Today's News: Our Take


HARRIS PLAYS MIND GAME

Ed Harris has been cast opposite Russell Crowe in the Ron Howard-directed fact-based drama A Beautiful Mind, Variety reports. Crowe plays real-life figure John Nash, a paranoid-schizophrenic who wins a Nobel Prize for his work on game theory. Harris, meanwhile, will portray a high-ranking intelligence officer. read more

COUNTRY SINGER AILING

Grammy-winning country crooner Freddy Fender has hepatitis C and is in need of liver and kidney transplants, Reuters reports. The 63-year-old Texas native — best known for his hits "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" and "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" — has already begun dialysis treatments. read more

SURVIVOR EXEC'S LATEST MISSION

Survivor executive producer Mark Burnett will try to stretch the limits of reality TV even further with USA Network's Combat Missions, Variety reports. The series will feature current and former members of the U.S. military's elite combat units who will live on a secret base and compete in fictional missions. Burnett, who was once a member of a British parachuting unit, says the 15-episode series will focus both on the action of the urban battlefield and on the personal dramas of the contestants' daily lives. read more

Jones and Ingels Reunite


Estranged Hollywood couple Shirley Jones and funnyman Marty Ingels are getting back together. "We've worked it out," Ingels tells TV Guide Online. "Instead of giving the money to a lawyer, we decided to give it to a brilliant therapist."

The unlikely duo is wrapping up their six-month trial separation, and Ingels says he and TV's Partridge Family mom will be reunited in their Beverly Hills home by the end of the month. He also reveals that he's going to surprise his wife with a $3,000 bicycle-built-for-two with a fringed top — a nod to Jones's role in the movie classic Oklahoma!, which featured the hit song "Surrey with the Fringe on Top."

Ingels adds that they plan to celebrate their on-again, off-again 25-year relationship by inviting friends and family to a big party in January. That same month, the couple also will conduct a paid lecture on marriage — accompanied by therapist Ron Podell — through The Learning Tree in Los read more

Glenn Close Doesn't Bite


Some in Hollywood are mistaking Glenn Close for her 102 Dalmatians character Cruella De Vil. The five-time Oscar nominee — whose sequel to Disney's live action smash 101 Dalmatians opens tomorrow — admits she's shocked that there are actors scared to work with her.

"I don't think of myself as an intimidating person at all, but I guess I can be in other people's minds," Close tells TV Guide Online. "I [recently filmed the TV movie] South Pacific, and [co-star] Harry Connick Jr. told me that he couldn't sleep the night before we had our first scene. It was so sweet, [but] it makes me feel a little weird.

"I have had a lot of experience," the 53-year-old film and theater vet recognizes. "I've learned tremendously. I've learned my craft. You don't know how much you've learned until you're in there and something comes up and you have an opinion and you're informed and you can articulate it. I'm proud of surviving in this profession. I read more

SHORT CUTS

Production is slated to begin June 4 on Men in Black 2, Variety reports... Spin magazine has named controversial rapper Eminem its artist of the year. — Michael Ausiello with Sabrina Rojas Weiss read more

Grade-A B-Movie Stages a Comeback


A few more folks probably are looking forward to the next Star Wars installment than a follow-up to the 1984 sci-fi comedy/thriller Night of the Comet. But writer-director Thom Eberhardt still is considering making a sequel to his cult classic, about a couple of Valley girls thrust into combat when Halley's Comet transforms Earth's population into zombies.

"There was always talk about doing another one — or even a series," he tells TV Guide Online. "Two years ago, Fox Family Channel — having decided that volcanoes and avalanches were excellent family fare — was running out of disasters. So I pitched them one of the few that they hadn't yet done.

"But they had a better idea — a remake of Night of the Comet," he continues. "I asked if its writer-director might have a deal concerning remakes, and they said, 'Whoever he is, we can buy him off.' They were embarrassed when I revealed myself as that very writer-director. However, I a read more

BOY BAND WAR HEATS UP

The ballots haven't even been counted and already 'N Sync is conceding defeat. Band member Lance Bass is predicting that the Backstreet Boys's latest album, Black & Blue (in stores today), will break the record his group set last March when No Strings Attached sold 2.41 million copies during its first week out. "They will break the record. I mean... The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year," Bass told The Toronto Sun. "It doesn't bother us. We were surprised that [No Strings Attached] broke their record (1.13 million of BSB's 1999 album Millennium in its first week). But I think people focus too much on that." Well, you don't have to get snippy about it. read more

GRIFFITH GOES HOME

Melanie Griffith left the Daniel Freeman Hospital outside Los Angeles over the weekend where she was undergoing treatment for an addiction to a prescribed medication. "I am home with my family now, after what was a rough eight days," the actress said in a message posted on her Web site. "I will tell you my story in due time, but right now my family needs me, and I need them." Griffith is married to actor Antonio Banderas. read more

O'DONNELL TO SIGN OFF?

Magazine mogul Rosie O'Donnell, who will spearhead the launch of the newly christened Rosie's McCall's next year, told Today host Katie Couric on Friday that she was "leaning towards" quitting her talk show when her current contract expires this spring. However, when Couric prodded, "Why don't you just say, 'I'm not going to do it'? Then you'd really make news this morning," O'Donnell replied: "All right, I'm not going to do it." An official announcement is expected in January. read more

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