Today's News: Our Take


Earth's Final Conflict?


Filmmaker Nora Ephron is denying reports that the release date of her latest film, Lucky Numbers, starring John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow, was pushed back from July 14 to this Friday to distance it from Travolta's summertime dud, Battlefield Earth.

"That isn't really true," Ephron tells TV Guide Online. "The reason the movie was postponed was that it had just finished shooting. Before we did the movie, [Paramount] said, 'We want this movie in July.' And I said, 'Well, you're not going to get it.' They said, 'Well, we're just going to announce it.' I said, 'Don't announce it, because it's not going to be ready. I don't cut a movie in eight weeks.'

"So, they announced it and eight weeks later I said it's not ready," she adds. "Then they pushed it [back] and everyone went, 'Oh, it's because of Battlefield Earth. But it was never going to be ready."

As it is, Ephron explains that Numbers, a dark comedy loosely based on read more

COUNTDOWN STILL ON FOR MIR

NBC's planned reality series Destination Mir is still a go for next fall, despite a Russian official saying the aging space station will crash into the Pacific Ocean in February unless enough private funding can be raised. The project — from Survivor brainchild Mark Burnett — revolves around a group of would-be cosmonauts and culminates with the winner being blasted off to Mir. NBC insists that "the series will continue as planned." read more

MINNELLI STILL SERIOUS

Liza Minnelli remains in serious condition in a Florida hospital where she is suffering from encephalitis, a potentially deadly inflammation of the brain. Neurologist Maurice Hanson said the 54-year-old entertainer appeared to be out of danger. "She was quite sick and in very serious condition," he said, "but is now recovering well, and we expect to release her in a few days." read more

PEE-WEE KNOWS JACK

Former Pee-Wee Herman Paul Reubens will host the TV version of the hit CD-ROM game You Don't Know Jack after all, Variety reports. Reubens had backed out of the long-in-the-works ABC game show to pursue other interests, but producers found a way for the actor to juggle Jack as well as additional projects. read more

FREE MADONNA CONCERT

For the first time in seven years, Madonna is going on tour. The pop superstar — whose latest CD, Music, is holding strong at No. 6 on Billboard's top 200 album chart — will play New York's Roseland Ballroom on Nov. 5 and the Brixton Academy in London on Nov. 28. According to MTV News, tickets to the Big Apple gig, which will also feature a DJ set from former Jane's Addiction/Porno For Pyros frontman Perry Farrell and British singer Beth Orton, are free and will be given away via radio contests in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. In a statement, Madonna said she sees this as "a chance for me to get my feet wet on the stage again and a way to say thank you to an intimate group of my fans for all their support over the years." read more

Will & Grace Love Triangle!


Producers of Will & Grace are making good on their promise to take their central gay character, Will (Eric McCormack), out on a few dates this season. But as Max Mutchnick, the show's cocreator/executive producer, explains, the road to romance will be paved with land mines... all of them named Jack (Sean Hayes).

"Very early on in the season, Will and Jack find that they're dating the same guy," Mutchnick tells Out magazine. "And right before Christmas, we do a story where Jack gets a new job at a store and meets a guy there that he's very taken by. But the guy seems a little too advanced for Jack. He uses big words like delicatessen and meticulous. Jack asks Will to come and help him speak to this guy through the headset system that Jack uses at the store.

"He puts Will into a Cyrano story," continues Mutchnick, "where the guy falls in love read more

ANNE HECHE ON ALLY

Robert Downey Jr. isn't the only troubled celeb seeking refuge on Fox's Ally McBeal this season. Anne "my spaceship awaits" Heche will appear in three episodes of the David E. Kelley dramedy in January, playing a flirtatious client of Cage's (Peter MacNicol). According to USA Today, Ellen DeGeneres's ex will begin filming the story arc this week. read more

BRODERICK THE MAN

Matthew Broderick will play the title role in a TV version of the Tony-winning Broadway musical The Music Man, Variety reports. The three-hour telepic will air sometime next year as part of ABC's Wonderful World of Disney. Broderick's wife, Sex and the City's Sarah Jessica Parker, reportedly is being wooed to play the librarian who falls for Professor Harold Hill (Broderick). read more

BUSH — YOU'VE GOT ENEMY

George W. Bush shouldn't count on the support of filmmaker Nora Ephron (You've Got Mail; Sleepless in Seattle) during the upcoming presidential election. Ephron — whose latest film, Lucky Numbers, finds John Travolta playing vapid TV weatherman Russ Richards — says Bush is a perfect example of style over substance. "If George Bush wins, it's because he is just like Russ Richards in this movie — he's a guy who's mostly telegenic," she groans. "He's not talented. He's not smart. He doesn't know anything." read more

CORRECTION

Game 1 of the Yankees-Mets subway World Series Saturday night on Fox garnered a 41.3 rating/63 share in New York, not a 49.1/63 as TV Guide Online incorrectly reported. — Michael Ausiello read more

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