Today's News: Our Take


Cameron Diaz: Klepto in the Making?


In Martin Scorsese's hotly anticipated epic film Gangs of New York (opening Dec. 20), Cameron Diaz plays a feisty pickpocket who steals Leonardo DiCaprio's heart. It's a profession the actress admits she grew quite fond of over the course of the movie's shoot. "I can see how it would be fun, because every pocket and every victim is a challenge," she tells TV Guide Online. "I don't see how it could [ever get] redundant, unless you're picking the same pocket over and over again."

Diaz mastered the art of thievery by shadowing a world-class filcher known simply as The Magician. "He was a pickpocket for 30 some-odd years," she explains of her mysterious mentor. read more

Drumline's Great White Hope


Filmmaker Charles Stone III was forced to do an about-face when casting the role of Jayson in his new marching-band dramedy Drumline (opening Friday). Described in the original script as "racially ambiguous," the part ended up going to white actor GQ at the request of 20th Century Fox. Money-conscious execs apparently thought that adding a dash of color to the all-black ensemble would make the flick more palatable to mainstream audiences — thereby boosting the film's bottom line.

"They felt like, 'Well, if we're going to give you [X-amount of] money to make the film, then we need some sort of assurance that we're going to get some of it back,'" Stone tells TV Guide Online. "So, one suggestion was to make one of the characters white."

Reluctantly, the read more

Rings Star: I'm No Jar-Jar!


While Lord of the Rings has bestowed instant fame on most of its stars, poor Andy Serkis (Topsy-Turvy, 24-Hour Party People) — the man behind computer-animated Gollum — probably won't be recognized for his digitized performance. As moviegoers will see in The Two Towers (opening Dec. 18), this creepy-crawly schizoid is certainly no shallow goofball like Jar-Jar Binks. Physically and emotionally speaking, Serkis says it's the hardest role he ever played.

"It wasn't just people acting to tennis balls on a stick," he explains. "We shot every single scene conventionally. I was in a skintight suit; I crawled around, physically moved as Gollum, doing the voice. That's read more

Daniel Day-Lewis: Disappearing Actor


Throughout most of the '90s, you could hardly go a date night without Daniel Day-Lewis horning in on your action at the multiplex. However, after taking home an Oscar for My Left Foot and raking in big bucks at the box office with The Last of the Mohicans, the thinking woman's heartthrob virtually disappeared. In fact, until director Martin Scorsese coaxed him out of retirement to play Leonardo DiCaprio's archenemy Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York (opening Dec. 20), the master thespian seemed determined to become his own "Whatever Happened to.. read more

PR NIGHTMARE

Add Natalie Cole to the list of people who think Whitney Houston made a mistake going toe-to-toe with Diane Sawyer on Primetime last week. "I think the timing was crappy," Cole told Access Hollywood. "The questions were extremely difficult, very invasive, and it's just too hard to do that. I don't even know, as a totally sober person of 20 years, if I would even like answering those questions." read more

CYBER PEEPERS MUST PAY

Pamela Anderson and ex-hubby Tommy Lee have won their lawsuit against Internet Entertainment Group — the company that marketed their infamous "honeymoon" sex tape in the late '90s. A default judgement forces IEG to pay the duo legal fees, plus the profits it made from selling their sexcapades, which amounts to about $740,000 each. Last year, the Baywatch bombshell settled a similar lawsuit with IEG over her saucy home video with ex-beau Bret Michaels of Poison. Note to Pam: Give your camcorder a rest, hon. read more

HER BIG FAT FOLLOW-UP

My Big Fat Greek Wedding star Nia Vardalos will co-star in the upcoming big-screen buddy comedy Connie and Carla, Variety reports. Like Wedding, Vardalos wrote the script for the film, which will begin shooting in April. Meanwhile, casting is underway for the pic's other female lead. read more

We're Taken By This Child Prodigy


In Steven Spielberg's Taken, Dakota Fanning (I Am Sam) plays an adorable alien-human hybrid — whose mental powers have the entire U.S. military crying for Mommy! In real life, this precocious 8-year-old astonished a group of jaded reporters at Taken's press junket: When asked simplistic kiddie questions about her work, Fanning responded with the articulation of a seasoned pro. How did the kid learn so much so fast?

"I'm home schooled, and I have a teacher that goes with me on all my movies," Fanning explains. "She's taught me a lot 'cause I've had her since I was in second grade, and I'm in fourth grade right now."

As narrator of all 10 episodes of the Sci Fi Channel miniseries, Fanning must've had to use her imagination to picture a world invaded by aliens. Er, didn't she? "Yeah, I kind of did," the young lady admits, though she adds matter-of-factly: "I had read some of the earlier scripts, so I knew what was going on." read more

Orlando Jones Takes on Leno and Letterman


Late-night TV is about to get a lot more colorful. Comic actor Orlando Jones confirms to TV Guide Online that he's in serious discussions with the FX network to headline his own after-hours alternative to Jay and Dave. But despite reports, the former 7-Up pitchman insists the project "is not a talk show. We're talking about revamping late night."

Vague on specifics, Jones says the program will be a showcase for "urban" talent much the same way Arsenio Hall's early-'90s yakker was. "I feel like a lot of [African-American] artists don't have anywhere to go," he says. "I don't see Nick [Cannon, his co-star in the upcoming marching-band drama Drumline] sitting comfortably on Leno or Letterman, any more than I see Ludacris fitting into that pantheon."

To be sure, the 34-year-old former Mad TV star isn't dissing his future late-night rivals. "Obviously, they have a specific niche," he says. "I've read more

STAGE FUN

Kevin Richardson — the eldest member of the Backstreet Boys — is Broadway bound: On Jan. 20, the 31-year-old pop star will replace Billy Zane as shady attorney Billy Flynn in Chicago. Other celebs who've recently played the role are Taye Diggs, George Hamilton and Six Feet Under's Michael C. Hall. read more

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