Today's News: Our Take


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

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

RISKY MOVE

A handful of brave war correspondents, including National Geographic's Peter Arnett and CNN's Nic Robertson and Rym Brahini, have opted to remain in Baghdad despite the impending war. NBC and ABC, meanwhile, have pulled their teams out of the Iraqi capitol. 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

South Park Disses Reality TV

What do three of pop culture's harshest critics think about reality TV? We'll find out tonight, when South Park co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone collaborate with All in the Family mastermind Norman Lear on the show's seventh season premiere (airing 10 pm/ET on Comedy Central). In the episode, the boys — including Kenny, who's officially back from the dead — discover Earth is nothing more than a reality TV show produced for, and by, aliens. We hear Lear's not exactly a big fan of reality TV, but what about Parker and Stone?

TV Guide Online: When you both were on Jimmy Kimmel Live last week, Are You Hot' read more

STEPPING DOWN

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

Slay What?! Joss Whedon on Life After Buffy

With the clock ticking until Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar tapes her final appearance as the Chosen One, series creator Joss Whedon is running short on time. Not only does the Hollywood wunderkind have to outline the cult hit's last three episodes, but he also must consider his spinoff options, mull over possible feature projects and, in his free moments, play house with wife Kai Cole and their 4-month-old son. Yet, somehow, he manages to spare a few minutes for TV Guide Online.

TV Guide Online: Now that you've had some time for reality to sink in, how do you feel about Sarah's decision to leave?
Joss Whedon:
Like it's time. It's a decision I support and respect and, in fact, imitate. It's been seven years — read more

Mac Won't Attack Fired Exec


Bernie Mac is breaking his silence about the recent firing of his sitcom's creator and executive producer Larry Wilmore. But the comedian is not about to make enemies on either side of the skirmish, so he places blame on both Fox and the Emmy-winning scribe.

"You know networks," shrugs Mac. "[Similar backstage] battles have been going on for a long time. [But] the situation with Larry was something that he chose to do, too." In a nutshell, Fox allegedly blames the exec for the show's less-than-stellar ratings in its second year, while Wilmore made no secret about his frustration with Fox's creative restrictions. (For more on the tensions, click here.)

"Larry was an instrumental part of the Bernie Mac Show," adds Mac, who confirms that two of the show's writers, Warren Hutcherson read more

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