Today's News: Our Take


CALISTA GETS SHOWERED ON

The cast and crew of Ally McBeal threw a surprise baby shower for newly adoptive mom Calista Flockhart. According to Entertainment Tonight, Ally creator David E. Kelley lured Flockhart to the show's set on her day off by insisting he absolutely had to talk to her. When she arrived, the actress discovered a two-tier, white-chocolate cake with "Welcome Little One" inscribed on the top. Among her gifts: a Glider rocking chair and a handmade monogrammed shirt for the new arrival. Flockhart's pal, Tracey Ullman, was also in on the surprise. read more

BIG WEEK FOR J.LO

That huge publicity blitz last week paid off for Jennifer Lopez. In addition to having the nation's most popular movie, The Wedding Planner, Lopez also has the No. 1 album. Her new release, J.Lo, replaced the Beatles compilation album, 1, atop the Billboard 200 album chart, selling more than 272,000 copies. All this good news comes amid reports that the singer-actress has broken up with her rapper-beau Sean "Puffy" Combs, who currently is standing trial in New York on gun possession and bribery charges. read more

THE MOLE ALIVE AND KICKING

Don't count out The Mole just yet. While CBS's Survivor and Fox's Temptation Island are getting all the attention, ABC's reality show has quietly developed into a modest ratings hit for the alphabet network. In its fourth outing Tuesday, the series delivered its best ratings since its premiere last month. Even more impressive, The Mole is drawing 40 percent more adults age 18-34 than Who Wants to Be a Millionaire did when it aired in that timeslot. Meanwhile, Fox's Temptation Island attracted its largest audience to date last night according to preliminary ratings data. read more

WHO WILL IT BE?

On yesterday's Live with Regis, host Regis Philbin announced that he is on the verge of picking his new co-host. "We are about to make that decision," he teased, adding that, "one of these days really soon we are going to make that announcement." All My Children's Kelly Ripa is seen as one of the top contenders to fill the throne vacated by Kathie Lee Gifford. read more

SATAN MADE HIM DO IT

The world isn't coming to an end after all. Warner Bros. is vehemently denying a New York Post report that shock rocker Marilyn Manson was to play the title role in a remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Manson was quoted in London's The Sun as saying he had a lock on the plum part, and that he saw "Willy Wonka as Satan because he presents people with the temptation of picking good and evil, and they all pick evil." Responds a Warner Bros. rep: "I don't know why he would say this. The lead hasn't been cast yet, but I can definitely tell you that it won't be Marilyn Manson." Phew, that was a close one... read more

EMINEM PROTEST

Students at Sheffield University in London have banned rapper Eminem's songs and T-shirts as a result of his anti-gay lyrics, Reuters reports. Anyone who shows up at the school's disco clad in Eminem-wear will be turned away, the radio station will not play his music and the student newspaper is banned from printing reviews of his CDs or concerts. "There was clear evidence of a flagrant breach of our policy toward gays," explained Neil Foster of the student union board. "We are trying to reduce homophobia." Meanwhile, here in the states, the Gay &#038 Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is planning a Grammy-day protest in response to the homophobe-misogynist's four nominations. GLAAD will be joined by nearly a dozen other groups, including the National Organization for Women, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, the L.A. Gay &#038 Lesbian Center and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center in a "Rally Against Hate." read more

Linda Hamilton: Queen of the World!


Linda Hamilton had some serious doubts about playing a mother of two devastated by her husband's recent death in the ABC movie-of-the-week, Bailey's Mistake (airing March 18). However, she then learned that the telepic was, strangely enough, a whimsical comedy.

"The woman in grief, the woman recovering from loss — I've done all that in real life," the Terminator 2 heroine admits to TV Guide Online. "I was after something funny. I loved the fascinating collection of eccentrics who live on a magical island owned by my character's late husband."

Facing life as a single mom with two kids is something Hamilton knows something about. The actress — who endured a tumultuous and very public break-up with Titanic director James Cameron — is raising her two children, 11-year-old Dylan (son with actor-ex Bruce Abbott) and eight-year old Josephine (daughter with Cameron) alone. "The hardest part was having my heartbr read more

Is Garth Brooks Really Through?


When country superstar Garth Brooks announced last October his plans to retire from the music biz to spend more time with his three children, media pundits were naturally skeptical. As it is, hasn't he threatened to retire countless times before?

"The term 'threatened to retire' is one that does not sit well with me," Brooks responds. "This is my first time announcing retirement. I have three girls in Oklahoma, and this is where I [plan to] stay. I am now a father."

Brooks — who is in the midst of divorcing his wife of 14 years, Sandy — explains that he's committed to making one more album for Capitol Records. But after that, he's hanging up his hat. "We'll turn the page and hopefully find what we can do and still put fathership in the front-running seat," he says.

In addition to the new record, Brooks has another pre-retirement project in the pipeline: He's producing and contributing songs to TNT's upcoming original movie, Call Me Claus, read more

Will Gunmen Shoot and Score?


As one-third of the scene-stealing Lone Gunmen trio on The X-Files, Tom Braidwood has spent eight seasons lurking in the background. But that's all about to change now that the actor and his fellow super-sleuths, Dean Haglund and Bruce Harwood, have been spun-off into their own Fox series — aptly titled The Lone Gunmen.

"It's really interesting to have to focus on it day in and day out," Braidwood tells TV Guide Online of going from a bit player to a full-fledged series regular. But the actor — who originally joined The X-Files as an assistant director — admits he's prepared if his career as a thesp doesn't blast off with Gunmen. "If they run the series and it doesn't get picked up, I'm quite certain I'll simply go back to focusing on directing and producing," he says. "But I would probably also make an effort to do auditions."

Premiering March 4 in The X-Files read more

BUFFY MASTER STRIKES IT RICH

Buffy the Vampire Slayer genius Joss Whedon has inked a new four-year deal at 20th Century Fox Television estimated to be worth over $20 million, Variety reports. The pact calls for Whedon to continue overseeing Buffy and its spin-off, Angel, as well as produce new programming for the studio. Whedon already has in the works a new pilot that could debut as early as next season. read more

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