Today's News: Our Take


DELAYED

The latest casualty of war: Barbara Walters's annual pre-Oscars special. ABC announced today that it was postponing the traditional chatfest as a result of the looming war with Iraq. No decision has been made on what will replace the show, which was to feature interviews with Nicolas Cage, Renée Zellweger and Julianne Moore. In related news... read more

MAMA'S IN LOVE

Bringing Down the House's Queen Latifah is slated to star in and produce Just Wright, a modern-day Cinderella story set in the world of pro basketball. According to Variety, the Oscar nominee will play a physical therapist who falls in love with an injured hoops player. In sort-of related news, the director behind Bringing Down the House, Adam Shankman, is in talks to helm a live-action film based on the 1960s cartoon series The Jetsons. 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

PAY UP

Liza Minnelli's diva hubby David Gest has made yet another enemy. A New York construction company is suing the couple claiming they failed to pay for renovations to their tony Upper East Side love chamber. (Ewww... ) They allegedly owe a balance of $138,000. read more

SPIDEY CRISIS OVER

It's a miracle! Despite reports, Tobey Maguire will not have to bow out of the next Spider-Man flick due to a bum back. According to USA Today, the 27-year-old actor — who did injure his back while shooting the upcoming horse-racing saga Seabiscuit — is all set to reprise his role as the web-slingin' superhero in The Amazing Spider-Man. 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

CRASH COURSE

Dire Straits singer Mark Knopfler is in bad shape indeed. A motorcycle accident has left the 53-year-old with six cracked ribs and a broken collarbone. Unfortunately, he'll have to miss performing with Eric Clapton this Sunday in a charity benefit at London's famed Albert Hall. 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

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

SHORT CUTS

Helen Mirren will reprise her role as sleuth Jane Tennison in a new two-part episode of PBS's popular British mystery series Prime Suspect... In the wake of actress Lynne Thigpen's sudden death, producers of CBS's The District are considering having her character die in a car accident, the New York Daily News reports. read more

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