Today's News: Our Take


EMMY MESSES WITH FONZ

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has rescinded Henry Winkler's Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Guest Actor for his appearance on NBC's late sitcom Battery Park after learning that the episode aired after the May 31 cutoff date. William H. Macy received the nomination in his place for his stint on ABC's Sports Night. It's not all bad news for the Fonz, however: The actor gets to keep his other nomination for his guest-starring turn on ABC's The Practice. read more

BENEATH RISES ABOVE X-MEN

The freaks of X-Men were no match for the star power of Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, as the duo's supernatural thriller, What Lies Beneath, debuted at the top of the box office heap, scaring up an otherworldly $30.1 million. Last week's champ, X-Men, slipped to second with $23.7 million, but saw its receipts plummet an alarming 56 percent. Pokémon: The Movie 2000 opened in third place with $21.5 million. Rounding out the top five were Scary Movie ($14.9 million) and The Perfect Storm ($9.5 million). The Jason Biggs/Mena Suvari romantic comedy, Loser, tied with The Patriot for seventh place, pulling in $6.1 million. read more

FIRST BROTHER CUT

William — the 27-year-old youth counselor with ties to hatemonger Khalid Abdul Muhammad — was the first housemate kicked out on CBS's Big Brother last night. Viewers picked William over Jordan, the other participant nominated for ouster, by a margin of nearly 3-1. When host Julie Chen asked why he caused so much trouble in the house (among his high crimes: he rearranged furniture, saying it was a challenge created by Big Brother), the rebel replied: "I was going crazy with the boringness." Hey, think about how we feel. read more

ALLY OOPS!

Just hours after the show was all but snubbed by Emmy voters, David E. Kelley, executive producer of Fox's Ally McBeal, admitted his dramedy experienced some creative slippage last season. (Duh!) "If a mistake was made by Ally, we got away from the emotional center of the show and tried to do bigger stories," Kelley told reporters at the TCA press tour. "Maybe we need to dial it back and find stories that are smaller in scope but more related to the audience perspective." read more

Will the West Win?


Can the president of the United States take on the mob? That's the question all of Hollywood is asking in the wake of yesterday's Emmy nominations, which awarded NBC's White House drama The West Wing and HB0's mob hit The Sopranos 18 nominations apiece.

"It's a total horse race," offers TV Guide critic Matt Roush, adding that he's hard-pressed to name a favorite. "The Sopranos should have won last year, so it is probably positioned to win this year. As it is, the Emmys institutionally are slow to the draw in terms of acknowledging new programs." Tom O'Neil, author of The Emmys (Perigee Books), says West Wing is going to be tough to beat. "It's a classic Emmy show," he says. "It is well written and appeals to a more mature demographic."

Even West Wing nominee John Spencer admits that he's a fan of the competition. "I love The Sopranos," the actor told Access Hollywood. "I probably shouldn't say that read more

Buffy Breaks Through


After years of being bitten by Emmy voters, WB's Buffy the Vampire Slayer scared up its first major nomination this year for Drama Series Writing. Ironically, the episode singled out, "Hush," written (and directed) by series creator Joss Whedon, featured very little dialogue; the story centered around the residents of Sunnydale being robbed of their ability to speak.

"I was a little surprised that it got the writing nod because there was so little talking in it," Whedon tells TV Guide Online. "As a script, it was really scary and difficult to write. And actually to direct ? because I had such a great crew ? that was easier. Doing the concept, being alone in my house going, 'This will never work, I'm going to fail,' that was harder. In a way I'm more proud of the script even in the finished product."

Realizing that "Hush" deserved special attention, 20th Century Fox put considerable promotional muscle behind the installment. "They sent [the tape] out in a ver read more

Emmy's Comedy Surprises


When it comes to comedy, Emmy loves Sex and Raymond, but her favorites are Will & Grace. The NBC comedy about a straight girl and her gay best friend got a major boost as it heads into its new prime Thursday time slot: It nabbed 11 Emmy nominations, the most of any comedy series.

Debra Messing, who scored her first nod as neurotic New Yorker Grace, was watching the announcements live on TV. "She's incredibly excited," noted her publicist, Betsy Boudreau, adding that the actress was more pumped for her co-stars Eric McCormack, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes, all of whom were recognized. "Obviously they're so supportive of one another. This is a huge thing for them."

Following Will & Grace with nine nominations each were CBS's Everybody Loves Raymond, NBC's Emmy stalwart, Frasier, and HBO's no-strings-attached romp Sex and the City. Sex star and Lead Comedy Actress nominee Sar read more

BOW-WOW BENEFIT

Broadway Barks 2, the star-studded pet adoption benefit organized by Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore, has been rescheduled for this Saturday, July 22, in New York's Times Square. The benefit was postponed last Saturday because it was, er, raining cats and dogs. — Michael Ausiello, Michael Peck and Rich Brown read more

X-FILES SHOCKER

Chris Carter, creator and executive producer of Fox's The X-Files, says his UFO drama may go on next year without its two leads, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Carter dropped the bombshell after confirming that Terminator 2 cyborg Robert Patrick is joining the cast this season to fill the void left by Duchovny — who will appear in only 11 episodes. "I think that there's a terrific opportunity to do it, particularly now that Robert Patrick is aboard," he told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, CA. "It's really just figuring out how to tell the stories, and who to tell the stories with. Neither David nor Gillian have contracts past this year. It really becomes a contractual thing, and I wish it weren't that way, but that's the way the business works." read more

FAMILY GUY RETURNS

Reports that Fox has canceled Family Guy are simply not true, said the network's new exec, Gail Berman, at the TCA press tour. "I like the show and where the show is going creatively," said Berman, who has ordered an additional 13 episodes of the animated series. In other Fox animation news: Edward Norton, Michael Keaton, Drew Barrymore and Stephen King will lend their voices to The Simpsons next season; King of the Hill's lineup will include guests Lisa Kudrow, Brendan Fraser, Snoop Dogg and former Texas Gov. Ann Richards. read more

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