Today's News: Our Take


NIGHTMARE GROSS FOR WITCH 2

The Blair Witch phenomenon is officially dead. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, the much-maligned follow-up to last year's indie success story The Blair Witch Project, was beaten at the box office over the weekend by the seemingly-unstoppable Meet the Parents. The Robert De Niro comedy spent its fourth consecutive week at No. 1, grossing another $15.1 million. (It's 24-day total stands at $100 million.) Witch 2, meanwhile, opened at No. 2, grossing a paltry $13.1 million. (By contrast, the original earned $29 million during its debut weekend.) Despite the disappointing haul, a spokesperson for Artisan Entertainment tells USA Today that plans are still underway for a Blair Witch 3 — dubbed as a prequel to the original. Two newcomers, the kiddie flick The Little Vampire and the John Travolta dark comedy Lucky Numbers, failed to cast a spell on moviegoers either. Vampire, starring Jonathan Lipnicki, op read more

SEINFELD EXEC HELPS ELLEN

Former Seinfeld writer Carol Leifer will serve as executive producer of the upcoming CBS Ellen DeGeneres comedy, Variety reports. The recently-revamped project originally was conceived as a show-within-a-show, but now will feature DeGeneres as a big city woman who moves to a small town. The series is expected to debut at midseason. read more

MYERS GETS TIME

Mike Myers is in final talks to star alongside Anne Heche and Helen Hunt in the comedy Timepiece, Variety reports. Myers would star as a director making a documentary about a small town woman (Heche) fighting the nearby big city. In other casting news, Jesse girl Christina Applegate will appear opposite Cameron Diaz in the comedy The Sweetest Thing and Jamie Foxx is in talks to join the cast of the big screen Muhammad Ali biopic Ali, starring Will Smith. read more

NEXT STOP CANCELLATION?

The low-rated Fox series freakylinks will be preempted on Nov. 10 and 17 so the network can test out its new reality show Million Dollar Mysteries, in which viewers can win $1 million by helping solve real mysteries. According to Variety, freakylinks is expected to return to the schedule on Dec. 1. NBC, meanwhile, is expected to give its acclaimed new drama Ed a full season order. read more

SLAIN ACTOR MOURNED

A candlelight vigil is being held this evening in Los Angeles in honor of actor Anthony Dwain Lee, who was shot and killed over the weekend by a cop during a Halloween party in Beverly Hills. Responding to a noise complaint, an officer fired at Lee after the 39-year-old reportedly pointed what turned out to be a fake gun at him. An investigation is underway. Lee appeared in the Jim Carrey comedy Liar, Liar and guest starred on NYPD Blue. read more

SHORT CUTS

According to final ratings, the New York Yankees-Mets subway series ranks as the lowest-rated World Series on record.... MTV News reports that Christina Aguilera canceled several concert appearances over the weekend after being diagnosed with a viral syndrome associated with exudative tonsillitis. It's like the flu — duh! — Michael Ausiello read more

MINNELLI GOES HOME

Liza Minnelli will likely be released today from a Fort Lauderdale hospital where she has been recovering from viral encephalitis, The Associated Press reports. The 54-year-old entertainer is "still a little weak but feeling well enough to go home," says her publicist Michael Hartman. "She will spend the next few months recovering from home with attendants." read more

Why Felicity Heroine was Axed


As hinted by TV Guide Online, Felicity babe Amy Jo Johnson made an abrupt exit from the show last week when her alter ego Julie dropped out of school. But for those fans already missing the painfully tortured character, executive producer J.J. Abrams has good news.

"She'll be back later in the season, so it's not like she's gone forever" he tells TV Guide Online. "And if we're lucky enough to get picked up for the back nine [episodes], then she'll be back then."

The decision to cut Johnson, a regular since the show's debut in 1998, was not an easy one, Abrams admits. "I felt like in a weird way we were wasting Amy Jo's time," he says. "She's an incredibly gifted actress, but she wasn't getting enough stuff to do. I wish we had enough money and time to focus on all of the characters. But the way the stories were going, I thought it was more fair to let Amy Jo [go].

"In the long run, it read more

Redford Envisions A Younger Legend


When Robert Redford's latest directorial effort, The Legend Of Bagger Vance, hits theaters on Nov. 3, it will feature Will Smith as the titular caddie and Matt Damon as a fallen golfing great who subscribes to his mystical guidance. Yet, at a very early point in the process, Redford envisioned himself and Morgan Freeman in the lead roles.

"That was not a very long consideration," the Academy Award-winning director admits to TV Guide Online. "Once I got focused and started to develop the piece, I got off that [thinking] because it bore for me too much resemblance to The Natural (Barry Levinson's 1984 baseball drama which starred Redford). That terrain I had sort of touched on."

Instead, Redford opted to enlist a different generation. "I got far more interested in going with a very young cast," he shares. "I thought it might be a more affecting story."

Enter Smith and Damon, two of the hottest young commodities available read more

Travolta Not 'N Sync with Grease 3


John Travolta is pleased to report that boy band 'N Sync will not be appearing in Grease 3 — despite claims to the contrary by one of the group's members.

"Most likely, it's Grease 3," 'N Sync's Lance Bass recently told reporters. "We're definitely going to do one. Everything just got put on hold because of the SAG strike, which is just very bad timing for us, but we're going ahead and getting the script written."

But Travolta — who headlined the original 1978 film opposite Olivia Newton-John — tells TV Guide Online that the franchise will not be handed over to the bubble-gum poppers. "It won't be called Grease 3," he says. "I was told Paramount owns the Grease name and they're not doing that."

So, who are we to believe? Travolta, according to a Paramount spokesperson. "We're not doing Grease 3," says a studio rep. Calls to 'N Sync's camp were not returned at press time.

As it is, the read more

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