Today's News: Our Take


THE GRINCH STILL RULES

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas was the most popular movie at the box office for the fourth consecutive weekend, grossing another $18.5 million for a 24-day total of $195.5 million. The Jim Carrey comedy held off high-profile newcomers Vertical Limit (No. 2 with $16 million), Proof of Life (No. 3 with $10.4 million) and Dungeons & Dragons (No. 5 with $7 million). Insiders naturally are blaming Proof's disappointing gross on the hoopla surrounding the real-life romance of its stars, Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe. read more

MALCOLM... THE MOVIE

Fox's smash sitcom Malcolm in the Middle is headed to the big screen. According to Variety, 20th Century Fox is moving forward on a movie version of the Emmy-winning comedy, now in its second year. Series creator Linwood Boomer will write the script along with Jill Condon and Amy Toomin (co-executive producers of ABC's The Geena Davis Show). All of the show's stars are expected to take part. read more

UPN PLANS MANHUNT

UPN is said to be very close to signing a deal with the World Wrestling Federation for a new reality show, Manhunt, that will pit wrestler-type characters against contestants in a predator vs. prey competition. According to Broadcasting & Cable, the Manhunt predators will use laser guns to tag contestants on the Hawaii-based series. If all goes according to plan, the series will debut in the spring.

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Marlon's Gas Crisis


Despite his energetic on-screen performance in Dungeons &#038 Dragons (opening today), funnyman Marlon Wayans tells TV Guide Online he was secretly battling killer jetlag and lots of, er, intestinal gas during the making of the sci-fi pic.

"It was those damn cappuccinos," he says in defense of his flatulence on the set. "I was drinking them because I had to stay up. And, c'mon, you know how plane food is. All that flying messed up my insides."

No excuse is good enough for on-screen partner Justin Whalin, who had to spend three days tied up with Wayans as part of the movie's adventure plot. Recalls the actor: "He'd look at me and go, 'I'm feeling nervous. Dragons make me scared.' There'd be this odor — and I was tied up with him! Let me tell you, man, it smelled bad!"

Wayans, a hot property in Hollywood since Scary Movie became one of last summer's biggest hits, isn't kidding about the jetlag. The actor was already at work on t read more

CSI's Foxy Lady


Through its exploration of anal swabs and poisoned nipples, CSI: Crime Street Investigation — the CBS drama that has been described as Quincy meets Seven — has quickly become one of this season's biggest hits. A large part of the show's success can be chalked up to its stomach-churning shock value, an element that required its plucky cast — including actress Jorja Fox — to develop an extra layer of thick skin.

"I get nauseous just thinking about some of the things I've seen on the set," Fox laughingly tells TV Guide Online. "We recently did an episode in the woods where we come across a murder victim covered with bugs — real ones. Generally, I'm not very squeamish, but there were thousands of them, including the ones you don't normally see, like maggots. It was intense.

"To be honest," she adds, "in the beginning, I had to ask myself if I could handle working on this read more

District Makes Smart Move


Viewers of CBS's hit drama The District have heard Craig T. Nelson's character, Jack Mannion, tell tales of his ex-wife, Sherry. Well, on Saturday's episode, they will be able to put a familiar face with the name: Former Designing Women star Jean Smart makes her first appearance as the fiery redhead, and as she explains, sparks will fly.

"Jack was a high maintenance husband, but unfortunately, incredibly bright and charming and brave and handsome and all that stuff," Smart laughs. "So she has a hard time staying unmarried to him. But she's trying real hard. When she sees him, it's really hard to keep him at arm's length.

"It's fun because they set up my character really well," she continues. "He's still madly in love with her, he knows he's going to get her back and all of this stuff. And he refuses to believe that she actually has another life of her own."

Smart — who won an Emmy in Septe read more

MICHAEL RICHARDS GETS THE AXE

It had to happen sooner or later: NBC plans to pull the plug on the struggling sitcom The Michael Richards Show after three more episodes. Richards, who enjoyed enormous success as Seinfeld's Kramer, simply couldn't hold audiences with his goofy turn as bumbling private detective Vic Nardozza. Mid-season replacement Three Sisters — an ensemble comedy featuring Dyan Cannon — joins NBC's revamped Tuesday lineup in the slot starting on Jan. 9.

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AZARIA TO REPLACE DOWNEY?

Funnyman Hank Azaria's reportedly in line to replace troubled actor Robert Downey Jr. as Catherine Zeta-Jones's love interest in the upcoming big-screen comedy America's Sweethearts. Downey had signed to begin work on the movie by Jan. 11, but his recent arrest for both drug possession and being under the influence of a controlled substance appears to have put him out of the running for the pic.

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MOON UNIT THREATENED

A California man was arrested on Thursday for threatening to kill Moon Unit Zappa because he believed that she and her late father, hippie rocker Frank, stole the lyrics to their 1982 hit song "Valley Girl" from him. Timothy Mark Brownfield, 40, tipped himself off to the FBI by allegedly sending them creepy letters outlining his diabolical plan, according to Reuters. If convicted, he faces five years in federal prison.

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SHORT CUTS

Madonna and film director beau Guy Ritchie are eyeing a Buddhist wedding ceremony, reports London's The Sun... Richard Gere's set to play a man with a potentially terminal disease in Steinbeck's Point of View, according to Variety. In other casting news, rocker Courtney Love will play former silent movie star Texas Guinan in Hello Suckers... Werner Klemperer, the former Jewish refugee who went on to play German prison camp commandant Col. Klink on the popular '60s sitcom Hogan's Heroes, died of cancer at his home in New York on Wednesday. He was 80... Who Wants to Be a Millionaire moves from Tuesday to Friday nights beginning on Jan. 5 to make way for the Jan. 9 debut of the new ABC reality series, Who Is The Mole?. Meanwhile, the Gabriel Byrne sitcom Madigan Men is going on indefinite hiatus... Fox has pulled the plug on its struggli read more

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