Today's News: Our Take


FREAKY FAN

A New Jersey judge has reinstated Whitney Houston's temporary restraining order against obsessed fan Desiree Weeks, 33, Reuters reports. Since August 1999, Weeks — who's currently sequestered in a psychiatric hospital — has sent disturbing letters and gifts to the pop star, whom she calls her "supernatural reincarnated mother." read more

Survivor Slay Victim: It Could've Been Babe


It's been nearly two weeks, and animal lovers are still fuming over the Feb. 15 episode of CBS's Survivor: The Australian Outback that featured contestant Michael Skupin butchering a wild pig and then triumphantly wiping its blood on his face. And no one is more worked up about the carnage than the man responsible for rescuing the world's most beloved piglet, Babe.

"I was appalled, outraged and disgusted," sighs James Cromwell, who received an Oscar nomination for his role as a gentle farmer who takes in an orphaned pig in the 1995 classic Babe. "I'm writing a letter expressing my objections and giving it to the Humane Society to use for whatever purposes they want."

Cromwell — a vegetarian and a vocal animal rights advocate — is particularly incensed by a CBS statement that defended the bloodshed as nothing more than an act of nature. "We firmly believe that our viewers recognize that hunting and fishing as a means of sustenance ha read more

Gandolfini Married to the Mob


Sopranos godfather James Gandolfini says that the third season of his hit HBO mob drama — kicking off Sunday at 9 pm/ET — will focus more on family matters than mob intrigue. "It's about parenting, a lot about parenting," he teases. "That's what you're going to get."

And two days before The Sopranos' highly anticipated return, what moviegoers will get is a glimpse of Gandolfini in his new film, The Mexican. The comedic caper — in which he kidnaps Julia Roberts from the loving arms of Brad Pitt — has the Emmy winner again playing the role of a thug. However, he explains that Leroy is much more in touch with his sensitive side (read: gay) than Tony Soprano. "I wanted to do something a little different," he says. "I needed a change. I thought I was going to start thinking I was Tony Soprano."

As for the controversy surrounding The Sopranos' portrayal of Italian-Americans, Gandolfini shrugs, "I k read more

GRACE GETS WOODY

Former Cheers actor Woody Harrelson will guest star on four episodes of Will &#038 Grace to air during May sweeps. He'll play Nathan, a slovenly neighbor whose rude manners irk Grace (Debra Messing) — until the wily redhead glimpses his secret romantic side. read more

NEW JACKASS WARNING

MTV has quietly changed the disclaimer for its controversial series Jackass after a 13-year-old boy — mimicking a stunt from the show — set himself on fire. Additionally, the network has begun airing the program an hour later, at 10 pm/ET. According to the Los Angeles Times, the new warning alerts viewers to the dangers of copying stunts performed on the show. read more

A FRIEND IN NEED

Troubled Friends star Matthew Perry, 32, checked himself into a rehab facility Friday on the advice of his doctors. Though his spokesperson, Lisa Kasteler, declined to name Perry's malady, rumors of drug problems continue to haunt the actor. "Matthew has every intention of completing his treatment so that he can continue his dream of entertaining people and making them laugh," Kasteler said. "He appreciates everyone's concern and thanks them for respecting his privacy." In 1997, Perry was treated for an addiction to painkillers. read more

CBS LOVES RAYMOND

CBS will pay upwards of $140 million for two more years of Everybody Loves Raymond, Variety reports. The deal — which keeps the TV Guide Award-winning sitcom on CBS's schedule through the 2002-03 television season — calls for the network to shell out slightly less than $3 million an episode. read more

FAT CHANCE

Bill Cosby is bringing Fat Albert to the big screen. According to The Associated Press, the funnyman is turning his popular Saturday morning cartoon — which ran from 1972 to 1984 — into a live-action film. Cosby is penning the screenplay with writing partner Charles Kipps, but it's unclear whether the sitcom star will also play a role in the movie. read more

REUNITED

Elton John and rapper Eminem reunited at Monday's Brit Awards for the first time since the duo performed together at the Grammys last week. John presented the rapper with the Best International Male Artist prize at Britain's most prestigious music awards. "And the winner is... Steely Dan," Eminem joked after receiving the trophy, a reference to losing the Album of the Year Grammy to the music vets. Fresh off her Grammy shut-out, Madonna was named Best International Female Artist. U2, meanwhile, were chosen Best International Group. read more

SHORT CUTS

The first part of ABC's acclaimed miniseries Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows attracted 20.3 million viewers Sunday night — the largest audience for any TV movie this season. Meanwhile, Fox was celebrating the best ratings in a year for both The X-Files and Malcolm in the Middle... ABC will present a "Classic TV Star Edition" of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire the week of March 18, featuring Melissa Gilbert (Little House on the Prairie), Sherman Hemsley (The Jeffersons), Valerie Bertinelli (One Day at a Time), Adam West (Batman), Marion Ross (Happy Days), Kim Fields (The Facts of Life), Danny Bonaduce (The Partridge Family), Cindy Williams (Laverne &#038 Shirley), Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch) and Ted Lange (The Love Boat). — Michael Ausiello with Daniel R. Coleridge read more

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