Today's News: Our Take


LIVE WIRE

Thanks to guest host Al Gore, Saturday Night Live scored its highest ratings in nearly a year over the weekend. Among the show's highlights: Gore making out with wife Tipper for almost three minutes and a Bachelor parody in which the onetime V.P. shared a hot tub with Sen. Joe Lieberman (as played by Chris Parnell). Gore's real showstopper, however, came Sunday on 60 Minutes, when he announced that he wouldn't run for president in 2004. read more

BAD MEMORIES

Rocker Tommy Lee has put his Malibu home on the market, nearly a year and a half after a 4-year-old boy accidentally drowned in his pool during a birthday party, the Los Angeles Times reports. The onetime Motley Crue drummer wants to buy a new home with his fiancée, Mayte Garcia. read more

Mena Suvari: Hip to be Square


Mena Suvari — best known as Kevin Spacey's fantasy girl in American Beauty — went retro for her prostitute role in Sonny (opening Dec. 27). The film, which marks Nic Cage's directorial debut, is set waaay back in the early '80s. It's novel for the 23-year-old actress, who wasn't old enough to fully experience that time first hand.

"I loved that it was a period film," Suvari enthuses. "I loved the costumes and the hair and makeup design that I got to play with."

Only someone who didn't actually wear these "period" clothes the first time around could be that thrilled over Sonny's wardrobe. Like a little girl who's raided her mother's closet, she happily trills: "I loved the black skintight pants with the little collar and the hot pink [accents]. It was so rocker chic."

Suvari even traded her normally neat coif for feathered bangs, and she really liked it. "I got so into the hairstyle that I w read more

Sean Astin's Fond Fellowship


The Lord of the Rings cast has no complaints about behind-the-scenes tension and diva 'tudes. After spending a year and a half together filming in remote New Zealand, they've formed the kind of friendships we only thought possible in summer camp! In a true test of the fellowship, the hobbits' portrayers stay in touch, even in between the re-shoots and promotional events they've done since Rings's main production wrapped in 2001. In fact, Sean Astin (Sam) says he can hardly get away from these guys!

"Dom [Monaghan, Merry] lives with my brother [Mackenzie] — they're roommates in Los Angeles, and I sold him my car this year, so I see Dom all the time," Astin says. "Elijah [Wood] and I'll go to movies. I saw Ian McKellen when I was up in Toronto shooting [a TV pilot], and he was shooting X-Men II. We went to a play."

Monaghan and Billy Boyd (Pippin) — an inseparable hobbit pair on-screen read more

SHORT CUTS

NBC has ordered a second season of the reality show Meet My Folks to air Saturdays at 10 pm/ET beginning Jan. 25... Reality producer Mike Fleiss (The Bachelor) is developing a sure-to-be R-rated feature film that will follow eight college students to Cancun for spring break. read more

CHIPS OFF THE OLD BLOCK

Bourne Identity helmer Doug Liman is developing a CHiPs update for NBC, Variety reports. Unlike the original series, which starred Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada as two motorcycle cops tooling around Los Angeles, the new version will be set in San Francisco and feature a pair of ambiguously gay patrolmen. Everything about this story is true except for that last part. That was just me being silly. read more

IT MAID MILLIONS

Trekkies everywhere should be ashamed of themselves! In a shocking upset, Jennifer Lopez's new romantic comedy Maid in Manhattan swept past Star Trek: Nemesis to debut at No. 1 at the box office. Maid grossed $19 million to Nemesis's $18.75 million. It was the worst Trek opening in more than a decade. The new marching band dramedy Drumline opened in third place with a bang-up $13 million, followed by Rob Schneider's latest comedy The Hot Chick and Die Another Day, tied for fourth with $7.5 million. read more

ODD COUPLE

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Cedric the Entertainer are in talks to star in the big-screen comedy Joe's Last Chance. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the plot revolves around an unlikely friendship that develops between a dedicated hit man (Schwarzenegger) and his latest target (Cedric). read more

SOMETHING TO CROWE ABOUT

Russell Crowe has found a lady to tame him. The Oscar-winning grump is engaged to marry his longtime girlfriend, musician Danielle Spencer, his reps confirmed over the weekend. Crowe popped the question last month in Sydney. The couple reportedly plan a mid-to-late 2003 wedding. read more

FAREWELL

Former Lovin' Spoonful guitarist Zal Yanovsky died of a heart attack Friday at his home in Kingston, Ontario. He was 57. read more

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