Today's News: Our Take


After debuting amid controversy over its host's anti-gay rhetoric, low-rated syndie talk-show Dr. Laura is going out with a whimper, Reuters reports. "I believe it could have earned a substantial audience in time, but the television advertiser boycott precluded that," said Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Meanwhile, GLAAD executive director Joan Garry declared: "The gay community has sent a very strong message that we're no longer an easy mark. We hope that... media outlets will think twice before giving a platform to anybody who is provocative at the expense of our community." read more


Nicole Kidman's publicist has confirmed a tabloid report that the actress suffered a miscarriage earlier this year. Although the rep declined further comment, Sydney's Daily Telegraph reports that the miscarriage occurred shortly after Kidman's split from husband Tom Cruise. The couple have two adopted children, Isabella, 8, and Conor, 6. read more


Newly minted Oscar-winner Russell Crowe directed an obscene hand gesture at a Princeton University student who snapped a photo of him, New Jersey's Trentonian newspaper reports. Director Ron Howard was quick to defend Crowe, who was on campus shooting his upcoming film, A Beautiful Mind: "He's not a bad guy. It was out of character for him. He was signing a lot more autographs than giving middle fingers." read more


ER doc Alex Kingston gave birth to a 6 lb, 11 oz daughter Wednesday. The actress's husband is freelance journalist Florian Haertel... TNN has acquired rerun rights to CBS's hit forensics drama C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation for $1.5 million per episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter... The trade paper also reports that former Home Improvement star and current Harvard freshman Jonathan Taylor Thomas has been cast in the Fox drama pilot American Soap as, appropriately enough, a freshman at an elite New England college. — Michael Ausiello with Daniel R. Coleridge read more


ABC's new Damon Wayans comedy My Wife and Kids debuted with a bang Wednesday night. Back-to-back original episodes of the series attracted an average 13.7 million viewers and earned the network its best adults 18-49 rating with comedy programming in the 8 pm hour in two years. As a result of the strong start, ABC has elected to once again run two original episodes of My Wife and Kids from 8-9 pm/ET next Wednesday. Meanwhile, Fox's Boot Camp premiered with a time-period winning 15.8 million viewers. Now that's something to shout about. read more


Music icons including Jefferson Airplane songbird Grace Slick, The Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and Gene Simmons of KISS will appear live on QVC Monday at 9 pm/ET, when the home-shopping channel sells off coveted music memorabilia. The sale — which boasts a $75,000 guitar once owned by Jimi Hendrix — benefits Seattle's Experience Music Project. read more

Eco-Challenge's Playboy Connection

The female contestants from Survivor: The Australian Outback may look like they were plucked right from Hugh Hefner's Playboy manse (save for Mad Dog, natch), but for the latest chapter of the adventure race show, Eco-Challenge (debuting Sunday at 8 pm/ET on the USA Network), producer Mark Burnett did one better: He recruited actual Playmates.

Team Playboy X-treme — one of 76 co-ed teams competing in the 320-mile race — features former pin-ups Danelle Folta (Miss April 1995), Jennifer Lavoie (Miss August 1993) and Kalin Olson (Miss August 1997). Prior to Eco-Challenge, the trio have participated in a number of expedition races, and Burnett insists that's the primary reason he brought them on board. "They're very, very fit," he says. "They're real athletes. They aren't just jumping out of the cover — you couldn't do it. They're real extreme athletes... and they applied."

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MTV has refused to air a public service announcement created by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that encourages spaying and neutering of housecats. To drive its point home, the PSA features two animatronic cats, er, getting frisky. "In this instance, we found the ad to be too graphic," an MTV spokesperson tells TV Guide Online. In a letter to MTV CEO Mark Rosenthal, PETA responds: "We are flummoxed by this rejection. Is carnal knowledge between cat puppets more problematic than seeing one of Sisq&#243's "Thong Song" dancers waving her buttocks at the camera?" Touch&#233. read more


Showtime is planning a telepic about the 1981 assassination attempt on former President Ronald Reagan. Slated to premiere in August, The Day Reagan Was Shot stars Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss as Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Richard Crenna as Reagan and Holland Taylor (The Practice) as Nancy Reagan. One of the film's executive producers is, not surprisingly, political conspiracy guru Oliver Stone. Incidentally, today marks the 20-year anniversary of the assassination attempt. read more

The Long and Short of Oscar Success

Michael Dudok de Wit — the best animated short Oscar-winner who was awarded a $2,500 high-definition TV set for delivering the shortest acceptance speech — insists that he was not gunning for the high-priced prize.

"When I was informed about the TV set, it sounded more like a joke than something serious," the Holland-born filmmaker tells TV Guide Online. "When you're on-stage, you don't time [your speech]. Someone asked me if there was a clock. There definitely wasn't a clock, or if there was I didn't see it."

De Wit's brief remarks — in which he thanked his two producers and his wife — clocked in at a mere 18 seconds. "It felt like I was doing a standard speech," he says. "It just so happened that all of the [other winners] had speeches that were longer than standard." (He means you, Ms. Roberts.)

As TV Guide Online reported Wednesday, de Wit elected to donate his state-of-the-art tube to the Los Angeles children' read more

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