Today's News: Our Take


MORE IDOL

The show may be over, but the American Idol phenomenon will continue well into the fall. Kelly Clarkson's debut album will be released Nov. 26; a compilation release of the 10 Idol finalists is due in stores on Oct. 1; the original 30 Idol semifinalists will reunite onstage in Las Vegas for a two-hour Fox special to air Sept. 23; and a 28-city tour for the 10 finalists starts Oct. 8 in San Diego. American Idol 2, meanwhile, will premiere in February 2003. read more

HOME SWEET HOME

This is going to make Eminem really cranky: The short-fused rapper has been knocked off the top of the album charts by three girls! Home, the new CD from country trio the Dixie Chicks, debuted at No. 1, selling nearly 780,000 copies. The Eminem Show fell to No. 2. read more

FRANCESCA'S IN MOURNING

A fire Tuesday destroyed the famous covered bridge that served as the setting for Robert Waller's best-selling novel The Bridges of Madison County. The Cedar Bridge, located in central Iowa, was built in 1883 and was only one of six covered spans in the U.S. still open to vehicular traffic. read more

CONSOLATION PRIZE

Lance Bass may not be going into space, but rocker-turned-outdoorsman Ted Nugent is offering the 'N Sync singer the next best thing. According to The Associated Press, for a measly $1 million, Nugent has invited Bass to join him on a weeklong hunt at his Michigan ranch, "where he'll be taught a greater appreciation for nature and gravity as he hunts, kills, cleans and cooks for himself... Bass needs to quit worrying about going into outer space and embrace and celebrate life by learning how to kill his own food. A slab of flesh on the back of a deer is the finest source of protein on the planet." Nugent says he'll even throw in a "few guitar lessons." read more

HER BIG FOLLOW-UP

My Big Fat Greek Wedding's break-out star Nia Vardalos will next star in a female buddy comedy for Disney titled Connie and Carla Do L.A. Vardalos, who also penned the script, reportedly will make seven figures. No word on who will co-star. read more

AND BABY MAKES FIVE

Kelly Ripa is expecting her third child with hubby Mark Consuelos in February. The soap star-turned-talk-show spitfire made the announcement on Wednesday's Live with Regis and Kelly. read more

EVEN MORE IDOL

As expected, ratings for Wednesday's two-hour American Idol finale were big — Justin's hair big. The swan song attracted a series high 22.5 million viewers — the show's largest audience ever. read more

WITH ALL DUE R-E-S-P-E-C-T

We hate to say we told you so, but doggone it, we did tell you so. On last night's first-season finale of American Idol, the search for a superstar ended with Kelly Clarkson being awarded a recording contract worth a cool $1 million. Don't feel too bad for runner-up Justin Guarini, though: As the ostensible loser, the lucky stiff won't have to fill his first CD single with "A Moment Like This," the lachrymose power ballad that the show commissioned to ensure the victor's chart success. Um, is it too late to tack on Clarkson's ballsy cover of Aretha Franklin's "Respect"? Pretty please? Clarkson's single is due Sept. 17. read more

Kelly Headed for a Landslide Victory?


If those popularity polls are any indication, Texas cocktail waitress Kelly Clarkson is the odds-on favorite to win American Idol tonight (live 8-10 pm/ET on Fox). But as host Ryan Seacrest points out, don't underestimate Justin Guarini's core fan base.

"You have a lot of teenage girls who watch the TV show but probably don't participate in those online and newspaper polls," he tells TV Guide Online. "And like we've seen in the past with Tamyra [Gray], anything can happen."

That's a sentiment shared by Judge Dread Simon Cowell. Although the acid-tongued critic confesses he's personally rooting for Clarkson, he says that her victory is hardly a foregone conclusion. "You've got to remember, every week someone's voted out — so all of those votes have to go to somebody else," he notes. "Also, in this competition, you're judged by [your performance that] night. Anything can happe read more

Witchblade Cutie Laughs in the Face of Fear


After making a killing in blockbusters, A-listers such as Brad Pitt and Renée Zellweger tend to go pale whenever their old slasher flicks turn up on cable. Yet, no matter how successful John Hensley becomes, the Witchblade co-star isn't likely to scream bloody murder over a broadcast of his indie gorefest, Campfire Stories (which bypassed the multiplex and recently went straight to video).

"I did it right after the pilot for [ABC's ill-fated 2000 Gabriel Byrne sitcom] Madigan Men," the 25-year-old tells TV Guide Online. "It was described to me as being just as comical as it is gruesome, and the idea of getting splattered and all that sounded read more

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