Today's News: Our Take


MOMMY MCBEAL?

Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart secretly adopted a son, born on New Year's Eve, reports the New York Post. The gaunt actress was recently photographed by the National Enquirer with babe in tow and now rumors are speculating that Flockhart just couldn't wait any longer to have a child. "Calista loves kids and plans to have more," a friend reportedly said. "Someday she'd love to get pregnant. But she doesn't have a man in her life at the moment, so she decided to adopt." read more

INDECENT PROPOSAL

Catherine Zeta-Jones will reap quite a financial windfall if her new hubby, Michael Douglas, ever cheats on her. According to London's Daily Mail, the couple's pre-nup reportedly states that Douglas must pay his bride $5 million if he's unfaithful during their marriage. In related news, the newlyweds have just purchased a $2.5 million five-bedroom villa in Bermuda. read more

ED STICKS AROUND

NBC has renewed its critically acclaimed Wednesday night dramedy, Ed, through next season, the network announced today at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif. The show — which Sunday night picked up a People's Choice Award for favorite new comedy series — stars Tom Cavanagh and Julie Bowen. read more

CLOONEY GETS LIFE

George Clooney is a signature away from playing the title role in The Life of David Gale, the story of a capital punishment foe who's put on death row after being convicted of killing another activist, Variety reports. Nicolas Cage may play what is being described as a small but pivotal role in the Alan Parker-directed film. read more

Matthew Shepard's Legacy of Hope


Like many a straight Hollywood wannabe, Cy Carter approached his first big gay role with trepidation. However, his anxiety didn't arise from his character's sexual orientation, but from his concern about doing justice to his alter ego — Matthew Shepard, the Wyoming collegian whose 1998 murder is the focus of the fact-based MTV movie Anatomy of a Hate Crime (premiering tonight at 8 pm).

"I was honored to get this part," the soft-spoken actor tells TV Guide Online. "But I knew there would be a lot of people watching, so I had to really do my job well. It made me work harder than I ever had."

After conducting exhaustive research — he studied everything from Shepard's dialect to his gait — the newcomer felt as if he'd gotten into his subject's heart as well as his head. "If Matthew had been in my shoes, he would've let my mom know what was going on," he theorizes, "so I wrote his mom letters. I'm not sure whether she's received them, but I ho read more

KING OF... LOVE?

A publicist for Michael Jackson confirms that the self-proclaimed king of pop will perform two or three tracks with his brothers on an upcoming Jackson 5 reunion album, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, the two-time divorc&#233e reportedly will host a panel discussion in February at New York's Carnegie Hall on the "fine art of balancing romantic love, familial love and professional dedication." All this begs the question: If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, where's Michael Jackson from? read more

SPEARS COMES OF AGE

Teen pop sensation Britney Spears — who was just named the worst-dressed celeb by Mr. Blackwell (see below) — will make her feature film debut in a coming-of-age story described as Boys on the Side meets Duets. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the "Untitled Britney Spears Project" will go before cameras in March and will be co-financed by Spears's record label, Jive Records. read more

SHORT CUTS

The debut of Lifetime's new dramatic series, The Division, gave the network its best ratings for a premiere in its 16-year history... Ricky Martin will entertain the masses at the presidential inauguration of George W. Bush on Jan. 18. Van Morrison and Kelsey Grammer also will be on hand for the festivities... Helen Hunt will emcee the Humanity Through Technology gala benefit tonight, celebrating the achievements of Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation, which has filmed and preserved the stories of more than 51,000 Holocaust survivors... You can send your love a Valentine greeting and enjoy 30 seconds of fame at the same time with NBCi.com's "Primetime Valentine Contest." The winner of the competition, which kicks off today and ends Jan. 20, will be flown out to NBC's Burbank, Calif. studios and tape a 30-second message of love to be aired during the Valentine's Day episode of read more

REALITY BITES

ABC's much-hyped reality series The Mole got off to a disappointing start Tuesday night, placing second behind CBS's JAG. According to early Nielsen numbers, ratings for the show actually dipped 2 percent in the second half hour. And The Mole was off 22 percent compared to what Who Wants to Be a Millionaire last averaged in that timeslot on Dec. 26. read more

Sean Patrick's Boogie Nights


The District's Sean Patrick Thomas had tough dancing shoes to fill portraying the "crown prince" of the hip-hop scene in his latest flick, Save the Last Dance (opening Friday). But now, the actor admits he's the king of the clubs.

"Before we started this movie... I could count on two fingers the number of times that I actually went out dancing," Thomas tells TV Guide Online. "So, I was very intimidated by the whole process of having to dance and have people watch me dance and the pressure of being the 'crown prince' of the hip-hop club.

"Since then, I've been going out to clubs every week," continues Thomas. "It changed my life. I'm a lot more confident with my body. It's been a great experience." He also has nothing but praise for his leading lady, Julia Stiles. "Dancing with Julia is like breathing — it's a pure delight."

When he's not on the dance floor, Thomas says he's happy to be fig read more

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