Today's News: Our Take


Actor Leslie Cheung, who played a Chinese opera singer who kills himself in the Oscar-nominated film Farewell My Concubine, committed suicide in Hong Kong on Tuesday. He was 46. Cheung jumped from the 24th floor of a hotel. read more


Hollywood hellraiser Russell Crowe will marry his Aussie sweetheart Danielle Spencer on Monday — his 39th birthday. The couple reportedly are planning a low-key affair, with just 80 close friends and family and not a single A-list star. Which means there's still a chance the cast of Blossom could show up. read more


Miramax is developing a romantic comedy set in the world of competitive Scrabble titled Your Word Against Mine... The WB has ordered six episodes of Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, a reality contest in which real people invent original superhero personas. read more


Alias badass Jennifer Garner and her actor-hubby Scott Foley (A.U.S.A.) have "mutually decided to separate," a rep for the couple confirms. The duo — who met on the Felicity set in 1998 — tied the knot in October 2000. Well, this explains why Garner was escorted to the Oscars last month by best friend Katie Gage and not Foley. At the time, their flak insisted "everything was fine" with the lovebirds. In the publicist's defense, I'm sure she feels really bad about lying to us. Or not. read more


Donald Trump is partnering with Survivor producer Mark Burnett on The Apprentice, a new NBC reality series in which 20 wannabe execs compete for a six-figure job at the Trump Organization. Contestants will be handed a series of assignments, and one under-performing worker will get fired each week by Trump. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that all of the contestants will be young, blonde and female. read more


David Letterman's return to CBS's Late Show Monday after a month-long medical leave was just what the Nielsen doctor ordered. Dave notched his second-best ratings this season and his biggest victory over NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno in three years. ABC, meanwhile, is urging Jimmy Kimmel to go get shingles. read more


Toni Braxton gave birth to a baby boy, Diezel Ky Braxton Lewis, on Sunday in Atlanta. This is the 34-year-old singer's second child with husband Keri Lewis. They also have a 1-year-old son, Denim. In other baby news, rumor has it that Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe are expecting their second child. read more


In related news, Fox News reporter Geraldo Rivera is facing his biggest career crisis since he exited Al Capone's vault with nothing but cheerios and a smurf keychain. The Pentagon has apparently asked Rivera to leave Iraq for broadcasting confidential tactical information. According to USA Today, during a live broadcast over the weekend, Rivera drew a map in the sand indicating the position of the Army's 101st Airborne Division and where it was going. For his part, Rivera blames NBC, his former employer, for stirring up the controversy. read more

Meet Hollywood's New It Guy

Be afraid, David E. Kelley. Be very afraid. Out of Harvard for just five years, playwright Samuel Baum already has two series in the works — and, just for good measure, a feature film, too.

First up for the scribe — a handsome palooka who looks like he ought to be auditioning to play bashful hunks on Aaron Spelling soaps — is the WB's youthful MacGyver update, with Gilmore Girls sweetheart Jared Padalecki as Clay, the nephew of Richard Dean Anderson's character from ABC's 1985-92 hit, and original executive producer Henry Winkler on board once again. "It's been an excruciating writing process for me," Baum tells TV Guid read more

State Star Parodies Condoleezza Rice?

Lynn Whitfield, best known for her sizzling, Emmy-winning performance in The Josephine Baker Story, had a rude awakening when she took on the role of Chris Rock's political adviser in Head of State. As a stern Washington insider, she had to dress matronly and act painfully restrained in the face of Rock's hilarity.

"I believe they saw the character of Debra Lassiter to be rather large and oratorical," the 49-year-old actress tells TV Guide Online. "[But] I saw her as a dominatrix! Politics were her paddle, and she was going to spank everybody into shape, and then they'd be happy. [Rock] didn't want all of my vision, but it got me the gig!"

To her surprise, the part came with an unconventional order from first-time director Rock. "I told the costum read more

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