Today's News: Our Take


EMINEM OFF THE HOOK

Eminem (aka Marshall Mathers III) has been sentenced to two years probation for carrying a concealed weapon, Reuters reports. The controversial rapper initially faced up to five years behind bars after he pled guilty to pistol-whipping a man who kissed his estranged wife, Kim Mathers, outside of a Detroit club. "I consider probation to be punishment," said Eminem's judge, Antonio Viviano. "I don't think it's a lark, and I don't think it's a slap on the wrist." No doubt breathing a sigh of relief, Eminem said: "I'm just glad to get this over with, to get this behind me and spend time with my little girl and make music." read more

FABULOUS NEWS

The hit British comedy series Absolutely Fabulous — which was broadcast in the U.S. on cable's Comedy Central — is returning to the airwaves after a five-year absence with six new episodes. The original cast — including stars Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders — will reprise their roles for the BBC production, which begins filming this month. The new installments are slated to debut on Comedy Central in November. read more

Uphill Battle for Jack &#038 Jill


Tomorrow night, Jack &#038 Jill closes out its sophomore season on the WB with a possible wedding between the show's title characters (played by Ivan Sergei and Amanda Peet). But if the couple actually make it down the aisle, their honeymoon could be a short-lived affair: Insiders speculate that the buzz-starved series will fetch a cancellation notice from the network.

As part of the WB's unique programming strategy, Jack &#038 Jill moved into Felicity's Wednesday night timeslot in January — kicking off 13 weeks of consecutive original episodes. However, J&#038J failed to capitalize on the impressive ratings gains made by the resurgent college dramedy — which returns next week with the first of six all-new installments. As a result, "it's got less a shot [at being renewed] than Felicity does," points out Stace read more

Jada Gears Up for Matrix


Jada Pinkett-Smith, 29, faced a fitness challenge not shared by Keanu Reeves and company while prepping for her strenuous role in the upcoming Matrix sequels: The actress recently gave birth to her second child — daughter Willow Camille Reign Smith — with hubby Will Smith.

"I'm still breast-feeding, which made it a little harder to get in shape," she tells TV Guide Online with a chuckle. "But I was ready to lose some weight, so it was great to get physical. I'm getting pretty good at kung fu."

Considering the level of secrecy surrounding the two new Matrix pics — which are being filmed back-to-back — Pinkett-Smith has been forbidden from revealing much about the plot. "I play a kick-ass chick and I'm really digging her," she previews. "She's very tight with Laurence Fishburne, but that's all I can tell you."

Pinkett-Smith — who recently completed a small role opposite her better half in the Muh read more

SHORT CUTS

'N Sync's Justin Timberlake has signed a seven-figure contract with Ballantine Books to pen his first novel, called Crossover Dribble, columnist Liz Smith reports... The Writers Guild of America and Hollywood producers will return to the bargaining table on April 17 to try and avert a crippling writers strike. — Michael Ausiello with Daniel R. Coleridge read more

FOX OTHERWISE ENGAGED

Michael J. Fox is returning to the small screen — but just behind-the-scenes. The Emmy-winning actor — who left ABC's Spin City last season to focus on his battle against Parkinson's disease — is developing a new comedy series for Lifetime, Variety reports. Fox would serve as executive producer of the project, described as a quirky romantic comedy that tracks a couple from their engagement through married life. It's based on Suzanne Finnamore's book Otherwise Engaged. The series could launch as early as 2002. read more

SWING AND MINGLE

Joe and Harry Gantz — producers of HBO's racy Taxicab Confessions — have sealed a $1.1 million deal with Showtime to make a spicy documentary about swingers, Variety reports. Their Sex with Strangers — which may be released in movie theaters after its June 30 TV premiere — follows three randy middle-class couples who switch sexual partners every now and then to keep life interesting. read more

CALL OF THE WILD

Tossing its hat into the reality ring, the WB begins production on the wilderness adventure series No Boundaries this July. Produced by Brady Connell — who worked under über-producer Mark Burnett on Survivor and Eco-Challenge — the show will have players competing in everything from sea kayaking to dog sledding in hopes of winning cash and a new SUV. Any masochists hoping to become contestants have until April 30 to apply on the WB's website. "You don't need to be able to run a marathon or have extensive adventure sports training," offers Connell. "Teamwork and leadership will be the qualities that win this competition." read more

ONE-WOMAN SHOW

Clearly not taking a lengthy maternity leave since giving birth to her son, The Practice's Camryn Manheim has forged what may be a seven-figure movie deal, Variety reports. Based on Manheim's own setside experiences, the flick, titled The Extra, concerns a wacky extra who wrecks a movie star's life by tattling to the tabloids. read more

BOOT BROUHAHA

CBS and the producers of Survivor are suing Fox claiming its new reality series, Boot Camp, is a blatant rip-off of its top-rated phenom. According to Variety, the suit alleges that Boot Camp copies significant elements of Survivor, including the concept of having the contestants decide who gets voted out each week. "This is a serious attempt to stop anyone, both now and in the future, from ripping off the family jewels," a CBS insider told the trade paper. read more

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