Today's News: Our Take


NEW FLIGHT PLAN

Superman has encountered more turbulence. Brett Ratner has dropped out as director allegedly because Warner Bros. failed to approve his choice to play the Man of Steel, Guiding Light hunk Matthew Bomer. "The difficulty of casting the role of Superman has contributed to my decision," says Ratner. "I appreciate the efforts of Warner Bros. and the entire production team during this process." Ratner will now begin work on Rush Hour 3. read more

AND SO IT BEGINS...

The major broadcast networks resumed normal programming Thursday night following a day of nearly wall-to-wall war coverage. Of course, given that everything's in reruns, that's not exactly cause for celebration. read more

IDOL UPDATE

On last night's drawn-out American Idol, 24-year-old grocery store clerk Charles Grigsby became the latest finalist to get the boot. Ten contestants remain, including diva-in-the-making Julia DeMato. (Are we expected to believe those were real tears, sweetie?) My favorite moment? Watching Simon Cowell handily beat Joshua Gracin in a push-up duel. Who knew? read more

WHAT THE HELLMOUTH HAPPENED?

Although the WB interrupted last night's "Orpheus" episode of Angel just minutes before its conclusion to announce that war in Iraq had begun, an advance tape received by TV Guide Online revealed what most of America didn't see. While saying her goodbyes, Willow mistook Fred's invitation to return to L.A. to decode ancient texts with her as a come-on. "I'm seeing somebody!" the lesbian witch finally declared. Following the Sunnydale sweetheart and Slayer Faith's exit, Angel, his soul restored, began rallying the troops. But before he could go all Tony Robbins on the gang, evil Cordelia came downstairs rubbing her belly in a maternity dress by Mae West, and told the champ, "If this is the speech about how the worst is behind us, you might want to save it." read more

SHORT CUTS

Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps (Friday After Next) are in talks to play Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton in Paramount's upcoming feature remake of The Honeymooners... Media bigwig Barry Diller has resigned as co-chief executive of cash-strapped Vivendi Universal Entertainment. What's that? You don't care? I figured as much. read more

OSCAR UPDATE

Will Smith isn't jiggy with attending Sunday's Oscar ceremony while bombs are being dropped on Baghdad. The Ali actor, who was scheduled to be a presenter, has decided to sit this one out as a result of the war in Iraq. "He felt uncomfortable in attending and respectfully asked to be excused," says his rep. "There's no agenda, there's no speeches. He just felt uncomfortable in attending." read more

EVEN MORE OSCAR NEWS

Queen Latifah and a very pregnant Catherine Zeta-Jones will perform a duet from Chicago at Sunday's Academy Awards. They'll sing "I Move On," which is nominated for best original song. Latifah subs for Renée Zellweger, who performed the number with Zeta-Jones in the film but declined to participate in this special Oscar version. (Very smart move.) read more

A LITTLE BIT OF MONICA

Monica Lewinsky is once again following in Bill Clinton's footsteps — only this time it's not into the Oval Office. On the heels of the ex-president's decision to take a job with 60 Minutes, Lewinsky has accepted an offer from Fox to host its upcoming reality show Mr. Personality (debuting April 21). For the lowdown on the show, click here. read more

DIPLOMACY WORKS

It's official: James Gandolfini has resolved his salary dispute with HBO, and the Emmy winner is expected back on the set of The Sopranos early next month to begin work on the show's fifth season. "We are delighted that the great Jim Gandolfini will be back at work in the role he has created with such distinction," HBO chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht said in a statement. According to the New York Times, Gandolfini ended up agreeing to HBO's offer of $11 million a year. He had been making $5 million. read more

ART IMITATES LIFE

Talk show spitfire Kelly Ripa is getting back to her soap roots — but don't get too excited, All My Children fans. The actress has signed on to play a former suds star in the ABC sitcom pilot Hope & Faith. Murphy Brown's Faith Ford will co-star as her sister. The comedy would tape in New York to accommodate Ripa's Live schedule. read more

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