Today's News: Our Take


THE NEXT PHANTOM?

Jerry Springer: The Opera, which first gained fame at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival, is headed to London's National Theater next year as a full-scale production. The musical — which features such showstoppers as a Ku Klux Klan dance routine and a diaper fetishist confessing all to his true love — opens in April. read more

GOOD NEWS, MRS. DALLOWAY

The National Board of Review officially kicked off the annual Oscar derby Wednesday by naming The Hours the best film of 2002. The pic, based on Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, stars Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore. Best actor kudos went to Campbell Scott for Roger Dodger and Moore was chosen best actress for Far From Heaven. read more

DR. MELFI'S AVAILABLE

Convicted shoplifter Winona Ryder needs to see a shrink — at least that's what prosecutors are recommending in advance of the actress's sentencing Friday. In a memo released Tuesday, District Attorney Ann Rundle said Ryder should undergo drug counseling because at the time of her arrest last year, she possessed eight different prescription painkillers. Rundle also recommended Ryder do community service and pay $26,000 in fines. read more

BRACE YOURSELF OASIS FANS

Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher must undergo surgery on his front teeth following a weekend brawl in Munich. As a result, the group was forced to reschedule two remaining concerts in Germany. In other recovery news, actress Zsa Zsa Gabor — injured in a car crash last week — has been upgraded to fair condition. read more

LADY SINGS THE BLUES

As those many ABC promos have hinted, Whitney Houston spills her guts to Diane Sawyer on tonight's Primetime (airing at 9 pm/ET). Here's a preview: When Sawyer asks whether it's been alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, pills or "all" of 'em that trouble her, Houston responds: "It has been at times." The singer goes on to suggest she's been "addicted to a few things" — including "making love." Yikes! Houston also denies talk of anorexia and bulimia, and says prayer has been helping her. Hubby Bobby Brown also appears to say, "Me and drugs... we're not friends." Now there's a surprise. read more

IT'S BETTER THAN A RAZZIE

Richard Gere has been selected to receive the 2002 Foot in Mouth award from Britain's Plain English Campaign for comparing himself to a giraffe in a newspaper interview. "I know who I am. No one else knows who I am. If I was a giraffe, and someone said I was a snake, I'd think, no, actually I'm a giraffe," he told Britain's Guardian newspaper in June. read more

Shield Star's Close Encounter


Catherine Dent rarely gets recognized for her role as tough cop Danielle Sofer on FX's hit drama series The Shield — a fact that hardly surprises the stunning Louisiana native. "People tell me all the time, 'You're so much prettier in real life,'" she tells TV Guide Online with a chuckle. "[That's because] I have no makeup and the lighting sucks on [The Shield]. It's this gritty, raw reality."

Sadly, Dent's latest project, the Sci Fi Channel miniseries Taken (airing weeknights at 9 pm/ET through Dec. 13), also does little to show off her best assets. In the 10-part drama, her alter ego — a lonely Texan who falls in love with an alien — dons rather plain 1940s frocks. Despite the vanity issues, the actress couldn't be prouder of her groundbreaking cable gigs.

"I think that cable is really lifting the bar for everybo read more

LAW AND DISORDER

Baby-dangler Michael Jackson turned up in a California courtroom today to resume testifying in a $21 million lawsuit over canceled millennium concerts. Instead of a nose bandage, the freaky singer arrived this time sporting a pair of crutches. Apparently, he was bitten by a spider. "It is real bad," he told reporters. "If I showed it to you, you'd be shocked. It hurts very much." Not as much as a five-story fall, of course. read more

Sigourney Weaver Introduces The Guys


After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many showbiz folks sought to contribute to relief efforts. As a native New Yorker, Sigourney Weaver was no different. Thus, she decided to team with The Flea — her husband Jim Simpson's theater company — to put on an inspirational play written specifically in reaction to the tragedy. Shortly over a year later, The Guys has been adapted into a film (opening Dec. 13). Weaver's clearly proud of her part in its journey.

"I think part of the play is about how marginal a lot of New Yorkers felt because we didn't have the skills to actually go and help out at Ground Zero," she relates. "I felt immensely grateful, and still do, that I was able to bring what I do to a project about what happened."

In The Guys, Weaver reprises her s read more

JUST A LITTLE SORE

CNN American Morning host Paula Zahn remains hospitalized following a weekend skiing accident that left her with a broken leg and knee. Daryn Kagan will fill in for Zahn until she's ready to return. read more

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