Today's News: Our Take

Joan Allen: The Evil Within

Joan Allen — best known for playing heroines in The Contender, The Crucible and Face/Off — jumped at the chance to go bad in the TNT miniseries The Mists of Avalon (which concludes tonight at 8 pm/ET).

"It really appealed to me when I found out they offered me the role [of Morgause]," the 44-year-old three-time Oscar nominee tells TV Guide Online. "My agent said, 'It's a villain,' and I said, 'Send me the script! Send me the script!'"

In the two-part epic, which is based on Marion Zimmer Bradley's retelling of the Arthurian legend, Morgause lies and schemes her way to power. Co-star Anjelica Huston — Morgause's rival and sister, Viviane — was t read more

Emmy Nominees React!

It seems fitting that Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe should be the only members of The West Wing ensemble vying for a lead acting Emmy: They were the only series regulars who showed up Monday for the first day of work on the show's third season. Co-stars Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford and John Spencer — supporting actor-actress Emmy nominees themselves — went AWOL reportedly because they want a raise.

For his part, Lowe isn't letting the so-called stalemate take away from his Emmy celebration. As it is, he predicts that by next week the situation will be resolved. "The word is that we're going to try and restart on Monday," he told TV Guide Online. "I'm sure it'll all work out." The show's creator, Aaron Sorkin, was singing a similar tune to The Associated Press. "We don't begin filming until Monday and I'm sure it will all be taken care of," he said. read more

Emmy Plays It Safe

Members of the Academy of Television Arts &#038 Sciences failed to heed TV Guide Online's "Be kind, please don't rewind" plea when it came to the 2001 Emmy nominations — announced early yesterday in Los Angeles. Instead of rewarding new or previously overlooked faves such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ed, Gilmore Girls and Once and Again, voters gave their seal of approval to perennial — and creatively shaky — Emmy darlings like ER, The Practice, Will & Grace and (yikes!) the now-dead 3rd Rock from the Sun!

"It's just really depressing to see the same people and programs nominated jus read more

Julianna Margulies: Action Hero

Julianna Margulies has a newfound respect for Mel Gibson after sword-fighting Saxons in TNT's two-part miniseries, The Mists of Avalon (airing July 15 and 16, 8 pm/ET). The ER alumna tells TV Guide Online that she was in awe of Braveheart "after doing the little bit that I did. It's incredible, but it's hard, and [director Uli Edel] gave me the confidence in myself to know that I could do it."

Thanks to Edel (Last Exit to Brooklyn), the 35-year-old actress says that she discovered her inner warrior while playing a Pagan priestess in this feminist retelling of the King Arthur legend (based on Marion Zimmer Bradley's novel). "My first time into battle I unders read more

Norton Scores Ringside Seat

Calling Edward Norton a method actor is a bigger understatement than saying CBS's Big Brother is boring. For his role as a white supremacist in American History X, the two-time Oscar nominee shaved his head and gained 30 pounds of muscle. To prepare for 1998's Rounders, the Yale grad competed in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. And for his latest film, the heist drama The Score (opening Friday), he got friendly with the LAPD to learn about cracking safes.

"I found some guys with the Burglary and Autotheft Unit and shadowed them for a month and a half," explains Norton, who plays Robert De Niro's partner in crime. "I had a little beeper, a read more

Reese Witherspoon's Heel Appeal

Who says blondes have more fun? Reese Witherspoon suffers for her art in Legally Blonde (opening tomorrow), in which a California sorority girl goes Harvard Law — but doesn't forego her flashy designer dresses and oh-so-high heels as she struts across the school's staid campus. Too bad the actress's fetching footwear cramped her style big-time.

"Seriously, I had a huge podiatrist's bill after making this movie," Witherspoon laughs. "I'm only 25 and I'm at the podiatrist having things shaved off my feet and [getting them] cracked. It was challenging!"

While her film aims to debunk the myth that all fair-haired females are brainless bimbos, Witherspoon admits she's contended with other types of prejudice as well. "I've had to deal with stereotypes just being Southern," the Nashville nativ read more

Brando and De Niro: Together at Last

Pop quiz: When is a run-of-the-mill heist flick not a run-of-the-mill heist flick? When said movie teams Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro for the first time. Still, Frank Oz — who directed the acting legends in The Score (opening Friday) — admits that he tried not to let the unprecedented casting coup distract him from his work.

"As the director, if you're looking at them saying, 'Oh, this is historic,' you're totally [expletive]," the filmmaker tells TV Guide Online. "Of course, I had a historical sense of the movie when we cast it. But when I actually got on the floor, I couldn't think that way because my job is to help them bring that scene aliv read more

The Mists of Avalon: For Girls Only?

Don't call TNT's The Mists of Avalon a chick flick in front of Anjelica Huston. The 50-year-old Oscar winner — who plays high priestess Viviane in the epic miniseries (airing July 15 and July 16, 8 pm/ET) — insists that the two-part female-slanted retelling of the Arthurian legend has "a lot of men, a lot of swords and a lot of sword battles."

Huston goes on to argue that "the men feature pretty strongly in this, so I wouldn't classify it as something that was entirely driven by women." Still, she does concede that the lavish, $20 million production — based on Marion Zimmer Bradley's novel — does put women "in the front seat rather than the back seat for once."

Like co-stars Julianna Margulies and Joan Allen, Huston read more

Ming-Na's Final Fantasy: Hot ER Romance

As a recent TV Guide cover story pointed out, NBC's ER survived its first full season sans both fan faves George Clooney and Julianna Margulies partly on the strength of its formidable roster of female talent. With that said, Ming-Na (who plays the medical drama's Dr. Jing-Mei Chen) looks forward to the added firepower of returning original castmember Sherry Stringfield (as Dr. Susan Lewis).

"I worked with Sherry during the first season, so it's really exciting," Ming-Na tells TV Guide Online. "Her character was so loved... It will be really good for the show."

Ah, but will it be good for Jing-Mei's love life? After all, as some root for romance between the headstrong beauty and Noah Wyle's Dr. Carter, the fact remains that, with leading man Anthony Edwards entering the last year of his contract, Carter seems a logical target for Stringfield's on-screen affections. "A read more

Roger Daltrey: Father Figure?

Roger Daltrey didn't invent the term "Sex, Drugs and Rock &#038 Roll," but as the lead singer of The Who — a band whose outrageous antics are the stuff of rock legend — he certainly helped perpetuate the genre's outlandish image. So it's a bit ironic to hear that he'll be playing, of all things, a man of the cloth on tonight's episode of TNT's new supernatural series Witchblade.

Daltrey guest stars as Father Aloysha Petrosian, a Catholic priest who gets caught in the crossfire over allegations that the Vatican and Nazis might have been allies during WWII. "It's a little controversial," Daltrey tells TV Guide Online. "There's quite a lot of evidence of their alleged knowledge of what the Nazis were doing — and they didn't decry it. It's pretty interesting."

Since making his big-screen debut as Tommy Walker — the deaf, dumb and blind kid who defeated the Pinball Wizard (played by Elton John) in The Who's 1975 rock read more

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