Today's News: Our Take

Family Ties Dad Turns Criminal!

Isn't it always a perverse thrill to see goody-goody classic TV stars go bad? Recently, actor Michael Gross — best known as Michael J. Fox's hippie pacifist pop on Family Ties — went against type with some nasty new roles. Not only is he recurring as the frosty father of Noah Wyle's Dr. Carter on ER, he's downright homicidal on Sunday's Law & Order: Criminal Intent (airing 9 pm/ET on NBC).

Gross finds parenthood on ER far different from his Family Ties days. Muses the actor: "I suppose the biggest difference in dads here is that while Steven Keaton was nothing if not emotionally accessible, [Jack Carter] is not. One might say he's emotionally constipated read more


Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann tells TV Guide Online that Nicole Kidman will definitely be at next week's Golden Globe awards — where she's nominated for The Others and Moulin Rouge. (As previously reported, a work conflict nearly prevented her from attending.) Assures the auteur: "When I saw her in Sydney two days ago, she said, 'Are you kidding? I'm nominated for drama and comedy. I'll be there.'" read more


Survivor is going back to its roots. The fourth installment of CBS's reality franchise — Survivor: Marquesas — will take place on the South Pacific island of Nuku Hiva. The show's first chapter was set on the South Pacific island of Palau Tiga. (We can only hope it's that good.) Survivor: Marquesas will debut on Feb. 28. read more


Wednesday's telecast of the 29th annual American Music Awards attracted 16 million viewers, ABC's best Wednesday ratings since January 2001.... ABC is developing a TV movie sequel to the 1980 big screen musical Fame, Variety reports. A weekly series could follow... Disney is developing a feature film based on its Haunted Mansion theme park ride. Two other Mouse House rides — The Country Bears and Pirates of the Caribbean — are also headed to the big screen... Neil LaBute's Off Broadway play, The Shape of Things, is being made into a film. — Michael Ausiello read more


Actor-comedian Chris Rock, 35, and his wife of five years, Malaak Compton-Rock, 31, are expecting their first child. No word on when the baby is due. read more

Survivor: Africa Finale Party Scoop!

Piña coladas and Survivor "stars" flowed freely on CBS's Television City lot on Thursday night in L.A., where Survivor: Africa's final Tribal Council and safari-themed after party were held. Milling about the amusingly tacky decor on Stage 46 — mock straw huts and ghastly zebra-print sofas abounded — everyone buzzed about curly-haired soccer player Ethan Zohn's victory.

The shy $1 million prize winner himself has no thrilling plans for the future: His chances of playing pro soccer looking slim, the 27-year-old says he'll be content to coach inner-city youth sports instead. Elsewhere, original Survivor victor Richard Hatch lamented fellow bad guy Lex van den Berghe's defeat, while Survivor: The Australian Outback champ Tina Wesson was deligh read more

Jamie Kennedy's Risky Experiment

Talk about self control: In his new WB Candid Camera-esque sketch comedy, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment (premiering Sunday at 8 pm/ET), Scream star Jamie Kennedy has to adopt a variety of outlandish personas — including a Malibu-bred hip-hop wannabe and an overzealous infomercial host — without ever cracking up. However, Kennedy confesses to TV Guide Online that he did break down while shooting a skit in which his character can't stop drooling as a result of jaw surgery.

"I started laughing, but you can never tell I'm laughing because I have my mouth open," the 30-year-old stand-up comic-cum-practical joker recalls. "I just thought, 'If this is how it's going to be, I don't know how I'm going to do this!' But ever since that bit, I've never laughed. I've always really been in it."

Although Kennedy has appeared in a n read more


Score one for the good guys: Ethan Zohn, the affable 27-year-old professional soccer player from Lexington, Mass., was crowned Survivor: Africa's latest $1 million winner Thursday night. Zohn narrowly beat out 57-year-old grandmother Kim Johnson. Ratings-wise, the two-hour finale on CBS edged out NBC's Must-See comedy block by 6 percent based on preliminary Nielsen data. But Survivor mania has definitely subsided: Compared to the show's first finale back in August 2000, Thursday night's closer was off by 52 percent. For all the scoop from CBS's big Survivor bash, click here. read more


Oscar-nominated thesp Winona Ryder, 30, appeared in a Beverly Hills courtroom Thursday for the first time since being arrested last month for allegedly shoplifting $5,000 in clothing and accessories from Saks Fifth Avenue. At the hearing, Judge Elden Fox extended Ryder's bond until Feb. 8, pending further investigation of the case. The star of Girl, Interrupted and Little Women has not yet been formally charged with a crime. read more


Nominations for the 13th annual Producers Guild Awards were announced Thursday and A Beautiful Mind, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Moulin Rouge and Shrek will compete for best picture. TV drama nominees are CSI, Law & Order, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos and The West Wing. On the TV comedy side, Frasier, Friends, Malcolm in the Middle, read more

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