Today's News: Our Take


THE HEAT IS ON

With CBS closing the ratings gap with once-dominant NBC on Thursday night, NBC has yanked this week's scheduled ER repeat in favor of a rerun of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Variety speculates that the network made the switch because it wanted to avoid "the embarrassing possibility" of CBS's Without A Trace — which airs an original episode Thursday — beating ER in the ratings. Interestingly, CBS is holding a last-minute telephone press conference today with Trace leading man Anthony LaPaglia to hype Thursday's episode. Coincidence? We think not. read more

THORNY ISSUES

As expected, Rosie O'Donnell struck back at the publishers of her defunct magazine on Monday. The former talk-show host filed a $125 million breach of contract counter-suit against Gruner+Jahr, claiming the company "launched a campaign to disparage" her and "usurp her editorial control." Rosie's December issue will be its last. read more

SEVEN IS ENOUGH

You can forget that rumored eighth Harry Potter novel. A rep for J.K. Rowling shot down speculation that the British author plans to extend the best-selling book series to include an eighth edition. "The plan is to have only seven books," the spokesman told Reuters on Monday. "There is no truth in the rumors." read more

GO WEST YOUNG MAN

This may be just the boost The West Wing needs: Christian Slater is joining NBC's White House drama for a multi-episode arc playing a submarine commander, Access Hollywood reports. read more

MORE BAD THINGS

The Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement division has informed Martha Stewart that it plans to recommend filing securities fraud charges against her over her controversial sale of ImClone stock. If convicted, the domestic diva would face a hefty fine, and could be forced out as chairman and chief executive of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. read more

BUSTED

A personal assistant to Kid Rock was arrested on drug charges Sunday after the singer's tour bus was stopped by police in Florida. Kevin McMahon allegedly was in possession of cocaine and marijuana. And in case you were wondering, Kid was not on board at the time. read more

TIRED OF COOLING IT NOW

Pioneering '80s R&B quintet New Edition ("Candy Girl," "Mr. Telephone Man") are reuniting on Sean "P. Diddy" Combs's Bad Boy record label. The group, sans Bobby Brown, plans to release a new album next spring, their first since 1996's Home Again. read more

OH GOD, BOOK FOUR?

Here's an offer Paramount shouldn't refuse: Random House has given the film studio first crack at screen rights to a new installment of The Godfather franchise. According to Variety, the publishing house is attempting to draft a writer to continue the Corleone saga. But first, execs must broker a rights deal with the estate of late Godfather author Mario Puzo. "We hope Paramount or some other studio will want to buy the movie rights, and it is our intention to see that happen," said Random House exec Jonathan Karp. "These characters just keep pulling you back in." read more

STAY BACK!

Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg has filed a restraining order against a woman who allegedly stalked the director and claimed he implanted a mind-control device in her brain. According to People.com, a Los Angeles judge last week granted Spielberg's request against Diana Louisa Napolis, who Spielberg's camp believes suffers from a delusional disorder and poses "a serious risk of violent confrontation" with the filmmaker. Sounds like she saw A.I. one too many times. read more

MERRY CHRISTMAS, GOOD-BYE

As if poor Rhode Island doesn't get enough abuse, NBC has axed its feel-good Friday night drama Providence after five seasons. The culprit? Declining ratings. A two-hour series finale will air on Dec. 20. Naturally, the network describes the show's swan song as "a touching, heartwarming send-off for the entire Hansen family." In other Peacock news, NBC has picked up Sunday night newcomers American Dreams and Boomtown for a full season. read more

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