Today's News: Our Take


SMITH TO DROP SUIT

A day after being awarded $475 million from a U.S. bankruptcy court, former Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith says she may drop a separate lawsuit seeking half of her late 90-year-old hubby's $1.6 billion oil fortune, Reuters reports. read more

PHOENIX IN LOVE WITH DANES

Claire Danes will have someone to fall in love with in the upcoming romantic pic It's All About Love. Joaquin Phoenix — an Oscar shoo-in for his work in Gladiator — has been cast opposite the actress in Danish director Thomas Vinterberg's follow-up to The Celebration, Variety reports. Filming begins in April. read more

SEVEN-MONTH ITCH

After seven months of marriage, former Ally McBeal/Melrose Place star Courtney Thorne-Smith has separated from her hubby, scientist Andrew Conrad, Reuters reports. "Andy and I have mutually decided to separate," the actress said. "There are no third parties involved. We remain good friends and will share custody of our dogs." The couple tied the knot on June 2, 2000, in Hawaii. Last month, Thorne-Smith revealed in US Weekly that the pressure to be thin led her to quit Ally McBeal last season. "I started under-eating, over-exercising, pushing myself too hard and brutalizing my immune system," she said. "The amount of time I spent thinking about food and being upset and my body was insane." read more

MODEL SURVIVOR

Speaking of Survivor, former Palau Tigan Greg Buis — famous for inventing the coconut phone and drooling over fellow castaway-cum-movie-star Colleen Haskell — has signed on with T Management, the modeling agency owned by Donald Trump. "He's your all-American boy with sex appeal," agency president Annie Veltrie tells USA Today. read more

SHORT CUTS

The syndicated reality show HouseCalls — about a problem-solving shrink — has been cancelled, Variety reports. The last episode will air Jan. 19... Roswell's Colin Hanks will star in the Paramount comedy Orange County, about a high school senior dreaming of going to Stanford University, The Hollywood Reporter says. — Michael Ausiello read more

SISQ&#211'S DANCE CARD FULL

Moments after receiving his first Grammy nominations Wednesday, thong-wearing R&B singer Sisq&#243 revealed on E! that he just was cast opposite Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. in a new Disney film. "I don't know the name of it," he then added, "but it's Cuba Gooding, so I'm feeling kind of good about it." Well, we've got the scoop for ya kid. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the name of the film is Winterdance — an action-adventure based on Gary Paulsen's 1994 book Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod. Also on the chart-toppers plate: His own NBC sitcom. "I get my first script today," he told E! of the series, which is slated to debut this fall. read more

EARLY LOOK AT SURVIVOR SEQUEL

CBS's The Early Show this morning gave its viewers a sneak peek at Survivor: The Australian Outback, featuring interviews with the 16 contestants that make up the Ogakor and Kucha tribes (the aboriginal names for crocodile and kangaroo). An attitude alert is already being issued for 28-year-old Kucha member Kimmie, who wasted no time dissing her trailblazing predecessors. "You're not going to see me eating barbecue rats, you're not going to see me eating cans of dog food," she insisted. "I mean, it's 39 days — if you have no self control... then you've got to reevaluate yourself and look in the mirror." (Forgive her, she's from Long Island.) For more on Survivor: The Australian Outback, check out Insider. read more

OOPS!... SHE'S OBSESSED

Madonna is coming clean about her fascination with teen pop queen Britney Spears: No joke, she really likes her. "[She] just bowls me over," the newlywed tells Elle. "I love Britney. I want to do nothing but support her and praise her... I mean, she's 18 years old. It's just shocking. I wish I'd had my s--- together when I was 18." Madonna — who just picked up three Grammy nominations for her hit single "Music" — goes on to explain why she wore a Britney t-shirt at her Manhattan concert last year. "I became obsessed with wearing Britney T-shirts," she says. "I slept in them, as well. It was like I felt it would bring me luck — and it did. [She] became my talisman." read more

Kinnear Helps Creek Cutie Bare All


Dawson's Creek babe Katie Holmes, who goes topless opposite Greg Kinnear in the new psychological thriller The Gift (opening wide Jan. 20), counted on the former Talk Soup funnyman to help ease her through her first-ever nude scene.

"I hadn't been involved in anything like that — and she hadn't either — so I think we diffused it with some good humor on the set," Kinnear tells TV Guide Online. "I think something like that is always percolating at total discomfort. And yet, if you can have at least some sense of the silliness of it, [you] can diffuse it a little bit.

"It was a closed set and it was handled with great dignity, I think, by the crew and by [director Sam Raimi]," adds Kinnear, whose character is engaged in a heated argument with Holmes during the pivotal sequence. "I think we set out to make the scene as impactful as we could, but not make Katie uncomfortable. She read more

Paymer Won't Hiss and Tell


To play the role of a morally and ethically challenged Hollywood producer in David Mamet's showbiz satire State and Main, character actor David Paymer had a specific exec in mind. But when asked the identity of said industry big shot, Paymer regrettably takes the high road.

"If I answer this totally honestly, then I no longer work for a certain person," hedges the Oscar- nominated star of Mr. Saturday Night. "But the truth is, it's more of an amalgam of people I have run into — and not just producers."

Still, Paymer concedes that he has yet to encounter anyone as flat-out demonic as his State and Main alter ego Marty Rossen — whose crimes include helping cover up an affair between his film's star (Alec Baldwin) and an underage local (Julia Stiles) and berating his leading lady (Sarah Jessica Parker) for not baring her breasts on camera. "I never really have worked for someone as brutal as Marty is to read more

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