Today's News: Our Take


Here's the best news to hit Broadway in years: The simply awful Michael Crawford musical Dance of the Vampires will close Jan. 25 after just 56 performances. Good riddance! In other theater news, Tony winner Heather Headley (Aida) is engaged to former New York Jet Brian Musso. read more


Chicago star Queen Latifah pleaded no contest Tuesday to misdemeanor reckless driving to avoid facing trial on two charges of DUI stemming from her November arrest in Los Angeles. The rapper-turned-actress was sentenced to three years' informal probation and ordered to pay $300 in fines. She also must participate in a 12-hour alcohol education program. read more


Nicole Kidman's streak of great film roles continues. The Hours star is in talks to play "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss in Pay the Girl, an upcoming movie chronicling her life story, Variety reports. "This should be like Pretty Woman, but with the visual energy and excess of Scarface," says Fleiss, who sold the rights to her story to Paramount, where the film is being produced. "All of the madam movies have been like B-level porn or they've been boring. The world I was living in was not boring." There's no word if Charlie Sheen will make a cameo. read more


Harry Potter fanatics can simmer down now! Bloomsbury Publishing announced today that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the long-awaited fifth book in the boy wizard series, is due in stores on June 21. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is absolutely superb and will delight all J.K. Rowling's fans," raved Bloomsbury chief Nigel Newton. "She has written a brilliant and utterly compelling new adventure." The book includes 38 chapters and 255,000 words — a third longer than the last book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. read more


New reality fare dominated the ratings race last week, with Fox's Joe Millionaire and ABC's The Bachelorette finishing No. 7 and No. 10 respectively. CBS's revival of Star Search also performed well, ranking No. 24 on Wednesday and No. 25 on Thursday. Overall, the Eye Network — buoyed by another first-place finish from CSI — won the week with an average 12.7 million viewers. NBC was a distant second, followed by ABC and Fox. read more


Estranged lovebirds Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson have settled their bitter custody dispute involving sons Brandon, 6, and Dylan, 4. Terms of the agreement were not made public, but Anderson's attorney said it "contains everything you could possibly think of about how to raise the children and where they will live." Geez, could you be more vague? read more


7th Heaven is looking to score a perfect 10 with viewers this February. TV Guide Online has learned that Bo Derek will guest star on a Valentine's Day episode airing Feb. 10 playing the mother of Kevin and Ben (George and Geoff Stults). Meanwhile, series regular Jeremy London will get a visit from his twin brother Jason in the Feb. 3 episode. It's the first time the siblings will appear side-by-side on TV. read more


Attention husband hunters! ABC's third Bachelor installment kicks off March 26 — and the show's latest lady-killer will be "the son of one of America's most affluent and prominent families." (Hopefully, he's an actual catch, not just another Joe Millionaire dude.) Meanwhile, on the blue-collar front, look for Tim Allen Presents a User's Guide to Home Improvement sometime this Spring. Basically, Tim Allen shows fave clips and bloopers from his 1991-1999 hit, then does Q&#038A with a live audience. read more


Diana Ross's most hotly anticipated on-camera performance in decades debuts this Friday. Despite protests from Ross's attorneys, a judge on Tuesday ordered the release of a police videotape shot during the 58-year-old singer's Dec. 30 DUI arrest. However, when the tape comes out Friday, it will be sans audio. The video was shot while police questioned Ross and gave her a field sobriety test. read more


ABC has announced the lineup for its upcoming Survivor-esque reality series I'm a Celebrity — Get Me Out of Here!, and it's a pretty scary group! The C-list castaways include: model Tyson Beckford, "Downtown" Julie Brown, Olympic champ Bruce Jenner, Robin Leach, Melissa Rivers, actress Alana Stewart and Howard Stern's infamous sidekick, Stuttering John. An eighth cast member will be announced at a later date, which probably means producers are still trying to coax Andrew Shue out of retirement. The show, which will be set Down Under, will air live over 15 consecutive nights next month. read more

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