. read more

NOT SO GOLDEN

Michael Moore is probably breathing a sigh of relief today. Ratings for Sunday's 75th Annual Academy Awards are in, and a record-low number of viewers witnessed the Bowling for Columbine filmmaker's embarrassing on-stage meltdown. According to Nielsen, 33.1 million viewers watched the ABC telecast — a 21 percent decline from last year. Insiders believe viewers were most likely drawn to war coverage on cable. In related news, Focus Features, the studio behind surprise Oscar darling The Pianist, announced Monday that the Holocaust drama will expand to 900 screens nationwide this weekend. Also, NBC and sister network Bravo have snagged small-screen rights to best picture winner Chicago. They can begin airing the film in November 2005. read more

Gladiator Princess Gets Basic Training


Who's that tough lady law enforcer in The Hunted and Basic? There's a reason you'll barely recognize her as the same actress who played Gladiator's tragic Princess Lucilla. Connie Nielsen does her homework!

To turn this 38-year-old Danish beauty into Basic's stiff and stubborn U.S. Army captain Julia Osborne, it took military training, an androgynous uniform and a slight Southern drawl. "Every woman I portray is vastly different from me!" says Nielsen, who co-stars with John Travolta in the whodunit. "[My character] has that Southern belle quality: She's spunky on the one hand, but she's also durable.

"What's hard is to not exaggerate [the accent]," she adds. "It feels so nice and relaxed to ta read more

JUST JACK

An interior designer who claimed Will & Grace based the flamboyantly gay character of Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) on him but failed to give him credit, has settled his lawsuit with one of the show's writers. Jack Deamer claimed that longtime pal and W&G producer Max Mutchnick reneged on a promise to buy him a house and car if the sitcom became a hit. (Yep, that's our Jack.) The amount of the settlement was not disclosed. read more

THIS BITES

The WB has renewed six of its series for next season — but unfortunately, Angel isn't one of them. Charmed, Gilmore Girls, Everwood, Smallville and Reba have been picked up for the 2003-04 season, while Monday-night staple 7th Heaven received a two-year green light. The network is expected to make a decision on Angel, arguably the WB's best show, in May. read more

GONE AND FORGOTTEN

ABC finally came to the conclusion that no one was watching Veritas: The Quest. The network has put the low-rated Monday drama on "hiatus" — which is industry-speak for, "We lost a ton of money on this show." In other scheduling news, ABC will air the final two episodes of Are You Hot? on April 5 from 9-11 pm/ET. In the meantime, Lorenzo Lamas will try and find out where Ana Alicia disappeared to. read more

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