Today's News: Our Take


SOUL MAN

Is Justin Timberlake the new face of R&B? Judging by Monday's Soul Train Music Award nominations, the answer seems to be yes. The 'N Sync hunk nabbed a surprising two nods — the only white performer to get recognized. Soul divas Ashanti and Amerie led the field with three nominations apiece. Winners will be announced March 1. read more

Providence: The Feature Film


Analyze That may have flopped at the box office, but Hollywood isn't saying fughedaboudit when it comes to big-screen comedies involving the mafia. This week, Alec Baldwin and Matthew Broderick begin shooting Providence, a fact-based film about the FBI's failed 1987 attempt to infiltrate the mob by producing a motion picture.

"The FBI got it in their head that they could nail mobsters in Rhode Island by making a movie," explains Jeff Nathanson, who penned the script and will make his directorial debut with the pic. "They plucked this struggling writer-director out of Hollywood and took him to New England. They hoped to [broker] deals between mobsters and the teamsters read more

ANOTHER SPIN

Spin City alum Michael J. Fox is getting back in business with ABC — but just behind the scenes. The network has picked up the comedy pilot Hench at Home, which Fox wrote and will executive produce. The semi-autobiographical project focuses on a pro hockey player who spends more time with his family after he is forced to retire. Fox left Spin City in 2000 after announcing that he has Parkinson's disease. read more

FAREWELL

John Houston, the father of Whitney Houston, died Sunday at Manhattan's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital after a long struggle with diabetes and heart disease. He was 82. Despite being in the middle of a $100 million breach-of-contract battle with her dad, Whitney reportedly flew to New York on Sunday to be by his side. read more

Twenty Nagging Questions About 24

After a two-week-long American Idol-induced hiatus, 24 ticks off this evening with the first of five original episodes. When we last clocked in with Fox's serial thriller, bomb sniffer Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) was closing in on terrorist mastermind Syed Ali (Francesco Quinn), President Palmer's estranged wife Sherry (Penny Johnson Jerald) was revealed to be the mole inside the White House, and whitebread bride-to-be Marie Warner (Laura Harris) shot and killed her fianc&#233, Reza (Phillip Rhys). While we would never welcome time off from 24, the break did give us an opportunity to catch our breath — and ponder some of the show's unsolved mys read more

TRUE CONFESSIONS

The much-talked-about British documentary on Michael Jackson — airing Thursday on ABC as part of a special two-hour 20/20 — is apparently going to live up to all the hype. Among the revelations Jacko reportedly makes: He once slept in the same bed as Macaulay Culkin and his brother Kieran; his terrace-dangled infant son, Prince Michael II, was conceived by a surrogate mother whom he had never met; and he underwent two operations on his nose because "it helped me breathe better so I can hit higher notes." His best quote from the documentary? That's easy: "If there were no children on this Earth, if someone announced all kids were dead, I would jump off the balcony immediately." read more

LOWE AND BEHOLD

The West Wing has elected to dismiss Rob Lowe sooner than first thought, TV Guide Online has learned. The actor's final appearance on NBC's White House drama — initially slated for March — will now air during the Feb. 26 episode, a show rep confirms. In a recent interview with TV Guide Online, exec producer Aaron Sorkin said he was holding off on writing Lowe's swan song because, "I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that [he'll stay]. I say it out loud every day: 'Please, I want Rob to stay on the show!'" There seems little chance of that at this point. Lowe recently inked a deal with the Peacock network to headline a new legal drama next season. What's more, Lowe's WW alter ego, Sam Seaborn, recently left his post as communications dire read more

BUSTED

Bachelorette babe Trista Rehn may be a better judge of character than we gave her credit for. Greg Todtman, the contestant Rehn gave the boot to last week, was arrested Friday at New York's JFK airport and charged with trying to smuggle cocaine onto a plane. Todtman, however, claims he was actually carrying a pill that he did not have a prescription for. He's still a better suitor than Russ. read more

IF THE SLIPPER FITS...

Speaking of hot-tempered divas, Oscar winner Russell Crowe will reunite with his Beautiful Mind director Ron Howard for the period boxing drama Cinderella Man, Variety reports. Crowe will portray Depression-era fighter and folk hero Jim Braddock, who defeated heavyweight champ Max Baer in a 15-round slugfest in 1935. read more

AXED

Here's proof that all bad things must come to an end: Long-running talker Jenny Jones will call it quits in May after 12 years on the air. read more

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