Today's News: Our Take


American Idol viewers' love for Rickey Smith was anything but endless. The 23-year-old student teacher got the boot on last night's show, narrowing the field to just seven finalists. Surprisingly, Kimberly Caldwell, who once again ranked among the bottom three, didn't have an emotional breakdown following the announcement. Meanwhile, if you have questions for Rickey — who will be sitting down with TV Guide Online in the next few days — send them via the link at the bottom of this page. Extra consideration will be given to folks whose questions end with kind words about me. read more


An LAPD officer has been accused of using law enforcement computers to access confidential records of stars such as Sean Penn, Sharon Stone and Halle Berry. According to the Los Angeles Times, the city paid $387,500 last month to settle a lawsuit which alleged that officer Kelly Chrisman obtained top-secret celeb scoop and then sold it to the tabs. read more


The mother of talk radio loudmouth Dr. Laura Schlessinger died of natural causes, not murder, the Los Angeles coroner's office confirms. Police initially suspected homicide because items in 77-year-old Yolanda Schlessinger's house were strewn about when officers found her body last December. read more


David Schwimmer will remain chummy with NBC even after Friends ends its 10-year run next season. Variety reports that the network has signed the actor to a two-year deal to work behind the scenes developing, producing and directing series. As part of the pact, Schwimmer also gets his own company, overhead, a discretionary fund and a young, sexy assistant. read more


NBC is developing a TV movie about the dramatic rescue of 19-year-old POW Jessica Lynch. The network hopes to have the pic on the air by next fall, whether it's good or not. read more


Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon's anti-war stance has led the Baseball Hall of Fame to cancel a 15th anniversary celebration of Bull Durham, an event which was to feature the outspoken thesps. Hall president Dale Petroskey, a former White House assistant press secretary under Ronald Reagan, sent the couple a letter saying their remarks "ultimately could put our troops in even more danger." He then asked them for an autograph. read more


Newlyweds Russell Crowe and Danielle Spencer have purchased a waterfront penthouse apartment in Sydney for $8.5 million... Warner Bros. is releasing four Barbra Streisand films — Up the Sandbox, What's Up, Doc?, The Main Event and Nuts — on DVD July 1... In honor of Mother's Day, Cartoon Network will air a seven-hour tribute to Wilma Flintstone on Sunday, May 11 beginning at 12 pm/ ET. read more


Earlier this week, published reports said that David Letterman's cue card guy Tony Mendez (known to viewers as "Big Ink") quit CBS's Late Show for personal reasons. Well, the dude apparently changed his mind, because now we hear that he's staying. Apparently, someone reminded him that he gets paid to hold poster board. read more

South Park Comments on War

Less than two months after 9/11, South Park gave us an episode titled "Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants." Now, the toon takes on the U.S.-Iraqi war. To help plot tonight's 100th episode — airing 10 pm/ET on Comedy Central — co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone called in heavy reinforcements. Namely, their idol-turned-fan Norman Lear.

The 80-year-old's passion for inspiring youth to civic activism fueled what Parker modestly refers to as a "very somewhat special episode" of the series. Tune in, and you'll find everyone's favorite fourth graders joining in anti-war protests because they believe in, well, cutting class. Their pro-war teacher Mr. Garrison strikes read more

James Cameron's Titanic Obsession

Despite James Cameron's success with Titanic and The Abyss, you'd think the director would be water-logged by now! Not so. The "King of the World" headed back to sea again for his newest endeavor, Ghosts of the Abyss (opening Friday in IMAX and 35mm 3-D theaters). It's a 3-D documentary about — yeah, you guessed it — the shipwreck of the H.M.S. Titanic.

"The problem with Titanic is that every time you answer one question, you find some more," Cameron says. "So, you could continue to analyze that wreck site for years."

And he has! But before you get your hopes up for Titanic 2 — or start thinking Cameron has gone off the deep end — he says Ghosts will most likely be his final film about that fateful voyage. "We may use some of the footage th read more

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