Today's News: Our Take


LIVE WIRE

As expected, Regis Philbin named 31-year-old All My Children star Kelly Ripa as his new sparring partner on this morning's Live with Regis. Her appointment takes effect next Monday, when the show will be retitled Live with Regis &#038 Kelly. "She's here and she ain't leaving," Philbin joked as he made the announcement alongside Ripa, who succeeds Kathie Lee Gifford. Like Philbin, who commutes between Live and ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Ripa will juggle AMC (also an ABC show) with her new day job. "I think it's an ABC policy that you must work two jobs," Ripa cracked. Added Philbin: "Between the two of us, we've got 40 percent of the schedule covered. If we go down, ABC is over." read more

Inside the Mind of James Lipton


It's going to take more than a little public mockery to get James Lipton to loosen up. The offbeat and seemingly uptight host of Bravo's signature series, Inside the Actors Studio — who has become one of comedian Will Ferrell's most popular parody subjects on Saturday Night Live — insists he couldn't change his interview style if his love of acting depended on it.

"I know I'm a bit solemn," admits the drama professor, whose college seminars began airing on Bravo in 1995. "My wife says to me, 'For Chrissake, smile!' But it's not the kind of person I am. The thing that the press has to realize is that I am not there as a journalist. There's no gossip... there's no ambush... there's no attempt to trick somebody into revealing themselves.

"I find that staying focused on the craft [of acting], we have literally blown the door off the hinges to the most intimate moments."

During the past seven seasons, Lipton has played host to some of th read more

SURVIVOR WINS ROUND ONE

The Great TV Battle of 2001 got underway Thursday night and Survivor: The Australian Outback has taken an early lead. The second episode of CBS's reality phenom — featuring Kel's swan song — attracted 29.4 million viewers, compared to 22 million for the expanded Friends. Despite the loss, NBC's top-rated sitcom held up much better than expected, say insiders. In fact, despite Survivor and a strong performance by CBS's relocated C.S.I., NBC — powered by Will & Grace and ER — managed to win the night overall. "I don't begrudge anybody else success as long as we have success," Jeff Zucker, NBC's entertainment president, told The Associated Press. "The institution of read more

DUDE GAL GETS ALIAS

Jennifer Garner of Dude, Where's My Car? fame has been cast as the lead in Alias, the ABC pilot from Felicity co-creator and executive producer J.J. Abrams. Garner will play a young spy who leads a double life. read more

LIVE LEAK?

Speculation is intensifying that Regis Philbin will name his new Live co-host Monday, and as reported yesterday, the smart money is on All My Children actress Kelly Ripa winning the coveted gig. Adding fuel to the fire: The New York Post reports that Live's producer, Disney, has obtained the rights to a new Web site domain named livewithregisandkelly.com. Disney reportedly officially registered the Web site name on Jan. 10. read more

DOWNEY RETURNS

Robert Downey Jr. was back to work on the set of Fox's Ally McBeal this week to tape an additional episode, although the actor's rep told the Los Angeles Times that there was no "official... commitment" that he will stick around longer. On Monday, the Golden Globe winner was given until Feb. 21 to iron out a plea bargain on drug charges stemming from his Thanksgiving weekend arrest in Palm Springs. read more

Can Angel Fly Solo?


With the WB's Angel already facing some stiff competition from Fox's similarly appealing Dark Angel this season, it would seem the last thing the dark drama needs is to lose its potent lead-in, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But David Boreanaz doesn't feel Buffy's possible switch to another network next fall will slay his spin-off series.

"We're confident Angel can stand on its own," he insists. "In the beginning, you need the love and support from where you came from. For the first six episodes, [the Buffy/Angel crossovers were] a needed correspondence; it was a nice dance to have. We're a young show, but Buffy didn't get going until its third season."

With negotiations between 20th Century Fox (the studio behind Buffy) and the WB said to be tense, Boreanaz is being careful not to follow in the footsteps of Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar and make any read more

Dixie Carter Tames the Cry-Baby Within


Like everyone else, former Designing Women star Dixie Carter has to wait until Monday evening at 7 pm/ET to see Lifetime's Intimate Portrait: Dixie Carter. And although she's beside herself with anticipation, the Southern belle admits a part of her is afraid to tune in.

"I hope it didn't have a lot of pictures of me crying my eyes out," she tells TV Guide Online. "When I think about my home and my family, it usually makes me cry, so I don't know how much of that I did during those very long interviews. Hopefully, I had the discipline to keep from boo-hooing too much."

Chances are, Carter will have a harder time keeping the floodgates closed while watching the hour-long trip down memory lane. In addition to chronicling every aspect of her impressive career — including her early days as a singer, a stint on The Edge of Night, and her current gig as eccentric attorney Randi King on CBS's Fa read more

OLDER FREAKS AND GEEKS

ABC has ordered a comedy pilot from Freaks and Geeks executive producer Judd Apatow, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The as-yet-untitled project is being described as a semiautobiographical comedy that centers on two aspiring twentysomething writers-actors-comedians trying to make sense of their post-college lives. read more

NBC STRIKES WHILE IRON IS HOT

Law & Order creator Dick Wolf inked a 13-episode deal with NBC for an unscripted prime-time drama described as L.A. Law meets The Real World. According to Variety, Trial and Error will follow the professional and personal lives of five first-year assistant district attorneys. And with no scripts or actors, Trial and Error — which is slated for next season — will be unaffected by the impending actors and writers strikes. read more

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