Today's News: Our Take


Marilyn Manson's new CD The Golden Age of Grotesque debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's album chart with 118,000 copies sold. 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' slipped to No. 2 with 107,000 copies. read more


The 2002-03 TV season came to a close Wednesday night and CBS crossed the finish line as the most-watched network. NBC came in second, followed by ABC, Fox, the WB and UPN. Among adults 18-49, NBC was once again tops, but Fox — fueled by reality phenoms Joe Millionaire and American Idol — ranked a strong No. 2. CSI, meanwhile, replaced Friends as the country's most popular show. read more


Hollywood heavyweights Bryan Singer (X-Men) and Dean Devlin (Independence Day) are teaming up to produce an eight-hour mini-series about the Bermuda Triangle for the Sci Fi Channel. "It will involve people who've gone through a number of different experiences with the Bermuda Triangle," Devlin tells Variety, "who come together and decide to confront the mystery." read more


The country embraced American Idol's velvet teddy bear last night. In an extremely close vote, Ruben Studdard defeated reformed geek Clay Aiken to win the second Idol championship. Roughly 130,000 votes (of a record 24 million) separated the two in the final count. (Host Ryan Seacrest initially said the split was 1,335, but Fox later corrected that.) Studdard's new single "Flying Without Wings" — which he performed for the first time Tuesday night — will be released June 10. Nielsen, meanwhile, estimates that an average 33.7 million viewers watched the two-hour climax, giving Fox its best Wednesday ratings in history. For the lowdown on last night's grand finale, click here. read more


Warner Bros. has tapped Tim Burton to direct its long-gestating remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston will produce the pic under their newly formed partnership with Brad Grey (The Sopranos). read more


The Matrix Reloaded continues on its record-setting pace. As of today, the mega-sequel has taken in $151.9 million — the biggest first-week tally in box office history. That breaks the record set last summer by Spider-Man, which grossed $151.6 million in its first full week. read more

Meet Niles's New Flame

Good morning kisses from Ewan McGregor and sisterly advice from Renée Zellweger. After facing her initial fear of a visit from the "acting police," you could say filming the over-the-top, '60s sex romp Down with Love was easy for Sarah Paulson.

But landing her role — a book editor whose latest find (Zellweger) encourages women to behave like men — definitely wasn't. Because the movie was shot during summer months, when sitcom actors are on hiatus, entire casts of TV shows went in to read for her part. "Anybody that's on any popular show was there," Paulson says. "It just seemed like the most implausible notion that I would get this job, because the list of names was ridiculous."

And then there's read more


It looks like time finally ran out for President Palmer. On last night's riveting 24 finale, one of the evildoers behind last season's assasination attempt against Dennis Haysbert's commander-in-chief resurfaced during the final moments to finish the job. Shortly after Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) successfully averted World War III, Palmer became the victim of a (seemingly lethal) bioterrorist sneak attack. (Let's hope his final act as president will be to give Jack's demon-spawn daughter a big wet kiss.) The kicker climax apparently sets it up so Season Three will cover the day after this season's — in other words, 48 consecutive hours. That's gonna really suck for Jack. For Matt Roush's take on the episode, click here. read more

Michael Douglas: Family Man

With The In-Laws (opening Friday), Michael Douglas takes a break from serious fare like A Perfect Murder and Traffic to yuk it up with Albert Brooks. Doing this movie, as well as It Runs in the Family with dad Kirk Douglas, suggests he not only wants to show off his sense of humor, but also his more family-oriented side.

"[Brooks and I] both talked about it and said, 'Thank God we have families,'" admits Douglas, 58. "I don't know what anyone would do as an actor our age, who is out on his own or divorced. It would be depressing if you were to focus only on your career. So you work on things, but the big change in my life is having a wife [ read more


Everybody Loves Raymond ended its season on a high note. Monday's wedding-themed season finale attracted nearly 23 million viewers, making it the night's top-rated program. NBC also got solid results from its Martha Stewart telepic, which averaged 14 million viewers and ranked as the season's No. 1 TV movie among adults 18-49. And believe it or not, some 17 million Clay/Ruben fans sat through Monday's dull American Idol profile special. read more

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