Today's News: Our Take


Two 14-year-old girls who were sprayed with excrement during a taping of the MTV pilot Dude, This Sucks are suing the network. According to Reuters, Monique Garcia and Kelli Sloat said they were invited to stand near the stage during the show — taped last January in Big Bear, a mountain community outside of Los Angeles — with no warning that two men calling themselves the "Shower Rangers" were about to defecate on them. "All of a sudden I was smelling something disgusting and I started to gag," Garcia said. "I looked around at my friends. They were covered in something. As I looked down at myself I realized that I was, too." Brian Graden, MTV's president of programming, apologized and vowed that the footage would never air. read more


A month after a Spider-Man crewmember was killed in the line of duty, another accident has rocked the production. Zack Hudson, stunt double to Tobey Maguire (aka Spider-Man), broke his leg Tuesday while filming a scene in which he reportedly crashes through a brick wall. Meanwhile, four Spider-Man costumes designed for Maguire have disappeared from the film's Los Angeles set, and Columbia Pictures is offering a $25,000 reward for their safe return. read more


CBS News anchor Dan Rather has apologized for serving as a guest speaker at a Democratic Party fundraiser co-hosted by his daughter, Robin Rather, in March. "I made an embarrassing and regrettable error in judgement by going to this event," he said. "It was a serious mistake, which I acknowledge." Rather's participation in the gathering — which according to The Washington Post raised $20,000 — was in violation of CBS News's ethical standards. read more


Though his NBC dramedy, First Years, was just cancelled after only three airings, Facts of Life alum Mackenzie Astin already is bouncing back with a new gig. TV Guide Online has learned that Patty Duke's scion will play the lead role in a new, as-yet-untitled comedy co-starring Tiffani Thiessen. Produced by Steve Koren (Seinfeld), the show features Astin as a psychology grad student working on a thesis with comely coed Thiessen. Next week, Astin begins filming the pilot, which will be considered for inclusion on the Peacock net's Fall schedule. read more


Fox has renewed its Tuesday-night sitcom Titus, starring comic Christopher Titus, for a third season... 3rd Rock from the Sun's one-hour series finale — featuring an appearance by Elvis Costello — will air on May 22 (8 pm/ET)... Based on the continuing strong performance of its new Damon Wayans sitcom, My Wife and Kids, ABC will continue to air back-to-back episodes of the series on Wednesdays at 8 pm/ET through April 25... The debut of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone's new political satire, That's My Bush!, scored the highest ratings for a season premiere in Comedy Central's 10-year history... NBC has ordered six episodes of the reality series Lost, in which teams of contestants are dropped off in the middle of nowhere and have to find their way back to the Statue of Liberty, according to read more


Call him the poor man's Gervase. Nick Brown, the 23-year-old sickly Harvard Law School student who earned a rep for being lazy (not to mention boring), was the latest castaway voted off of Survivor: The Australian Outback. Appearing on CBS's The Early Show this morning, Brown insisted that he wasn't the sluggard the show's editors made him out to be. "I will admit, I didn't fish," acknowledged the former Outbacker, who said he lost 20 pounds during his 30-day adventure. "But when they showed us building the shelter, they act like I just sat there and did nothing. They didn't show me dragging big bags of sand, they didn't show me getting branches... They don't show you everything." For an episode recap, click here. read more


Keanu Reeves's ex-girlfriend, actress Jennifer Syme, has died in a car crash in Los Angeles. According to an investigator at the L.A. County Coroner's Office, Reeves called offering to identify the 28-year-old Syme's body, but was informed she'd already been ID'd using her driver's license. Reeves and Syme — who appeared in David Lynch's 1997 film, Lost Highway — reportedly broke up last year. read more

Survivor's Witch Reunites with Colby

Survivor's diva from Down Under, Jerri Manthey, has an ultimatum for her 26-year-old Barramundi boy toy, Colby Donaldson: Any hope of a reconciliation rests squarely on his broad shoulders. "He's going to have to be the one to approach me if he wants to reconcile stuff," she tells TV Guide Online. "Otherwise, I'll just move on."

Manthey's indifference stems from recent Survivor episodes in which Donaldson revealed — via on-air confessionals — his true feelings for her. "I was a little bit hurt by some of the stuff he said," she sighs. "I thought some of it was kind of unnecessary, [like] when he said, 'Jerri doesn't deserve to win if for nothing less than the way she's treated people.' I don't know where that came from. Somebody got in his head."

The 30-year-old aspiring actress — whose flirtatious relationship with the Texas-based auto designer injected the sex-starved series with some much-needed spice — admits, howev read more


TV's most popular mafioso, Tony Soprano, has a new foe: An Italian-American legal group has filed a defamation suit against Time Warner, which produces HBO's The Sopranos. Based in Chicago, the American Italian Defense Association contends that the mob drama "suggests that criminality is in the blood or in the genes of Italian-Americans and that Italians as early immigrants to this country had little opportunity, other than to turn to crime." Seeking no cash judgment, the group hopes to make a statement — by having a court declare that The Sopranos's content violates the Illinois constitution's guarantee of individual dignity. read more

American High Drama

Survivor isn't the only reality series vulnerable to controversy. A student from American High — relaunched on PBS last night after a brief four-episode run back in August on Fox — is charging that the show "poorly portrayed" her as a clingy girlfriend whose life revolved around a guy. Now, High's "principal," executive producer R.J. Cutler, is responding to the flak.

In this week's TV Guide, 18-year-old High star Sarah — who in the show's initial episodes was seen doting over beau Robby — was quoted as saying she got "torn apart by the media" as a result of Cutler's depiction of her. (The couple have since graduated and broken up.)

"There's a tendency [for the press] to boil the kids down to labels," Cutler tells TV Guide Online. "Bad-boy Morgan, Jock-with-a-soul Robby, Dependent-girlfriend Sarah. And it was heartbreaking for her to be called [that].

"But Sarah is not por read more

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