Today's News: Our Take


DEALS, DEALS EVERYWHERE

As expected, PR princess Lizzie Grubman copped a plea Friday on charges that she backed her SUV into a crowd outside a trendy Long Island nightclub last summer. She'll spend 60 days in jail. In other celeb legal news, there's increasing speculation that accused shoplifter Winona Ryder is poised to strike a plea deal as well. read more

SHE'S A SURVIVOR

Despite complaints from music fans that she wasn't worthy of the title, R&B superstar Ashanti accepted entertainer of the year kudos at Saturday's Lady of Soul Awards. More than 28,000 signatures had been gathered on an Internet petition protesting the decision to select her for the honor. Ashanti made no mention of the controversy during the show, but Patti LaBelle said the 21-year-old was "extremely deserving of this wonderful recognition." Other winners included late singer Aaliyah, Destiny's Child and Alicia Keys. read more

PHASE TWO

Actor/race-car enthusiast Jason Priestley was released from an Indianapolis hospital on Saturday, two weeks after he sustained serious injuries in a crash at the Kentucky Speedway. The 32-year-old former Beverly Hills, 90210 star — who broke a vertebra and both feet — was transferred to an undisclosed physical rehabilitation center. He is expected to recover fully. read more

Idol Host's Secret Past Exposed!


Before he was tapped as Ryan Seacrest's second banana on American Idol, Brian Dunkleman was just another struggling actor waiting for Hollywood to hand him his big break. In other words, the 30-year-old doesn't need Simon Cowell to tell him how nasty and dehumanizing the entertainment biz can be.

"Three months ago, I went to a commercial audition for a fast food chain — let's just say it rhymes with 'Surger Ding,'" he recalls TV Guide Online. "There was a sign saying, 'Everyone will be clucking like a chicken.' And there were other actors actually practicing. I looked at them and thought, 'Do any of you people have souls?'"

Dunkleman made a beeline for the exit and never looked back. Nowadays, he's too busy to let casting directors humiliate him. "I have no time to go on any auditions," he says. "I'm actually turning stuff down now, which is fantastic! I did stand-up the ot read more

SIMONE REVEALED

Though you won't see her name in the credits of new film Simone, model Rachel Roberts can finally confirm that she indeed is the primary actress playing the title role — with a few computer enhancements — according to The Associated Press. Under a gag order imposed by New Line Cinema, Roberts was forced to work under a pseudonym and pretend she was a stand-in for the non-existent digitized actress. read more

New Bionic Woman on the Assembly Line

They have the technology... they can rebuild her... and now they are! USA Network's script doctors are busy in the operating room stitching together an update of the The Bionic Woman, ABC's campy 1976-78 Six Million Dollar Man spinoff about a tennis player-turned-secret agent who's part human, part machine and all babe. But what modern-day actress could possibly overload our circuits like Lindsay Wagner, who was the original series' artificially-girl-powered heroine, Jaime Sommers? If you ask us — and USA certainly should — any of these contenders compute.

Anna Kournikova: While she's known as much for her curves as her serves, the courts pin-up would still give a whiff of believability to Jaime's pre-op "love" life. Plus, she could break into a whole new, ahem, racket by tackling the lead in a read more

USA ON TOP

Thanks to original series like Monk and The Dead Zone, USA Network took the No. 1 spot among cable networks in all key demos. And in a show of good taste by viewers, not one primetime wrestling show made it into the top 10 of individually ranked cable programs over the summer. read more

MISTAKEN IDENTITY

Former morning television host Bryant Gumbel got a bit of a surprise when his 24-year-old son Bradley was arrested for purse snatching. But according to Gumbel family lawyers, the police apprehended the wrong man. The Manhattan District Attorney's office apparently agrees, since they have chosen not to prosecute. Phew! read more

OVER AND OUT

New York shock jocks Opie and Anthony have signed off for the last time after causing a scandal earlier this week. Radio station WNEW chose to cancel the show Thursday after the FCC began an investigation into allegations that the duo broadcast a couple having sex in New York's famed St. Patrick's Cathedral. read more

SHORT CUTS

A&E's low-rated series Nero Wolfe has been canceled... Speculation is running rampant that Vin Diesel will get an ego boost this weekend — not that he needs it — with his film XXX poised to take the top spot for the third week in a row... Irish rocker Caroline Corr married longtime beau Frank Woods on Thursday evening... Morgan Freeman has signed on to play opposite Owen Wilson in his new film The Big Bounce. read more

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