Today's News: Our Take


SHORT CUTS

Britney Spears will host the American Music Awards live from Los Angeles's Shrine Auditorium on January 8... ABC's comedy The Geena Davis Show and Fox's dramas Dark Angel and Boston Public have been picked up by their respective networks for the remainder of the season... Universal Pictures is holding an online casting call for two featured extras for American Pie 2. The deadline to apply is Wednesday. — Michael Ausiello read more

THE NEW TIFFANI NETWORK

Former Beverly Hills, 90210 vixen Tiffani Thiessen has signed a deal to star in an ABC comedy pilot tentatively titled Something About Tiffani, Variety reports. The Ladies Man actress will play a beer-guzzling, tart-tongued woman who ditches her fiance at the altar and heads off to Italy for a six-month break. She returns home 70 pounds lighter — to the shock of her three male college pals. "They're expecting the old Tiffani, and this hot babe walks in," helmer Mark Blutman tells the trade paper. "Inside, she's still one of the guys: She's salty, she's ballsy. But she's not used to being this hot lady and having all these men attracted to her." The show could air as early as next fall. read more

INSTANT REPLAY

Julia Roberts is in talks to star opposite Sexiest Man Alive Brad Pitt (see above) in Replay, The Hollywood Reporter says. The project would mark a reunion for the duo, who teamed up for DreamWorks' upcoming film The Mexican. Replay revolves around a 43-year-old man (Pitt) who, after dying of a heart attack, wakes up as himself in college and is given a second chance to correct mistakes — one of which is reclaiming his lost love (Roberts). Of course, there's one catch: He keeps dying on the same date and coming back to start from scratch. read more

Growing Through Thicke and Thin


Growing Pains actress Tracey Gold, who fought a highly publicized battle with anorexia, isn't the show's only star to battle the bulge. According to her TV dad Alan Thicke, the upcoming Growing Pains Movie reunion (Sunday at 7 pm/ET on ABC) has him headed for the gym.

"I had to go into donut rehab for a couple of weeks just to make sure I could approximate Jason Seaver again," the actor told the TV Guide Channel about reprising his Pains alter ego. "If you look back to the very beginning of the series, we were all lighter, our hair was darker and our tummies were flatter.

"The toughest part of going back to that character was looking at the tapes and seeing that [Jason] was at least five pounds lighter," adds Thicke. His co-star Gold agrees: "It's still hard for me to look back at some of the outfits I wore and hairstyles and things like that. I just cringe."

But after eight years, TV's idealistic '80s family is ready to show us their read more

RYAN LINKED TO NEW AUSSIE

Meg Ryan apparently can't get enough of Australians. The actress — who fell for Gladiator star Russell Crowe while filming the upcoming Proof of Life — has been cast opposite X-Men hunk Hugh Jackman in the time-travel romantic comedy Kate & Leopold. According to Variety, Ryan plays a modern-day New York City woman who falls for a 19th century duke (Jackman). read more

NBC CANCELS DEADLINE

Deadline, the newspaper drama from Law & Order producer Dick Wolf, has been cancelled after five episodes. The move came after the series starring Oliver Platt as a tabloid columnist finished fourth in its timeslot Monday night. Deadline is the second casualty of the new fall season. Last week, NBC cancelled its Malcolm in the Middle rip-off Tucker. read more

Steve Allen Remembered


TV legend Steve Allen, best known as the creator and original host of NBC's The Tonight Show, died of an apparent heart attack at the Encino, Calif. home of his son Monday night. He was 78.

"He established the format, and set the classy tone, for one of TV's great franchises," says TV Guide critic Matt Roush. "Without him, there might be no Tonight Show. And without his hilarious 'man on the street' shtick, where would Jay Leno, or even David Letterman, be?"

Letterman has long cited Allen as one of his great comic inspirations. "Steve Allen was an enormous influence on television," he says. "His early work is really the foundation for what late-night shows have become."

Johnny Carson, one of Allen's Tonight Show successors, took the news of the TV pioneer's death hard. "Steve Allen's death saddens me greatly," he says. "All of us who have hosted the Tonight Show format owe a debt of gratitude to [him]. He wa read more

Theron Juggles Irons, Woods and Woody


In Robert Redford's The Legend Of Bagger Vance, which opens Friday, Charlize Theron plays the beautiful heiress to a golf resort situated in Depression-era Savannah. And although she wasn't afforded the opportunity to take any on-screen swings, Theron says that she, along with co-stars Matt Damon and Will Smith, found time to play the links of South Carolina's Colleton River Plantation, and the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island (where the film was shot).

"We took full advantage of where we were," Theron reports, her enthusiasm for golf shining through. "The good thing is that we got to do that for three months, but the sad thing is that now, every golf course we play on, we're like, 'Well, this is no South Carolina, I'll tell you that.'"

Recalling her first foray into golf, Theron notes that her mother's interest in the sport actually preceded her own. "But then, I picked up a club one day and hit a ball," she says, slipping into a mock read more

FELICITY LAUNCHES GROUNDBREAKING STORY

In what may be a first for television, a major character on the WB drama Felicity will be diagnosed with testicular cancer. The storyline kicks off during tonight's episode (9 pm/ET) when affable filmmaker Sean (Greg Grunberg) undergoes an ultrasound which reveals a growth. "It just struck me as a realistic and timely story," executive producer J.J. Abrams tells TV Guide Online, adding that the plot will not be a downer. "We've found a way to tell the story where it doesn't feel like an afterschool special." The health scare will test Sean's blossoming romance with Meghan (Amanda Foreman). "Their response to this is very unique," says Abrams. "One of the things that results from this is that Sean starts to explore his Judaism. Combine that with the fact that Meghan is Wiccan, and you get some really funny moments." read more

BORDERS DISPUTE

Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient) has replaced Kevin Costner in director Oliver Stone's latest film, Beyond Borders, Variety reports. Scheduling conflicts forced Costner to back out of the pic, which follows a 10-year romance between a relief worker and a socialite (Angelina Jolie). read more

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