Today's News: Our Take


MC Hammer's Surreal Life gamble has paid off: The WB has signed the rapper-turned-reality star to headline a family sitcom based on his life... In a sudden and surprising move, Reese Witherspoon's hubby Ryan Phillippe fired his agents and managers on Friday. No reason was given, but we suspect he finally got around to seeing his 1995 TV movie Deadly Invasion: The Killer Bee Nightmare. read more


Wanna tick George Clooney off? Say something bad about Solaris, his recent sci-fi romance that flopped at the box office. At a press conference over the weekend at the Berlin Film Festival, a journalist called Solaris "boring" to Clooney's face. The actor's response? "I find you fascinating," he scowled. "You crack me up, man. You just wanted to get up and be a rat, you know that? You just wanted to get up and say something rotten. What a jerk! I mean honestly, you know, what a [expletive] thing to say!" I guess this would be a bad time to tell him that he made a lousy Batman. read more


Eminem plans only one U.S. concert this year, on July 12 in his native Detroit. Missy Elliott and 50 Cent will open the show. In related news, two of the rapper's favorite singers, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera, will embark on a 45-city tour together beginning June 4. More details are to come. read more


Michael Jackson's nose is still out of joint over that frightening (and highly rated) British documentary in which he told Martin Bashir that he sometimes lets children sleep in his bed — and he's not taking the matter lying down. Jacko plans to release a video of Bashir praising Jackson's skills as a parent, which would seemingly contradict statements the journalist made during the 90-minute piece. The extra footage was shot during the making of the documentary. According to a statement released by the singer's camp, "The film shows extraordinary scenes of Martin Bashir praising the way Michael treats children and commenting on how good a father he is." Here's my two cents: Any child that disses Razzie nominee Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones — as little Prince Michael did — can't be all that messed up. Speaking of which. read more


The producer behind Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is developing a two-hour live special for the WB in which contestants will have a shot at winning $1 billion, Variety reports. The Pepsi-sponsored contest — slated to air at the start of the new fall season in September — is being described as a real-life Willy Wonka. read more


Academy Award nominations will be announced this morning at 8:30 am/ET live on ABC, and insiders are predicting that Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Pianist will be the five films nominated for best picture. Dark horse contenders include Adaptation, Far From Heaven and About Schmidt. read more


Ben Curtis, the 22-year-old actor best known for pitching Dell computers, was arrested Sunday night in Manhattan on a marijuana possession charge, Court TV's reports. Curtis is currently being held in Central Booking and is scheduled to be arraigned later today. read more


VH1 has filed a $1.5 million countersuit against odd couple Liza Minnelli and David Gest over their botched reality series. According to court papers posted on Court TV's, the music channel says Gest engaged in "unprofessional, erratic and deceitful conduct that went so far beyond the acceptable bounds of show business eccentricity as to render the series effectively unproducable." read more


Moviegoers have thumbed their noses at critics yet again. The poorly reviewed romantic comedy How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days — starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey — debuted at No. 1 over the weekend with $24.1 million. Jackie Chan's latest martial-arts comedy Shanghai Knights opened in second place with $19.8 million, followed by Oscar shoo-in Chicago, which expanded into wide release and jumped to No. 3 with $10.7 million. Last weekend's top film, The Recruit, fell to fourth place with $9.5 million. read more


Star Wars guru George Lucas broke ground Sunday on a $300 million special effects campus near San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. The compound will house the digital arts division of Lucasfilm Ltd. "I think this will begin to put a stake in the ground for San Francisco as a filmmaking community, as a creator of world cinema," he said. The 850,000-square-foot project is scheduled for completion in 2005. read more

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