Today's News: Our Take


WILL KATIE APPROVE?

The Today show has turned to its morning rival for leadership. NBC News has named former Good Morning America producer Tom Touchet exec producer of Today. He replaces Jonathan Wald, who was let go last month. read more

BYE BYE BIRDIE

The WB has reportedly grounded Birds of Prey for good. Sources say the network axed the superhero drama on Monday due to low ratings. In related news, the WB has snatched Grounded for Life away from Fox. The series will move to the Frog Network in March as a Friday night companion to Reba. read more

THE ALAMO WAY

Dennis Quaid has been cast as Sam Houston in Disney's upcoming adventure The Alamo. The project — which also features Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett — will reunite Quaid with his Rookie director John Lee Hancock. The film begins shooting in January. read more

REUNITED!

A Los Angeles judge has agreed to let Paula Poundstone regain custody of her three adopted children, who have been living in foster homes since the comic was arrested on child-endangerment charges 17 months ago. However, her lawyer — citing mountains of legal red tape — says it may be weeks before the reunion takes place. read more

LISTEN UP, HOTTIES

The producers who brought you The Bachelor are developing a new reality show for ABC that will attempt to find the sexiest male and female in America. According to Variety, the series — titled Are You Hot? — will be similar to Fox's American Idol, complete with a nationwide "talent" search and mean-spirited judges like Simon Cowell. Viewers, of course, will crown the ultimate king and queen of hotness. read more

STRESSED OUT

Russell Crowe is taking a chill pill. Just days after reportedly being involved in a London restaurant brawl, the Oscar champ says that he has been under a "massive level of stress" and is heading back to Australia to be with his father and girlfriend. What's more, he announced that his band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, were canceling their upcoming U.S. tour. In a message posted on the group's website, Crowe cited his father's upcoming surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome as a factor in his decision to return home. read more

SHORT CUTS

Thursday's episode of CBS's missing-persons drama Without A Trace will end with a public service announcement about missing Utah girl Elizabeth Smart... Liza Minnelli and hubby David Gest will discuss the controversy surrounding the cancellation of their VH1 reality series on CNN's Larry King Live tomorrow (9 pm/ET). read more

HOLLYWOOD MOURNS

Oscar-winning tough-guy James Coburn, best known for his roles in such 1960s action flicks as The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape, died Monday at the age of 74. According to reports, Coburn suffered a major heart attack at his Beverly Hills, Calif., home while listening to music with his wife Paula. The actor won an Academy Award for playing Nick Nolte's abusive, alcoholic father in 1998's Affliction. More recently, he provided the voice of corrupt CEO Henry J. Waternoose III in Monsters Inc. read more

MUSIC KUDOS

Nominees for the American Music Awards came out Tuesday, with hip hop's usual suspects grabbing up the glory. Glamour girl Ashanti got five noms, including best female artist. On the boys' side, Eminem and Nelly each took four, including nods for favorite male artist. The Osbournes will host ABC's three-hour kudocast, airing Jan. 13. read more

IN OTHER REALITY NEWS...

Um, are we mistaken or didn't they already do The Real World: Hawaii? With its new series North Shore — debuting Summer 2003 — the WB joins in reality TV's obsession with shared living quarters in exotic locations. The sitch: Seven surfing champions will bunk together — it's coed, natch — in an Oahu, Hawaii, beach house while competing to win the $750,000 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Cowabunga! read more

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