Today's News: Our Take


SHORT CUTS

Screenwriter Ivan Moffat, 84 — who got an Oscar nod for the 1956 classic Giant — died of a stroke on July 4. Giant was James Dean's final film and co-starred Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor... Wrestler-actor The Rock is attached to star in an untitled film for Columbia that The Hollywood Reporter describes as a comedic take on Harrison Ford's 1985 drama Witness. read more

OH, BROTHER

Believe it or not, CBS's premiere of Big Brother 3 edged Fox's summertime smash American Idol in the ratings Wednesday night. Brother averaged 9.2 million viewers to Idol's 9 million. But among adults 18-49, both shows — which won't air head-to-head after this week — tied with a 4.1 rating. read more

TEACHING KIDS ABOUT HIV/AIDS

Sesame Street is addressing the AIDS crisis in South Africa, where one in nine people is HIV-positive. Takalani Sesame — the show's name there — soon will introduce its first HIV-positive Muppet character, Reuters reports. The female character has no name or form yet, but will have "high self-esteem" and "be fully a part of the community." Sesame is considering bringing a similar character to its U.S. audience. read more

END QUOTE

"The first thing I think of is [playing] Wonder Woman! I want to maybe appear on a Law & Order show or The West Wing. I love to act... people always say I'm a natural and so it should be fun." — Wimbledon champ Serena Williams revealing her acting ambitions in an interview with Access Hollywood. read more

ENRON: THE MOVIE

CBS has tapped director Penelope Spheeris (Wayne's World) to helm its Enron TV pic, The Crooked E: The Inside Story of Enron. The film — which is slated to air sometime next season — is based on Brian Cruver's upcoming book Anatomy of Greed. Brian Dennehy will star. read more

LIVING IN SIN

How's this for a Fear Factor? The new NBC reality series Love Shack has singles moving in together before the first date. Here's the sitch: A man and woman "shack up" in a Southern Calif. mansion to date — and ditch — their various houseguests. (Kinky!) At the end of six episodes, the winning couple gets a one-year lease on the posh digs. Shack debuts Aug. 26. read more

REMEMBERING ROD

Turner Classic Movies will honor late Oscar-winning actor Rod Steiger with a four-film festival Saturday beginning at 1:30 pm/ET. The lineup will include In the Heat of the Night and Doctor Zhivago. read more

DRAMA QUEEN?

Singer George Michael — whose new single "Shoot the Dog" lampoons the U.S.-led war on terror — fears his life would be in danger if he returned to America. He cites a New York Post article titled "Pop Perv's 9/11 slur" and a subsequent interview he did with CNN as the culprits. "I was trying to do some damage control because my life was in danger," he told Britain's ITV network. "Americans are very reactionary right now and I — because of that article — cannot return to America, even though my partner lives there." The video for "Shoot the Dog" depicts British Prime Minister Tony Blair as a poodle being petted by President Bush. read more

Tony Shalhoub's Mind Games


It's a big week in the life of actor Tony Shalhoub. For starters, Men in Black II, in which he plays a wall-eyed alien with replaceable heads, is the nation's No. 1 film. And come Friday, his offbeat mystery series, Monk, debuts on USA Network (9 pm/ET). In the latter, he portrays a sharp-eyed detective who's obsessive-compulsive. (One scene finds his title character pulling out antiseptic wipes in the middle of a high-speed chase.) Sadly, Shalhoub tells TV Guide Online that he thinks the disorder is contagious.

"I spend so many more of my waking hours as Monk than I do as myself that I'm afraid a little of him is starting to rub off on me," confesses the former Wings cabby, calling from the show's set in Toronto. "I'm cleaning the phone right now as we speak. Believe me, there is a lot of bacteria on this phone!"

Even before filming, thou read more

The Perks of Being Popular


The saying goes, you keep the friends that you make in high school forever — and for rising starlet Leslie Grossman's sake, we hope that it's also true of the friends that you make while portraying a high school student.

"[Popular executive producer] Ryan Murphy and I are still very close," says the actress, who played psychotic cheerleader Mary Cherry on the schizoid 1999-2001 WB dramedy. "In fact, he just took me and Tamara Mello, who played Lily [the show's resident tree hugger], to Hawaii as kind of a thank-you for all the years we worked together."

Although Grossman already has her next gig lined up — she's a scene-stealing second banana in NBC's midseason Jason Bateman comed read more

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