Today's News: Our Take


SEVEN-MONTH ITCH

After seven months of marriage, former Ally McBeal/Melrose Place star Courtney Thorne-Smith has separated from her hubby, scientist Andrew Conrad, Reuters reports. "Andy and I have mutually decided to separate," said the actress, whose June 2 nuptials are ironically featured in the current issue of In Style Weddings. "There are no third parties involved. We remain good friends and will share custody of our dogs." Last month, Thorne-Smith revealed in US Weekly that the pressure to be thin led her to quit Ally McBeal last season. "I started under-eating, over-exercising, pushing myself too hard and brutalizing my immune system," she said. "The amount of time I spent thinking about food and being upset and my body was insane." read more

Madness: The Final Frontier?


In space, nobody can hear you scream. But for fans of the offbeat sci-fi drama Farscape, rest assured that their distress signal has been received and relief, in the form of new episodes, is about to arrive.

"Poor John!" sighs series-lead Ben Browder, as he reflects on the fate awaiting his alter ego, stranger-in-a-strange-land John Crichton, when the last four installments of the second season begin airing tonight at 9 pm/ET on the Sci Fi Channel.

Since having his brain altered by leather-faced baddie Scorpious, Crichton has all but abandoned his quest to find a way back to Earth, favoring attempts to regain his sanity. "His journey into darkness started a long time ago, and that's a bold thing for the writing staff to do to [a] main character."

Whether or not Crichton gets his marbles back, many fans are hoping that by season's end he will finally utter those three all-important words to his favorite sparring partner, alien hottie Aeryn (Claudia Black read more

SHORT CUTS

Nick Nolte is in talks to star in Double Down, Neil Jordan's remake of the 1955 French film noir Bob Le Flambeur, Variety reports... Fox has renewed King of the Hill and Futurama for next season... The Beatles's 1966 album Revolver has topped VH-1's list of the 100 greatest albums in rock 'n' roll history. More than 500 journalists, music executives and artists were polled. — Michael Ausiello read more

DON'T TRUST INSTINCT

MGM reportedly is on the verge of taking an ice pic to Basic Instinct 2. According to Variety, the sequel to the hit 1992 thriller starring Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone was to begin rehearsals mid-February with Stone reprising her role as a psycho-novelist. But the film's backers can't seem to agree on a male lead (Douglas wanted no part of the follow-up) and the dispute is threatening to kill the project. Stone's spokesperson, Cindi Berger, insists that her client — who was to receive $15 million for her Basic work — is not throwing in the towel just yet. "As far as I know, Sharon has a deal to make this movie," she tells columnist Liz Smith. "She is away right now training for it. She is excited and ready to go." read more

VANILLA ICE JAILED

Rapper Vanilla Ice was arrested Wednesday following an apparent domestic dispute with his wife Laura, The Associated Press reports. Vanilla (aka Robert Van Winkle) — who was released on $3,500 bail after spending the night in a Florida jail — placed his hand over his wife's mouth "to shut her up" as they were driving in Davie, Fla., police said. The 32-year-old admitted to ripping out some of her hair, but insisted it was to keep her from jumping out of the truck's window. (Maybe he was threatening to play Ice Ice Baby.) read more

SURVIVOR WAR GETS UGLY

With its Thursday night line-up preparing for a face-off with CBS's Survivor: The Australian Outback beginning next month, NBC is pulling its weak freshman comedy, The Weber Show, off the air during February sweeps, Variety reports. Although the network has not named a replacement, there's talk that episodes of Frasier may follow Friends at 8:30 pm. Insiders were buzzing that viewers would watch Friends at 8 pm, and then flock to CBS at 8:30 to catch the second, more interesting half of Survivor (when the crucial votes are cast). But with NBC apparently prepared to pull out its big guns, TV's most hotly contested battle just got a lot more interesting. read more

A Who's Who of Survivor: The Australian Outback


They are moms and soldiers, aspiring actors and small-town teachers. But as of Thursday morning, they will forever be known as the contestants of Survivor: The Australian Outback. On CBS's The Early Show, the identities of the 16 contenders competing for the million-dollar jackpot in the deep river canyons and scorched-earth region of northeastern Australia were revealed to the world, and already standouts are emerging. The Early Show's Julie Chen and Mark McEwen both seemed to favor former cop/tough lady Maralyn Hershey. "She looks like the Rudy of this group," remarked Chen. "She seems like a survivor."

When the follow-up to the most successful summer series in TV history debuts on January 28 (following the Super Bowl), viewers will find the competitors split into two teams — the Ogakor and Kucha, named after aboriginal words for freshwater crocodile and kangaroo. Here are the names and backgrounds of each player, along wi read more

BYE GEORGE

George magazine — the monthly entertainment-politics hybrid founded by the late John Kennedy Jr. — will fold in March, Inside.com reports. Despite a 25 percent upkick in circulation last year, the magazine was still losing millions of dollars as a result of a softening advertising market. The February issue has been postponed and will be replaced with a special February/March commemorative edition, described as a tribute to Kennedy. read more

Katarina Witt Sounds Off on Divas


Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Katarina Witt, who's producing and starring in her second Divas on Ice special for NBC (Saturday 4 pm/ET), insists the world of figure skating is a much friendlier place than that depicted eight years ago in the notorious Tonya Harding&#150Nancy Kerrigan incident.

"That was the only one [of its kind], and it still stuck in people's minds," she tells TV Guide Online. Like most pro skaters, the German-born Witt isn't particularly comfortable discussing the rivalry that eventually led to Kerrigan getting her knee smashed by a hired thug. "[That] was really one thing that happened eight years ago, and it's time to get over with it. Basically, it's a very friendly environment. We love the sport, and most of us try to represent it in the right way."

Kerrigan will be among the skaters joining Witt on the Divas special, which also will feature performances by Ekatarina Gordeeva, Surya Bonaly, Nic read more

SANTA'S NOT COMING THIS YEAR

Disney has postponed production of its sequel to 1994's The Santa Clause due to script problems. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the follow-up to the hit Tim Allen film was slated to go before the cameras in the spring for a November release. But the delay now leaves the studio without one of its major holiday films this year. read more

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