Today's News: Our Take


BATMAN LANDS DIRECTOR

Warner Bros. is moving forward with its next Batman flick, officially signing indie director Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem For A Dream) to helm the fifth installment, Variety reports. Titled Batman: Year One, the film will chronicle "Bruce Wayne's first year as Batman, including the self-doubts and blunders he had to overcome in order to emerge as a full-blown crimefighter." There's no word on who will assume the title role, previously played by Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney. Brad Pitt recently met with Aronofsky, inciting a flurry of speculation that he was in the running. Pitt's handlers, however, denied the rumors. read more

FOX RETURNS TO SPIN CITY

Emmy winner Michael J. Fox will return to ABC's Spin City on Oct. 18 — although only his voice will be heard. Castmember Michael Boatman tells next week's Entertainment Weekly that Fox "checks in" with his former colleagues in the episode. He adds that the actor may appear "in one or two more episodes in which there will be more interaction with the rest of the cast." Charlie Sheen steps in this season for Fox, who left to battle Parkinson's disease. read more

WALTERS STAYS WITH ABC

Barbara Walters has signed a new five-year contract with ABC News for a reported $12 million a year. As part of the pact, Walters will continue anchoring 20/20 Friday and will appear on The View — the morning gabfest she co-owns — three times a week. The deal also calls for her to host two primetime specials a year (down from four), one of which will be her annual Academy Awards tie-in. "Barbara Walters is one of the most accomplished journalists ever to work in television news," says ABC News president David Westin. "Barbara has made extraordinary contributions to the national discourse as well as to ABC News and we look forward to this next chapter in her storied career." read more

SHORT CUTS

Real-life country couple Amy Grant and Vince Gill are expecting a child in March... Nicolas Cage has become the latest celeb to make a donation to striking SAG actors. The Oscar winner wrote a check for $200,000, besting the $100,000 contributions made by fellow thesps Kevin Spacey and Harrison Ford... Jared Leto will star opposite Nicole Kidman in the David Fincher-directed thriller The Panic Room... Mel Gibson will direct Robert Downey Jr. in a Los Angeles stage production of Shakespeare's Hamlet, Variety reports. A search is underway for a theater and performances will begin in January. — Michael Ausiello read more

SHOWDOWN ON REGIS

Decked out in full Regis attire, Texas governor and presidential candidate George W. Bush made an appearance on Live with Regis this morning and went toe-to-toe with Philbin and guest co-host Susan Hawk of Survivor. Asked whether he tuned in to the CBS reality smash, Bush replied: "I did, coming down the stretch in particular. I was anxious to see who was going to survive, like me." Hawk then quipped: "Just watch your last speech," referring to her legendary snake/rat tongue-lashing. What does Bush think of the tapioca-lovin' loudmouth truck driver? "I like her spirit," he said. Indeed he did. At one point, Bush appeared to be flirting with the former castaway, trading pony stories while Philbin attempted to get his attention. Other tidbits: The last movie Dubya saw was Saving Private Ryan, but "it was a rental. I haven't been to a movie house in a long time." Not since, well, they were called movie houses. In other Live news, ratings fo read more

Kate Hudson's Awkward Adolescence


Being the daughter of rich and fabulous actress Goldie Hawn isn't always as easy as it looks, according to Almost Famous star Kate Hudson. The 21-year-old — who also stars in Robert Altman's soon-to-be-released Dr. T and the Women and opposite Richard Gere in the upcoming About Adam — says it's especially tough when you're trying to get through those awkward teen years. "When I hit puberty, I started trying to figure out who I was, and trying to come to terms with my feminine power," she tells Vanity Fair. "Then you look at your mother, who's got this incredible figure. You're standing there with little bee stings on your chest, saying, 'Well, what about me? Am I pretty? Am I going to have a nice figure? Am I sexual?'"

But Hudson, who was raised by Hawn and her equally famous partner, Kurt Russell, offers high praise for her old folks. "We just had unconditional love," she says of her and brother Oliver. read more

SPRINGFIELD ARRESTED

Rick Springfield, the '80s pop star best known for the hit "Jesse's Girl," was arrested at his home in Malibu, CA, on Monday night for alleged spousal assault, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The singer and former General Hospital star, married for 18 years to wife Barbara, spent a night in jail and was released yesterday on $50,000 bail. "We're together and we're going to work it out," he told The Associated Press. The couple have two children. read more

Madeline Kahn: After the Laughter


Madeline Kahn knew how to play it for laughs in movies (Blazing Saddles) and on TV (Cosby), but those close to the late actress remember her as a very serious-minded person who suffered from a troubled relationship with her mom.

"Madeline thought of herself as having had a very difficult childhood and there were a lot of feelings left over from that childhood," says close friend Gail Jacobs on an upcoming Lifetime Intimate Portrait on the star (Oct. 2, 7 pm/ET). "She was very wise about certain things but she was extremely vulnerable, extremely fragile. Madeline was always concerned about the money that she had to earn to keep things going for her mother and to keep her mother happy."

A wannabe performer, Paula Kahn agreed to an interview with Lifetime and confessed that she had a hard time accepting the successful star as her daughter. "I always saw her as another actress," she says of Madeline, who died of ovarian cancer last year read more

SHORT CUTS

Fox has given Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig the go-ahead for a new one-hour dramedy titled Ludlow Residence, about a lower middle-class Midwestern family with seven kids. "I'm hoping to do for family shows what Freaks and Geeks did for high school shows, except the getting-canceled part," Feig told The Hollywood Reporter... The trade paper also reports that Oliver Stone is in talks to direct the thriller American Caesar, a modern-day Caesar and Brutus story set in the nation's capitol... Despite its lackluster Olympics ratings, NBC last week achieved its biggest weekly win since October... — Michael Ausiello and Rich Brown read more

Lawrence Plays the Name Game


Former teen idol Joseph Lawrence is growing tired of the media obsessing about his decision to pull a Deborah Gibson and now go by Joseph, as opposed to just Joey. In fact, contrary to reports, the 24-year-old ex-Blossom star insists that his moniker actually hasn't changed.

"Joseph's my name," Lawrence tells TV Guide Online. "I was born that... it's on my birth certificate. It was Joseph before it was Joey and they just changed it when I was a kid because they thought [since] I was playing characters named Joey, it might be better for recognition purposes."

So why go back to the original spelling now? "I'm named after my dad and I always said that's what I want to see up on the big screen," says the star of Urban Legends: The Final Cut, a sequel to the 1998 film, opening Friday. "I basically am just using my name. People can call me whatever they want, I could care less. read more

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