Today's News: Our Take


LEO'S GREAT

Leonardo DiCaprio is in talks to play the title role in director Baz Luhrmann's upcoming big-budget Alexander the Great epic, Variety reports. Production is slated to start in early 2003, around the same time that Oliver Stone begins directing Colin Farrell in his own Alexander pic. This could get ugly, folks. read more

JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS COVER

CBS announced the identities of the 16 castaways participating in Survivor: Thailand this morning, and exec producer Mark Burnett is calling the group the best-looking yet. (We're inclined to believe him.) Among the future inductees into the Reality Has-Been Hall of Fame: a 29-year-old female firefighter, a 53-year-old first-grade teacher, an abs-olutely stunning 25-year-old dental student, a 40-year-old pastor and a 30-year-old NYC police officer named Ken (pictured, left) — who we're pegging as the Colby of the bunch. Also keep an eye out for 27-year-old Texas babe Penny, who could be the next Colleen Haskell. To view pics of all 16 contestants, click here. Survivor: Thailand premieres Thursday, Sept. 19. read more

SOMETHING TO CROW ABOUT?

Note to Sheryl Crow: Fire your agents. The Grammy winner has agreed to perform an exclusive mini-concert for the houseguests on Big Brother 3 on Wednesday, Aug. 21. As a result, CBS is expanding the episode to two hours. read more

24 HOURS OF 24

Miss any episodes of Fox's critical hit 24 this year? The show's low ratings suggest you probably did, so set your VCRs for this golden opportunity: Starting at midnight on Sept. 1, FX will rerun the drama's entire first season — that's a solid 24 hours of 24. The marathon ends at midnight on Sept. 2, which is Labor Day. (And if you miss that, you can always buy the first season on DVD, to be released Sept. 17.) read more

IDOL WORSHIPPED

Powered by its Monday night reality block of Dog Eat Dog, Meet My Folks and Fear Factor, NBC won the ratings race last week. Fox's American Idol, meanwhile, was once again demo king — finishing first among adults 18-34 and 18-49. read more

R.I.P., Dawson's Creek?


We're always thanking God for small favors, so how about we give him props for a really big one: Chances are, this will be the final season of Dawson's Creek. Hallelujah!

"People are saying it's the last year," series star James Van Der Beek confirms to TV Guide Online. "It's been a great run. I'm grateful. Six years? I'll take it."

Personally, we would have been happy had Dawson and Co. paddled their way off the TV landscape following graduation day at Capeside High, but that's just us. On second thought, maybe it's not. "It's kind of nice to see light at the end of the tunnel," admits Van Der Beek, who has been holed up with Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams and read more

BANKRUPT

Comedy Central has pulled the plug on its long-running quizzer Win Ben Stein's Money, the New York Post reports. The show's upcoming sixth season — kicking off Oct. 28 — will be its last. "The series has lost momentum over the course of the year," says a network rep. "We are in discussions with [Ben] about future projects." read more

APOCALYPSE NOW

As expected, Anna Nicole Smith's audience is slipping away — but not as fast as many had hoped. The second episode of E!'s Anna Nicole Show notched a 3.0 rating — off just 25 percent from last week's strong debut. In fact, the show actually improved its performance week-to-week among young adults. Given how bad the premiere was, insiders predicted the reality disgrace would suffer a steeper second-week nosedive. read more

DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE

Wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin surrendered to Texas police on Tuesday on a domestic violence charge. He posted $5,000 bond and was released pending future legal action. The 36-year-old is accused of beating his wife, former beauty queen Debra Williams, in June. read more

EVIL TURN

Brian Cox — currently an Emmy nominee for his guest turn on Frasier last season — has signed on to play villain William Stryker in X-Men 2, according to The Hollywood Reporter. read more

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