Today's News: Our Take


OOPS... YOU GOT CAUGHT!

Security guards at Britney Spears's Hollywood Hills crib detained — and later released — an unidentified man allegedly trespassing on her property. The upcoming star of Crossroads was in New York at the time receiving an award from Cosmopolitan magazine. — Michael Ausiello with Daniel R. Coleridge read more

THE PLOT THICKENS...

The U.S. Department of Labor is investigating the debacle that was last November's Screen Actors Guild elections. Melissa Gilbert (aka Laura Ingalls Wilder on Little House on the Prairie) narrowly defeated Rhoda star Valerie Harper as SAG president, but a guild committee — citing voter irregularities — called for a rerun election. Results of the follow-up are expected in April. read more

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

NBC is thisclose to shelling out roughly $8 million a year to keep Late Night host Conan O'Brien chatting for another four years, Variety reports. That would be double what O'Brien currently rakes in. Fox expressed interest in snatching O'Brien when his Peacock pact expired, but the network apparently never made a serious offer. read more

BROADWAY RECAST

It's official: Former Wings star Steven Weber will replace Matthew Broderick as Leo Bloom in The Producers. Broderick and Nathan Lane will leave the Broadway phenom on March 17. As previously announced, British thesp Henry Goodman will replace Lane. read more

SHORT CUTS

Lovely ex-Doritos hawker Ali Landry will replace Ed's Michael Ian Black as the host of Spy TV when the NBC hidden-camera series returns this summer... Former '80s teen pop diva Tiffany will appear in the April issue of Playboy, Reuters reports. Her spread hits newsstands March 4... Rock and roll icon Little Richard will be inducted into the NAACP Hall of Fame on Feb. 23, announced the civil rights group on Tuesday... MTV will host a global town forum with Secretary of State Colin Powell on Valentine's Day, Variety reports. — Stephen Miller with Angel Cohn and Daniel R. Coleridge read more

Jerry Orbach Restores Order to N.Y.


After a decade on the mean streets of Manhattan, many a police officer are ready to pack it in. However, Jerry Orbach, who has played dry-witted Det. Lennie Briscoe on Law & Order since 1992, has no intention of turning in his badge and retiring.

"It may sound a little off the wall to say this, but having the opportunity to do this in this long an arc has given me — and is continuing to give me — a feeling that I'm doing something for the city and for the people of it and for the cops," the 66-year-old Bronx native says. "I see it every day on the street — the profile of Law & Order has gotten bigger and bigger. And the way the city feels about us [cast members]... it's like we're part of the good things that happen in the city."

In the wake of the Twin Towers tragedy, Orbach believes that his small-screen crime-fig read more

That '80s Comic Plays Herself


Caustic comedienne Margaret Smith's memories of the Reagan era are a little foggy — or perhaps smoky would be a better word to describe them. "I had a Volkswagen, and I drove it until the back seat caught on fire," she says, adding with a chuckle: "This was before bottled water."

However badly burned the standout stand-up was by the greed decade, she fits right into the cast of That '80s Show, Fox's retro Wednesday-night sitcom (airing at 8 pm/ET). In fact, from the time that the series was conceived, it was almost a foregone conclusion that she would play the most tubular record-store proprietress since Annie Potts in Pretty in Pink. Heck, the character was even named after Smith. "I had some compromising pictures of a coup read more

CAGE, PRESLEY PART

Nicolas Cage, 38, and Lisa Marie Presley, 34, ended their 10-month relationship two weeks ago, their reps said Tuesday. The statement said the two "hope to remain friendly." read more

ER WANTS DR. BENTON BACK, STAT

Despite his much-touted departure episode from ER in December, Dr. Peter Benton may still have to scrub up after all. It seems actor Eriq La Salle's exit was premature. The actor has been put on notice by the show's producers that he'll have to return to ER, the New York Daily News reports. "There's a terrific line from Godfather III: 'Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in,'" said La Salle, who was getting $9 million a season. He continues, "If they left it up to me, I'd be done, because I feel Benton had a graceful, clean exit and I think Noah Wyle is the future of that show. But I'm under contract still, so it's ultimately their choice. If they want me back, I'll be back." read more

MORE GOOD NEWS FOR SEX

HBO's Sex and the City copped three Directors Guild of America Award nominations for Top Comedy TV Series on Tuesday, while Fox's Malcolm in the Middle and NBC's Will & Grace received the other two. Sex received its nods for episodes directed by Allen Coulter, Michael Engler and Michael Patrick King. Also tapped for the category were Malcolm's Todd Holland and W&G's James Burrows. In the TV Drama category, NBC's The West Wing scored book-end nominations for Paris Barclay and Thomas Schlamme. Also nominated in the drama category were Alan Ball for the pilot of HBO's Six Feet Under, Steve Buscemi for The Sopra read more

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