Today's News: Our Take


What would a new season of Law & Order be without another cast change. Actor-turned-Republican senator Fred Thompson is poised to replace Dianne Wiest as the show's district attorney, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Thompson's term as Tennessee senator ends in January. Prior to entering the political fray, Thompson appeared in such films as The Hunt for Red October, In the Line of Fire, Die Hard 2 and No Way Out. read more


Dave Williams, lead singer of Dallas quartet Drowning Pool, was found dead on the band's tour bus Wednesday in Virginia, MTV reports. He was 30. The cause of death was unknown. Drowning Pool — which is touring with Ozzfest — performed at the Verizon Wireless Music Center in Noblesville, Ind., on Tuesday. read more

24 HOURS OF 24

Miss any episodes of Fox's critical hit 24 this year? The show's low ratings suggest you probably did, so set your VCRs for this golden opportunity: Starting at midnight on Sept. 1, FX will rerun the drama's entire first season — that's a solid 24 hours of 24. The marathon ends at midnight on Sept. 2, which is Labor Day. (And if you miss that, you can always buy the first season on DVD, to be released Sept. 17.) read more


Bruce Springsteen held on to the top spot on Billboard's album chart for the second consecutive week. The Rising sold 239,000 copies — a 54 percent sales drop from last week's record-setting debut. New to the top 10: Scarface's The Fix (No. 4 with 160,000 copies) and Trick Daddy's Thug Holiday (No. 6 with 130,000 copies). read more


Actor Jason Priestley underwent surgery Wednesday on his broken back and feet, three days after crashing his race car into a wall at Kentucky Speedway. Doctors expect the 32-year-old former Beverly Hills, 90210 star to make a full recovery. read more


The Big Apple is mourning the loss of longtime New York Post journalist-gossip columnist Neal Travis, who died Wednesday of cancer. He was 62. Travis was the first editor of the Post's famed Page Six. read more


ABC is thisclose to picking up a sitcom pilot from former Spin City star Michael J. Fox. According to Variety, Fox will write and executive produce the project, which revolves around a larger-than-life pro hockey player who gets to spend more time with his family after he is forced into retirement. It's unclear whether Fox would appear in the show. read more


American Idol fans are an unpredictable lot. In a surprise move, viewers voted off sweet Georgia underdog R.J. Helton Wednesday night. It was widely believed that Nikki McKibbin — coming off of an abysmal performance Tuesday evening — was a shoo-in to get the boot. Now, the contest comes down to four finalists: McKibbin, Kelly Clarkson, Tamyra Gray and Justin Guarini. Meanwhile, Fox's summer smash continues to pick up steam as it heads toward its Sept. 4 finale. Tuesday night's performance edition attracted a series-high 12.7 million viewers. read more


After a two-year hiatus, hippie jam band Phish is going back on tour. The Vermont musicians — best known for hit songs like "Down with Disease" — took a break after wrapping their last tour in October 2000. But on New Year's Eve, Phish will play Madison Square Garden. Then on Jan. 2, they'll do a three-day engagement in Hampton, Va. More concert dates are expected to be announced later on. read more


Reality TV's Anna Nicole Smith has ex-boyfriend trouble: According to The Associated Press, Mark Hatten — whom Smith broke up with in June 2000 — has been charged with battery, assault with a deadly weapon, terrorist threats and stalking. Hatten allegedly made threatening phone calls to the ex-Playboy pinup and assaulted her neighbor. The 34-year-old, who claims he's innocent, has a pretrial hearing on Aug. 23. If convicted, he faces up to eight years in prison. read more

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