Today's News: Our Take


LUCKY NUMBER

Staind's new CD 14 Shades of Grey debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's album chart with 220,950 units sold. Last week's top seller, Marilyn Manson's Golden Age of Grotesque, dropped a staggering 20 spots to No. 21 with sales of 45,000 copies. For the record, that's more than just disappointing — that's humiliating. read more

THE SHOW WENT ON

Liza Minnelli, who broke her kneecap in a weekend fall in Italy, vowed she would perform at last night's Luciano Pavarotti-hosted benefit for Iraqi refugees — and she wasn't fooling. The 57-year-old entertainer sang live on Italian TV from her hospital room. She's scheduled to have surgery today. "I already have two fake hips. Now my right knee will need a metal screw," Minnelli joked to New York Post columnist Cindy Adams. "Somebody up there is trying to get me by the part!" Let's call this paranoia disguised as a joke. read more

60 Seconds with Clay Aiken

Spend a minute on the horn with American Idol 2's Clay Aiken, and you'll find it hard to believe that the freckle-faced 24-year-old didn't win the whole shebang. Seriously — for a runner-up, the kid sure is being run around! On the day that TV Guide Online connected with him, he was en route from one promotional appearance to another. And after his debut power ballad, "This Is the Night," drops June 10, his datebook will only get heavier. So, while the carrot-topped heir apparent to Rick Astley still remembers the little people, let's (quickly) ask him the big questions.


TV Guide Online: How's the publicity blitz going?
Clay Aiken:
(Laughs) Oh my goodness, blitz is the exact word to use. It's crazy.

TVGO: Okay, set the record straight: Did you or did you not know beforehand that Ruben had won?
Aiken:
I simply saw that there was a long name read more

BABY BEATLE

Former Beatle Paul McCartney, 60, and wife Heather Mills, 34, are expecting their first child later this year. In a statement, the couple said "we are delighted with this happy news." McCartney has three adult children from his marriage to Linda McCartney, who died in 1998 from breast cancer. read more

POSTPONED

Twentieth Century Fox is delaying the late-July video release of American Idol pic From Justin to Kelly to give the film more time to play in theaters. (Now, that's a joke, folks.) The musical romp — which opens June 13 — will now arrive on video and DVD in September. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the nation's largest theater chains complained that the original release date came too soon after the movie's debut in theaters. read more

TRIPPING

As if the Middle East didn't have enough drama, pop diva Whitney Houston visited Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Tuesday. Houston and hubby Bobby Brown were on a "spiritual retreat," seeking inspiration for her upcoming Christmas album. (Now that has to be a joke.) read more

Fame Lives Forever!


Fame costs. The contestant application for Fame — NBC's newest reality show — even warns against possible exposure to "injury and death." So we're guessing a few aspiring singer/dancers are about to start paying!

"Well, you know, I might maim them a little bit in rehearsal. I'm known to be tough," jokes Debbie Allen, who auditioned hundreds of performers for the 10-week series (debuting tonight at 8 pm/ET.) She'll now coach her 24 hand-picked semi-finalists as they face viewers and celebrity judges — including Britney Spears and 'N Sync manager Johnny Wright, who'll usher the winner into a recording studio after the talent search is over.

Just what should the next J.Lo or Justin Timberlake do to woo their cr read more

THE FUR IS FLYING

CBS has put the kibosh on Survivor: The Amazon winner Jenna Morasca's plans to star in PETA's new anti-fur ad. Sources confirm that the reality champ was all set to don a faux fur bikini for PETA's new campaign, "Wear Fake for the Animals' Sake," but Eye execs — citing Moraska's "contractual obligations" with the network — nixed the deal. According to a PETA rep, CBS initially OK'd the idea, as long as the word Survivor was not mentioned in the ad. PETA conceded, but the network still said no. The about-face came as a surprise to the animal rights org, which just completed a successful anti-fur campaign with American Idol finalist Vanessa Olivarez. Says the rep: "PETA encountered no problems with the folks at Fox, as Vanessa was also still under contract." read more

SHORT CUTS

Thesp Kenneth Branagh married girlfriend Lindsay Brunnock over the weekend. This is Branagh's second marriage; he was previously wed to Emma Thompson... Paramount Pictures is developing a feature film based on Avril Lavigne's hit single "Sk8er Boi," according to The Hollywood Reporter... Malcolm in the Middle co-executive producer Michael Borkow has been tapped as the new showrunner on The Bernie Mac Show. He replaces Larry Wilmore, who left the comedy in March. read more

MOVE OVER J.LO...

Ben Affleck has signed a $2 million deal with L'Oreal to peddle hair products, including shampoo, conditioners and gels, the New York Daily News reports. "Ben embodies a new generation of men who show their strength in their personality," gushes a L'Oreal rep, "but are not afraid to care for their appearance." Sadly, I don't think any of this is a joke. read more

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