Today's News: Our Take


OFF AND RUNNING

Fox posted solid numbers for the Wednesday night debuts of Cedric the Entertainer Presents and Fastlane. Cedric proved a good fit with timeslot companion Bernie Mac, with both shows averaging roughly 10 million viewers. At 9 pm, Fastlane attracted just under 10 million viewers. read more

THERE SHE IS...

Erika Harold, a 22-year-old Harvard-bound law student from Illinois, was crowned Miss America 2003 on Saturday. As usual, there were lots of tears, hugs and confetti. read more

REAL WORLD, FANTASY LOCALE

Tuesday's The Real World: Las Vegas hit the ratings jackpot — over three million viewers — so it's no surprise MTV has renewed its two best-loved reality TV staples. And taking a page from Survivor, they're setting 'em in exotic foreign locales. Come 2003, look for The Real World: Paris and Road Rules: The South Seas. A national casting call is currently underway for both shows. Exhibitionist hopefuls aged 18-24 can visit MTV's website for more info. read more

EMMY'S THERE FOR FRIENDS

After eight years, Emmy was finally there for Friends. The top-rated NBC sitcom — which is heading into its final season — picked up its first-ever best comedy series trophy at the the 54th annual Emmy Awards. Speaking of long overdue honors, Friends star Jennifer Aniston was named best lead actress in a comedy. The West Wing, meanwhile, buried the drama competition — namely, HBO's heavily favored mortuary soap Six Feet Under. NBC's White House saga won five awards, including best drama series, best actress (Allison Janney), best supporting actor (John Spencer) and supporting actress (Stockard Channing). The night's big shocker: Michael Chiklis picking up lead actor kudos for FX's controversial cop drama The Shield, beating WW's Martin Sheen. CBS's Everybody Loves Raymond was also a big winner, grabbing awards for best actor in a comedy Ray Roman read more

MAGICAL CASTING

Nicole Kidman is in talks to headline a feature adaptation of the classic '60s TV comedy Bewitched. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Oscar-nominated actress has expressed interest in starring as nose-twitching witch Samantha, the role originated by Elizabeth Montgomery. Sources say Mike Myers is the top choice to play her hubby Darren. read more

CARSON HAS EMPHYSEMA

Retired Tonight Show legend Johnny Carson has been diagnosed with emphysema. However, a rep for the 76-year-old entertainer insists he is otherwise in good health. Carson was prompted to speak out about his condition after tabloid reports said he was seriously ill with the respiratory disease. "He does have emphysema, but he's dealing with it the best he can and it's not causing him any major problems," spokesman Jeff Sotzing tells The Associated Press. "He's in great shape." Carson — who underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery three years ago — was known to smoke on the air during his 30-year Tonight Show reign. read more

IDOL PROFIT

Ryan Seacrest has signed a deal to return as host of the upcoming second installment of Fox's American Idol. He'll reportedly earn in the neighborhood of $1 million. Still no word on the fate of co-host Brian Dunkleman, but, well, it doesn't look good. read more

WANTED: HILLBILLIES

If Jerry Springer starts having trouble filling his green room, he can blame CBS. The network plans to hold open auditions in eastern Kentucky next month for its upcoming reality series The Real Beverly Hillbillies. "We're looking for people who have country smarts, but maybe not so much sophistication," casting agent Ken Billings tells The Associated Press. "We're not looking for the Hollywood stereotype of a hillbilly. We don't want people who are barefoot and toothless. We're just looking for a family that loves each other, and that America will fall in love with." In other words, barefoot and toothless is a definite plus. read more

SHORT CUTS

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon has been tapped to pen a rewrite of the upcoming Spider-Man sequel, slated to be released on May 7, 2004... Marie Osmond and her husband, music producer Brian Blosol, have adopted a baby girl named Abigail. read more

Never Laugh at Julia Roberts's Brother!


His relation to America's sweetheart notwithstanding, Eric Roberts is best known for appearing in films like Final Analysis and The Specialist as hooligans who would sooner crack skulls than jokes. So you can understand his agents' incredulity when he asked them to get him a sitcom audition.

"They laughed at me," the tough guy recalls. "So I fired them. [Eventually] I got a new agency, and they laughed at me, too. So... I went away and made a bunch of action-adventure B movies about killing people."

Now, at long last, Roberts has won the chance to slay us in an altogether different fashion — and forever shed his rough-and-tumble image — by playing Will, an egomaniacal TV anchorman, on Popular read more

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