Today's News: Our Take


GRAND EXIT

Hollywood may not be able to use Steven Seagal as a punchline anymore. The actor's seemingly dead career roared back to life over the weekend when his latest film, Exit Wounds, entered the box office at No. 1 and ranked as his biggest opening to date. The action-comedy — co-starring rapper DMX — grossed $19 million from Friday to Sunday. Debuting in second place was the World War II drama Enemy at the Gates, which raked in $13.6 million. After two weeks at No. 1, the Brad Pitt&#150Julia Roberts caper The Mexican slipped to third with $8.1 million. Rounding out the top five were See Spot Run (No. 4 with $5.2 million) and 15 Minutes (No. 5 with $4.4 million). Meanwhile, Oscar contenders Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Traffic crossed the $100 million mark. read more

SHE'S ONLY HUMAN

Meg Ryan insists that her brief romance with Gladiator hunk Russell Crowe was not behind her split with Dennis Quaid. "My marriage with Dennis had already fallen apart before I met Russell," the actress told the German edition of InStyle magazine. "It would be really great if people would realize that stars are only people with the same weaknesses and flaws, not immaculate idols." (Where's the fun in that?) read more

Enemy's Dirty Scene


Enemy at the Gates stars Jude Law and Rachel Weisz agree that their love scene — which takes place in the middle of World War II surrounded by dozens of soldiers — lacks the traditional romantic setting. And as the actors explain, such obstacles actually enhanced their intimacy.

"The element of all these farting and burping men around sort of made the scene more sensuous," says Law, who netted an Oscar nod for his role in The Talented Mr. Ripley. "By the time we got to shooting, most of [the extras] were asleep, anyway. It was funny. It broke the ice."

Weisz, best known for playing a damsel in distress in The Mummy, explains why her character — one of about 3,000 Russian women who volunteered for service in Stalingrad — so forwardly invites herself into Law's sleeping bag. "In a war, you don't have any privacy," the actress says. "There was a kind of sexual liberation that happened because people thought they would be d read more

NO VERDICT

The jury in Sean "Puffy" Combs's trial for bribery and gun possession wrapped a second day of deliberations on Thursday without handing down a verdict. Jurors wrote the judge they were "very exhausted, and any further deliberations would be counter-productive." read more

VENTURA GETS SACKED

Vince McMahon has found a scapegoat for his troubled XFL venture: commentator Jesse Ventura. The league founder told the Los Angeles Times that the Minnesota Gov. is on "thin ice," adding that "we've made mistakes, and I think our biggest one was our selection of announcers. We need football announcers, not WWF announcers." read more

DOWNEY ON TRIAL?

Robert Downey Jr.'s attorneys have failed to negotiate a plea bargain for the drug charges against him, Reuters reports. That means a preliminary hearing must be held on April 30, when a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to bind Downey for trial. The trouble began at a Palm Springs resort on Nov. 25, when an anonymous 911 call led to the Ally McBeal star's arrest for possession of cocaine and Valium. If convicted, he could go back to prison for nearly five years. read more

SHE'S A GONER

Rosie O'Donnell confided to The View's Joy Behar that she is definitely leaving her talk show next year. As Behar spilled to Viewers on Thursday: "September begins her very last season, so all of this press about how she's staying, she's gonna stay for three more years, is not true. Rosie is leaving — Tom Selleck can work again!" Behar also revealed that O'Donnell's decision to leave was the reason she resubmitted her name for Daytime Emmy consideration. And regarding talk that [Today's] Katie Couric has expressed interest in replacing O'Donnell, Behar offered: "She could get up later. I mean, think about it. The poor woman gets up at three in the morning." read more

Judgement Day for Kathie Lee


Kathie Lee Gifford has a message for those TV critics assessing her performance in the E! original movie Spinning Out of Control: Be fair. Regis's former sidekick — who plays a pill-popping, sex-crazed sitcom star in the pic (premiering Sunday at 9 pm/ET) — admits that while "she hopes" reviewers will be impartial in their judgement of her, she's not lying awake nights worrying about it.

"What can I do? I did the best work I can do, and I loved every minute of it," she tells TV Guide Online. "It's out of my hands now."

So far, reviews of the film have been mixed at best, with People magazine declaring that the film "is sometimes clever" and Gifford "vaults almost gleefully over the top." That's much better than the scathing notices that greeted the release of her highly touted pop CD, Heart of a Woman. Making matters worse, the universally panned disc sold a measly 36,000 units, and the media seemed to have a field day repor read more

LEARY GETS JOB DONE

The debut of ABC's Denis Leary cop dramedy The Job held its own in the ratings Wednesday night, attracting nearly 10 million viewers and maintaining 96 percent of its Drew Carey lead-in. Meanwhile, CBS's cop drama Big Apple turned in a rotten performance in its first of two special Wednesday night airings after Survivor: The Australian Outback. The show lost 67 percent of the reality show's 28 million viewers. Finally, NBC has picked up four more episodes of its Brian Dennehy comedy The Fighting Fitzgeralds. read more

James Caan Goes to Hell and Back


James Caan — who returns to the small screen Sunday night in the fact-based FX movie A Glimpse of Hell — reveals that he initially rejected the role of football star Brian Piccolo in the beloved 1971 TV pic Brian's Song for fear that it would tarnish his career.

"At that time, when you did television, they thought you were out of the business," admits Caan, whose role in The Godfather earned him an Oscar nomination. "I turned [Brian's Song] down four times because of that stigma, which I think is all baloney. I think it's terrible."

Caan points out that one of the reasons more and more film actors are being drawn to the boob tube — particularly cable — is the quality of the work. "Selfishly, I feel that I [have a chance to] act," he confesses. "They're doing stories that are character-driven, story-driven... they're [not] hanging me from some wire behind some green screen."

It's that level of excelle read more

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