Today's News: Our Take


Country crooner Toby Keith's new album Unleashed, featuring the controversial post-Sept. 11 song "Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (The Angry American)," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart, selling more than 338,000 copies. Entering the chart at No. 2 was Volume 10 of the Now That's What I Call Music! compilation series, which sold a disappointing 288,000 copies. Now that's what I call a flop. read more


Fox and sister cabler Fox News Channel will not accept advertising for their Sept. 11 anniversary coverage, a decision that will cost the two networks $5 million. The other major networks, however, are not expected to follow suit. read more


Hollywood seems hell-bent on making Kelly Osbourne a star. Ozzy's wacky offspring — whose cover of Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach" was a surprise success (commercially speaking) — is in talks to play the musically inclined best friend in Disney's upcoming remake of the 1976 comedy Freaky Friday. According to Variety, Kelly is also expected to contribute a song to the film's soundtrack. The Parent Trap's Lindsay Lohan will play the teen at the center of Freaky Friday, and Annette Bening stars as the mom. read more


Harry Connick Jr. has officially signed on to play Debra Messing's love interest on Will & Grace this season. Connick has committed to do 12 episodes, beginning with the Sept. 26 season premiere. Meanwhile, Kevin Bacon will appear in the show's second episode playing himself. read more


PBS's Latino drama American Family and CBS's freshman hit The Guardian were the big winners at Wednesday's fourth annual Family Television Awards. Family was named best special series and Guardian was honored as best new series. Other winners include: Guardian's Simon Baker, Gilmore Girls' Alexis Bledel, ABC's My Wife and Kids and the WB's 7th Heaven. read more

Dr. Frank-N-Furter Battles Friends

In one of the more gutsy moves of the new fall season, the WB is launching a comedy block on Thursday nights opposite NBC's Must-See TV juggernaut. Leading the charge against Friends at 8 pm/ET will be the Frog network's update of the '60s sitcom Family Affair, with Gary Cole and Tim Curry in the respective bachelor and butler roles.

"I'm sort of relishing [the competition]," Curry tells TV Guide Online. "I think it's enormously brave of the WB to put on a comedy night on Thursday, and I'm rather proud that we're a part of it. Somebody's got to go there, so why not me?"

And the 56-year-old Brit — best known for his gender-bending turn as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show  read more


Moonlighting creator Glenn Gordon Caron is developing a new hour-long series for ABC titled Meant to Be. "It's a romantic comedy set in the afterlife," he tells Variety. Meanwhile, China Beach creator John Sacret Young is working on a new ABC drama titled B.O.S.S., about a group of female vice cops. Both shows are slated to premiere in fall 2003. read more


Frida, the biopic of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo starring Salma Hayek, will open the 59th Venice Film Festival on Aug. 29... Anjelica Huston will star opposite Hilary Swank in Iron Jawed Angels, an HBO original movie about legendary feminist Alice Paul... The WB has ordered six episodes of the hour-long drama The Black Sash for midseason. Russell Wong stars as a cop who opens a martial arts school. read more


Finally, a reason to start watching The Drew Carey Show again: Ex-Titus leading lady Cynthia Watros is joining the cast of the fading ABC sitcom this fall, playing an old high school crush of Drew's. read more

Martin Lawrence Gets Defensive

The late '90s weren't kind to Martin Lawrence. His rap sheet includes arrests for waving a gun in the middle of L.A. traffic, carrying a gun onto an airplane and nightclub brawling. He was also accused of sexual harassment by his Martin leading lady and later hospitalized when an overheated jog left him comatose for three days. He's not asleep anymore, though!

His new concert film Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat — as in "run, tell that" — is the forum he's chosen to tell his side of the story, but "not in an angry way." Dramatically, he explains: "Laughter is part of the masquerade of the pain."

Lawrence shies away from discussing the sexual harassment suit, then blames his other troubles on misunderstandings and marijuana-induced hallucinations. He says "it hurts" to relive these incidents, "but if it can help me to understand a road that I don't want to travel agai read more

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