Today's News: Our Take


DAMAGE ASSESSMENT

Horrendous reviews and a terrorist-related plot didn't keep moviegoers from seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger's new action film Collateral Damage over the weekend. The pic — delayed four months due to Sept. 11 — opened at No. 1 with a so-so $15.2 million. Family pic Big Fat Liar, starring Malcolm in the Middle's Frankie Muniz, debuted at No. 2 with $11.7 million, followed by the critically thrashed remake of Rollerball (No. 3 with $9 million). And after four weeks on top, Black Hawk Down slipped to No. 4 with $8 million. Overall box office receipts were off 22 percent from this time last year. For an explanation, read on... read more

TIRED STORY

The redneck romantic comedy Waking Up in Reno, starring Billy Bob Thornton, Patrick Swayze, Charlize Theron and Natasha Richardson, has been put to sleep again. After several postponements, Miramax was finally poised to release the ill-fated movie on Feb. 22 in select theaters. But this week, the studio changed its mind and delayed the film's opening yet again. "[February] is a crowded time in the marketplace, and we thought the film would have a better chance for success later in the year," Miramax spokesperson Matthew Hiltzik tells TV Guide Online. Based on the yawns and misplaced giggles at a recent industry screening, however, we think Waking Up might remain in hibern read more

SHORT CUTS

Ally McBeal alum James LeGros — who romanced a transsexual on the Fox dramedy — appears on the March 7 episode of Friends, TV Guide Online has learned. He scores a date with Lisa Kudrow's Phoebe, only to annoy her with sleazy trash talk... Undeclared creator Judd Apatow is producing a new comedy pilot for Fox titled Life on Parole, about a parole officer who becomes best buds with one of his charges, according to The Hollywood Reporter. — Michael Ausiello with Daniel R. Coleridge and Sabrina Rojas Weiss read more

NO LAUGHING MATTER

A Friends spokesperson is denying a tabloid tale that the sitcom's writers are toying with the idea of killing off Rachel. Star magazine reports that Jennifer Aniston's pregnant character may die in the season (or series) finale while giving birth to her child with Ross. "It's not true," the rep insists to TV Guide Online. read more

WHERE'S VANILLA SKY?

Hey Drew, your ex needs a shoulder to cry on: On the eve of today's Oscar nominations announcement, Tom Green's big-screen debacle, Freddy Got Fingered, received a leading eight nominations for the 22nd annual Razzie Awards — dissing the worst in cinema during 2001. In addition to worst pic of the year, Freddy received nods for worst actor (Green), director (Green), writer (Green), supporting actor (Rip Torn), supporting actress (Ms. Barrymore and Julie Hagerty) and screen couple (Green and any animal he abuses). Competing with Freddy for worst film are Sylvester Stallone's race car read more

GOLD RUSH

Nominations for the 74th annual Academy Awards will be announced this morning in Hollywood, and noted kudos expert Tom O'Neil (GoldDerby.com) is predicting that the five best picture slots will be filled by A Beautiful Mind, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Moulin Rouge, In the Bedroom and Black Hawk Down. Meanwhile, ABC has announced plans for a special live post-Oscar broadcast of The View immediately following the March 24 ceremony. Barbara, Meredith and co. — who will be joined by surprise "celebrity guests" — will recap all the Oscar highs and lows. read more

FIREMAN

Two Guys and Girl grad Nathan Fillion has been cast as the lead in Firefly, Joss Whedon's futuristic space Western series for Fox, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Firefly — which already has a 13-episode commitment from the network — is set 400-500 years in the future. In other TV casting news, Donnie Wahlberg has signed on to star in the NBC's cop pilot Boomtown. read more

HALLE MEETS BERNIE

Monster's Ball star Halle Berry will make a cameo on The Bernie Mac Show on Feb. 13, TV Guide Online has learned. Here's the sitch: Bernie jokes to a talk show host that he'd hook up with Halle Berry if he were ever widowed. This causes his angry wife Wanda (Kellita Smith) to have a nightmare about Bernie attending her funeral — with Berry as his date! read more

WHERE WERE ALL THE MOVIEGOERS?

Watching the Olympics, of course! NBC's coverage of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics opening ceremony notched a 25.5 national rating and 42 share Friday night, making it the highest-rated opening ceremony ever. Nielsen estimates that 72 million people watched at least a portion of the nearly four-hour extravaganza. read more

OUT OF LIFELINES

ABC is overhauling its Monday night schedule beginning March 4, adding a second weekly edition of My Wife and Kids at 8 pm/ET, followed by the return of The Wayne Brady Show at 8:30 pm/ET. At 9 pm/ET, new quizzer The Chair will replace the celebrity edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (Regis can still be seen on Thursdays) and, as previously reported, Once and Again will reclaim its old 10 pm/ET timeslot. In other scheduling news, the WB will move Glory Days to Mondays at 9 pm/ET beginning March 11; the struggling series will temporarily replace Angel. read more

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