Today's News: Our Take


NOT YET BROKEN UP

Britney Spears is still with her boyfriend, 'N Sync singer Justin Timberlake, despite some fast-flying rumors that the two have split. Spears was reportedly spotted drowning her sorrows in Los Angeles last week. "No, that's not true. Me and Justin did not split up," the pop princess told MTV Europe. read more

CAUGHT ON TAPE

Despite police allegations that Winona Ryder tried to steal about $4,800 worth of merchandise from Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills last year, Extra has uncovered security video that may prove otherwise. According to a story running tonight, the surveillance tape does not show Ryder removing sensor tags from clothing as the police originally claimed. The Girl, Interrupted star recently pleaded innocent to the charges of shoplifting and drug possession. read more

Tom Arnold on the Hot Seat


Things are looking up for Tom Arnold. Just two years ago, the comedian — whose marriage (and subsequent divorce) to onetime sitcom queen Roseanne earned him a place in the National Punchline Hall of Fame — was battling one helluva midlife crisis: His career was in the dumpster (check out Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th) and his personal life, a joke (Remember MarryTom.com?).

Cut to 2002: Arnold has a steady gig (on Fox Sports Net's Best Damn Sports Show Period) and is in love again (with political consultant Shelby Roos). Even the public seems to be rooting for the erstwhile Jackie Thomas: A recent TV Guide Online poll found that only 5 percent of readers wanted to see Arnold follow Lance Bass into outer space. (Hey, read more

GOODBYE SALLY

Grab a Kleenex, kids. This July, talk show veteran Sally Jessy Raphael hangs up her trademark red-rimmed glasses for good: After two decades in daytime, Studios USA has cancelled her chatfest due to lousy ratings. (In the past three years, Sally's slipped from No. 3 behind Oprah and Jerry Springer down to last place at No. 9.) "I am proud that we were able to help so many guests and viewers find solutions to their problems and comfort in their lives," she said in a statement. "I am also proud to have created the production formats that most talk shows now use. I've been on television for 46 years, which must be a record." Brava to Sally for bowing out with class. read more

90210 STARS GET RELOCATED

Tori Spelling and Tiffani Thiessen have both been cast in fall pilots, according to Variety. Spelling signed on for a new female buddy comedy called Way Downtown for the WB and Thiessen will be starring opposite Bill Bellamy (of this year's flop Men, Women and Dogs) in the action series Fast Lane for Fox. read more

IN COURT

Talk show host Jerry Springer may have to appear in court regarding a murder case stemming from an episode of his program that dealt with secret mistresses. The trial of Ralf Panitz, who allegedly beat and stomped ex-wife Nancy Campbell-Panitz to death, began Monday. read more

LETTERMAN STAYS AT CBS

It's official: Late Show host David Letterman has decided to stay with CBS and not jump ship to ABC. Sources tell TV Guide Online that Dave signed a five-year contract with the Eye, with options to exit sooner if he so chooses. On Monday night's show, he joked: "CBS, all of a sudden, they can't kiss up to me enough — it's crazy. I finally got a get-well card for my bypass surgery two years ago... When I drop dead, there won't be this much press." More seriously, he expressed regret for the Damoclean sword that hung over newsman Ted Koppel's head during negotiations — ABC now confirms Nightline will stay put. "He is one of a very small group that represents the highest echelon of broadcast achievement, without question," Letterman said. "He, at the very least, deserves the right to determine his own professional future." read more

SHORT CUTS

Laura Dern will play a newly-minted poet laureate of the United States on the March 28 episode of The West Wing... Elton John will be the guest of honor on a special hour-long edition of Last Call with Carson Daly on March 29... Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellen will host the March 16 episode of Saturday Night Live. Pop singer Kylie Minogue will be the musical guest... Wes Scantlin, lead singer of the rising rock group Puddle of Mudd, was arrested on Sunday for fighting with his fianc&#233e. — Angel Cohn, Michael Ausiello, and Daniel R. Coleridge read more

Question: I was a big Lost in ...

Question: I was a big Lost in Space fan as a kid. Watching reruns, I realized there was a big difference between the evil Dr. Smith from the first episodes and the funny Dr. Smith who came along later. What was the deal with that? — Kevin L., Honolulu, Hawaii

Televisionary: Elementary, you lugubrious lump... you pusillanimous pinhead! (Sorry, my inner Smith got the best of me there, Kevin.)

The simple answer is the one behind so many developments on your favorite shows, both old and new — ratings. As the story goes, actor Jonathan Harris, who played the no-good doctor, and the powers-that-be behind the show, one of many from legendary producer Irwin Allen, realized early on that the truly evil Dr. Smith would wear thin in no time. So though the character was merely sinister when the series launched on CBS in September 1965 — it was his sabotage that got all of them lost in the first place — read more

PROUD PARENTS

Odd couple Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton became parents this weekend, when they adopted a baby boy from Cambodia. Jolie received custody of their son Sunday while working on her latest film in Africa. This is their first child together; Thornton has three children from previous marriages. read more

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