Today's News: Our Take


NOTHING COMPARES TO RETIREMENT

Sinead O'Connor announced on Thursday that she's quitting the music business in July to "pursue a different career." In a message posted on a fansite, the Irish singer says she wants to seek a normal life out of the spotlight. We hear actor-turned-cobbler Daniel Day-Lewis is looking for an assistant. read more

GET YOUR GAME FACE ON

ESPN is developing an American Idol-esque reality series in which aspiring sportscasters will compete for a one-year gig as a SportsCenter anchor. Contestants on Dream Job will compete in four categories: play-by-play, sideline reporting, one-on-one interviews and SportsCenter highlight voice-overs. read more

O.J. UPDATE

O.J. Simpson is denying reports that he will star in his own reality series, although he says he would consider becoming a news commentator during Robert Blake's murder trial. And if that doesn't pan out, he's going to get very angry. read more

STAYING PUT

Comedy Central has inked a new deal with Jon Stewart that will keep the funnyman anchoring The Daily Show through the 2004 presidential election. Ratings for the newscast are up 10 percent over last year. read more

HE'S IN THE MONEY

Who says military pay stinks? Not JAG star David James Elliott, who just signed on for another two seasons of his hit CBS drama in a deal worth a reported $13 million. According to Variety, Elliott will pocket $300,000 per episode under the terms of the new pact, up from $200,000. In the new issue of TV Guide magazine, on sale Monday, CBS president Les Moonves said he was holding off on renewing the Navy saga for an eighth season until Elliot's deal was in place. Not that he ever had any doubts. "You can bet big money it will be back," he said, adding, "With David." read more

PLAY IT AGAIN

Former Johnny Carson sidekick Ed McMahon is reprising his most famous role: that of second banana. In next week's TV Guide magazine, columnist Michael Ausiello — hey, that's me! — reports that Jimmy Kimmel has tapped McMahon to guest-cohost his ABC talk show the week of May 19. read more

SHORT CUTS

Justin Timberlake and actor Seann William Scott (Bulletproof Monk) have been tapped to co-host the MTV Movie Awards, airing June 5... The wife of CBS President Leslie Moonves has filed for divorce after 24 years of marriage. Nancy Moonves cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split... The WB has picked up Grounded for Life for a fourth season... The man who invented the sitcom laugh track, Charlie Douglass, died earlier this month of pneumonia. He was 93. read more

Meet The Gong Show's New Emcee

This is what you call a good week for comedian Jeffrey Ross. Yesterday, he wrapped the pilot for the WB's new Gong Show. "Everywhere I go, my mechanic is a contortionist, and my doorman wants to do his Dustin Hoffman impression," he cracks. "This is what made Chuck Barris move to France!" And tonight, he plays a cocky comic who drops dead on CSI (9 pm/ET): "I've died many times onstage," he says, "but never where I actually had to go head first into the floor." Lucky for us, Ross lived to face another heckler.
TV Guide Online: Gilbert Gottfried and Bobcat Goldthwait also guest star on tonight's CSI. Why were you the most qualified to play the corpse?
Jeffrey Ross:
They didn't have to use makeup for me. (Laughing) To be honest with you, I had nightmares because I played a headliner in Vegas, and they used my real headshot. I kind of saw my own death for the whole week of filming.

TVGO: But lying on a morgue table read more

OUCH!

Growing Pains papa Alan Thicke won't be showing that smile of his again anytime soon. The actor lost five teeth and received 30 stitches after he was struck by a puck while practicing for a celebrity hockey game Tuesday in Burbank, Calif. Alias hunk Michael Vartan was also on the rink at the time, but sources assure us that he's still beautiful. read more

Will Hollywood Hijack a Hairspray Star?


If you've caught the exuberant Broadway adaptation of Hairspray, you'll know what we mean when we say that Kerry Butler damn near steals the show. As heroine Tracy Turnblad's dim-witted but bright-eyed best friend Penny Pingleton, the Brooklyn native pulls no punch lines and turns even secondary stage business into physical comedy of the first order. What's more, Penny's climactic transformation from lovelorn square to lustful "checkerboard chick" takes away theater-goers' breath along with the powerhouse singer's own. So what the heck is the veteran leading lady from Beauty and the Beast and Les Miserables doing in a supporting role?

"I actually prefer being in the ensemble," she tells TV Guide Online. "It makes life easier. When you're the lead, you have to be perfect. With Penny, I can do whatever I want, and [the audience] won't care — unless it's really bad!" The ingenue doesn't even mind that Penny shuffles along with two lef read more

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