Today's News: Our Take


GLUG, GLUG

Look for Sam Neill (The Dish) to flood May sweeps with testosterone when he plays a strapping submarine commander in the NBC TV movie Submerged. Based on Peter Maas's best-selling book The Terrible Hours, the telepic recounts the true story of the U.S. Navy's rescue of a sunken sub's crew from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. read more

SHORT CUTS

Country superstar Shania Twain and her producer-husband, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, are expecting their first child... During May sweeps on NBC, Denise Richards will appear on Friends as Ross and Monica's shapely cousin, while Bebe Neuwirth returns to Frasier as Lilith, who offers her ex-hubby (Kelsey Grammer) her own wry brand of advice about Lana (Jean Smart)... Courtroom competition like Judge Judy has overruled the low-rated syndie Curtis Court, which will bang its gavel for the final time on Sept. 6, Variety reports. — Daniel R. Coleridge with Michael Ausiello read more

BAD OSCAR OMEN?

Five people were injured (with one seriously hurt) on Thursday when scaffolding collapsed in the red carpet area at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium, where the Academy Awards are to be held Sunday. The area was in the midst of being prepped to accommodate press coverage of celebrity arrivals at the big event, which is not expected to suffer any delays due to the accident. read more

In the Company of Gwyneth


Before Aaron Eckhart landed his breakout role as a scheming misogynist in 1997's In the Company of Men, he went four lean years without an acting gig. "If anybody tells me it's easy to be on a soap, I'll have to fight him," he says. "Because I couldn't get a soap, couldn't get a TV show, couldn't do anything."

Luckily, Eckhart caught a break from Men director Neil LaBute, an old college buddy from his days at Brigham Young University. But when the then-struggling actor excitedly shared news of being cast in the indie, he took offense at his agent's condescending reaction. Laughs Eckhart: "He said, 'That would be a nice exercise. Why don't you go down there and do it.' So I fired my agent. And ever since then, my life has been insane."

But in a good way, of course. A major coup for Eckhart was playing Julia Roberts's grease monkey beau in Erin Brockovich — a film whose box office chances he now admits having had his doubt read more

HEY REEGE, I'M A HIT!

With curiosity as a major factor, viewers turned to E! Entertainment in droves Sunday night to catch a glimpse of Kathie Lee Gifford in Spinning Out of Control. According to Nielsen Media Research, the two-hour original pic averaged a 1.4 household rating (which, in E!'s universe, equals 953,000 homes). Comparatively, Spinning Out of Control was up a whopping 180 percent compared to the previous week's line-up of E! True Hollywood Story and Wild On. read more

Courtney Love and War


Forget Napster and the gaggle of file-sharing software clones; according to rock star/actress Courtney Love, the real enemy in the war against music piracy is the music industry itself. Love recently issued an open letter to her fellow recording artists, calling on them to join her in a "united front" against the record companies and blow the whistle on what she calls "unfair, unlawful, fraudulent, and oppressive business practices."

In pleading her case, the outspoken Hole leader cited the hard-luck story of multiplatinum artists such as TLC and Toni Braxton, saying both were "forced to declare bankruptcy because their recording contracts didn't pay them enough to survive."

Love also recounted the tragic tale of the Supremes' Florence Ballard, who appeared on hits such as "Stop in the Name of Love" and "You Keep Me Hangin' On," yet "was on welfare when she died." Said Love, "Artists who have generated billions of dollars for read more

SHORT CUTS

Country singer Loretta Lynn has been hospitalized in Tennessee for treatment of pneumonia. The 65-year-old music legend — who was forced to cancel two upcoming appearances at the Grand Ole Opry — is expected to make a complete recovery... Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell has hired a bodyguard after thieves ransacked her London home Sunday and stole $114,000 worth of possessions... Ex-Law &amp Order star Carey Lowell will play a U.S. attorney in four to six episodes of CBS's struggling drama Big Apple, the Los Angeles Times reports. Her first episode airs April 5... Shaggy's Hotshot LP reclaimed the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart, selling more than 209,000 copies last week. The Dave Matthews Band's Everyday and Aerosmith's Just Push Play finished in second and third place, respectively. — Michael Ausiello with Dan read more

SEINFELD RETURNS

Jerry Seinfeld returned to his stand-up roots last night on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman and joked about, well, nothing. "Everyone says you don't do the show anymore, what do you do?" said Seinfeld, whose Late Show appearance marked his first TV stand-up performance in nearly three years. "I'll tell you what I do. Nothing." Seinfeld went on to admit that doing nothing is hard work. "You have to be careful. The idea of doing anything can easily lead to something that would stop me from doing nothing, and that would force me to drop everything." The funnyman also touched on such hot topics as fatherhood, mad cow disease and Subway spokesperson Jared. Despite Seinfeld's much-hyped stopover, Wednesday night's Late Show was clobbered in the ratings by NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno, besting the toothy Letterman and co. by 42 percent in the metered markets. In Seinfeld's hometown, New York, Tonight outdelivered a fourth place Letterm read more

Jennifer Pays Homage to Julia


Jennifer Love Hewitt is moving in on Julia Roberts's turf. For a scene in her new film Heartbreakers (opening Friday), the actress paraded around in a sexy pink number that was so bust-enhancing, members of the cast and crew dubbed her Erin Brockovich.

"[That] pink dress [with] the pink bra on the outside of it... everyone called me Erin the whole time," laughs the former star of Fox's Party of Five and its short-lived spinoff Time of Your Life, who plays a con artist in the pic. "I dedicated my boobs to her in that scene, which I am sure is the weirdest thing she has ever had dedicated to her."

Taking a break from teen movies such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and Can't Hardly Wait, Hewitt continues her push towards more adult fare in the upcoming Alec Baldwin-directed remake of the 1941 classic film The Devil and Daniel Webster, in which she stars as Satan. "The devil in this is very interes read more

TRIPLE THREAT

Three Hollywood heavyweights are pumping their creative juices into the Sci Fi Channel's programming lineup, Variety reports. Horror maven Stephen King has written Firestarter: The Next Chapter, a four-hour sequel to 1984's Firestarter, which starred Drew Barrymore and George C. Scott. Hellraiser scribe Clive Barker will produce Saint Sinner, about a time-traveling monk hunting shapely demonesses on the loose. And Steven Spielberg will begin production on his long-anticipated 20-hour alien-abduction miniseries, Taken. Other Sci Fi plans include another Babylon 5 movie, titled The Legend of the Rangers. read more

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