Today's News: Our Take


STEVE ALLEN DIES

TV legend Steve Allen, best remembered as the original host of NBC's The Tonight Show, died of a possible heart attack at the Encino, Calif. home of his son Monday night. He was 78. Allen, who also headlined The Steve Allen Show from 1956 to 1961, starred as the King of Swing in the 1956 film The Benny Goodman Story. Additionally, he appeared on Broadway, released 40 albums and had his own newspaper column. read more

Damon Seeks The Write Stuff


In 1997, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck sneaked up on the film world with their screenwriting debut Good Will Hunting, which, after netting nine Academy Award nods, went on to elicit Oscar wins for themselves (for original screenplay) as well as supporting actor Robin Williams. So where stands the dynamic duo's follow-up?

"We actually [recently] started kicking around some ideas," says Damon, who notes that he and his writing partner are all too aware of the scrutiny under which their next screenplay will fall. "We want it to evolve organically, because we are going to get crushed with the next thing we write, no matter what. So we just want to make sure that we think it's good."

Screenplay evaluation is a major theme these days in the lives of Damon and Affleck, who, in conjunction with HBO and Miramax, are hosting an online screenplay competition called Project Greenlight. They also will serve as two of the three executive producers of an ac read more

BELIEVE IT — RIPLEY'S BACK

John Malkovich and Dougray Scott (Mission: Impossible 2) are thisclose to inking a deal to star in Ripley's Game, based on the third novel in Patricia Hightsmith's Ripley series, Variety reports. Last year's The Talented Mr. Ripley, starring Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow, was adapted from her first book. Ripley's Game, set a couple of decades later, finds its title character now married and in need of an assassin to kill two rivals. read more

Neuwirth's Broadway Blues


Bebe Neuwirth has not been away from the bright lights of Broadway for long, but already she's feeling major separation anxiety. The actress, who briefly reprised her Tony-winning role as Velma Kelly in Chicago last winter before joining the cast of the NBC newspaper drama, Deadline, admits that nothing compares to The Great White Way.

"I think that there's always sort of a low-level feeling of missing being on the stage when I'm not on the stage," Neuwirth tells TV Guide Online. "I love my new job, Deadline, but I'm a theater rat, so that is really where I live."

Neuwirth — who will appear in a special Broadway-themed edition of Hollywood Squares the week of Nov. 13-17 — isn't knocking TV and film, however. "Everything else is really fun and I enjoy it and I give everything to it," the former Cheers star says, "but the place I'd rathe read more

SHORT CUTS

Jude Law and his actress/wife Sadie Frost became the proud parents of a baby girl on Wednesday. The couple, who have yet to name the new arrival, have a son, Rafferty, 4.... Mad About You's Paul Reiser will serve as executive producer of an upcoming NBC comedy pilot starring Paula Marshall (Snoops).... Sylvester Stallone has signed on to star in the black mob comedy Avenging Angelo, The Hollywood Reporter says. — Michael Ausiello read more

CBS GETS RENEWAL HAPPY

CBS will announce today that it has given full season orders to five of its seven new fall shows. According to Variety, the sitcoms Bette and Yes, Dear, as well as dramas The Fugitive, C.S.I. and The District are expected to be picked up for the remainder of the season. The jury is still out on the Eye Network's other new entries, Welcome to New York and read more

DALY NEWS

You can bet teen girls across the country totally didn't request this: MTV hottie Carson Daly got engaged over the weekend to his girlfriend, actress Tara Reid. According to USA Today, the couple have not set a wedding date but plan to marry in Manhattan, where they share an apartment. read more

MYERS IN THE PINK?

Mike Myers has received a $20 million offer from MGM to reprise the Peter Sellers role of Inspector Clouseau in a remake of The Pink Panther, Variety reports. The Austin Powers star already is in negotiations to star with Helen Hunt and Anne Heche in the comedy Timepiece, and may decide to squeeze in both projects before the seemingly inevitable actor/writer strikes next summer. read more

TV PLAYS DRESS-UP

Today's annual Halloween Costume Contest was as riotous as ever this morning, with Matt Lauer and Al Roker dressed up as the tabloid's favorite celebrity couple: Jennifer Lopez and Sean "Puffy" Combs. As Lopez, Lauer was decked out in the diva's now-legendary barely-there green Versace number, complete with fake breasts and her trademark enhanced booty. "I was going to chicken out three separate times," Lauer admitted. Roker got off easy wearing Combs's trademark white suit and matching fedora. Katie Couric, meanwhile, appeared as Lucille Ball and Ann Curry was Joan of Arc. Regis Philbin and wife, Joy, were dressed up as a King and Queen on today's Live With Regis and Rosie O'Donnell was Captain Hook on her show. Presidential hopeful George W. Bush also got into the holiday spirit Monday night on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Dubya donned a Halloween mask of his Democratic rival, Al G read more

MINNELLI'S DYING WISH

Clutching the hand of her estranged half sister Lorna Luft, Liza Minnelli was released from a Fort Lauderdale hospital Monday after a bout with viral encephalitis. "I didn't mind nearly dying now that it's brought me back with my sister," the 54-year-old entertainer told the New York Post. Minnelli and Luft, who hadn't spoken in six years, reconciled earlier this month when Minnelli fell ill. read more

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