Today's News: Our Take


DOWNEY'S HAMLET TURN POSTPONED

Mel Gibson, who was slated to direct troubled actor Robert Downey Jr. in a Los Angeles stage production of Hamlet next year, says the show will go on — but not in the immediate future. "He was busy with the Ally [McBeal] thing, so we postponed it," he told Access Hollywood, "[but] it will happen somewhere along the line. He's great, he'll get there." Downey, who was arrested in Palm Springs over the Thanksgiving weekend and charged with cocaine and methamphetamine possession, faces three years in prison. He's due in court on Dec. 27. read more

The Skinny on Courtney Thorne-Smith


Her name is Courtney Thorne-Smith, and she has an eating disorder. The former star of Ally McBeal tells US Weekly that the pressure to be thin ultimately led her to quit the Fox dramedy.

"I started undereating, overexercising, pushing myself too hard and brutalizing my immune system," the 33-year-old actress says. "The amount of time I spent thinking about food and being upset about my body was insane."

Thorne-Smith, who reprised her Ally role as attorney Georgia Thomas on the show's season premiere, said the breaking point came last year when she learned she would have to do a nude scene. "I ate fruit all week just to try to be really lean by Friday," the ex-Melrose Place heroine recalls of the May 18, 1999 Ally episode. "I remember Gil [Bellows, who played her hubby, Billy] said, 'You look good,' and I was like, 'I'd better. I haven't had a piece of chicken in five days. read more

ROBERTS' POWER PLAY

Julia Roberts has become the first actress to make The Hollywood Reporter's list of the 50 most influential women in showbiz. The Pretty Woman actress — who is a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination for Erin Brockovich — was ranked the third most powerful woman in the entertainment industry, behind Paramount chairman Sherry Lansing and Universal bigwig Stacey Snider. read more

Question: What TV show was ...

Question: What TV show was Alan Thicke on in the late '80s or early '90s that had him as a morning talk show host with a producer and hair stylist as his friends? Thanks. — Jennifer Friedman

Televisionary: That was Hope & Gloria, which ran on NBC from March 1995 through June 1996. However, Thicke wasn't the star.

In a rarely seen TV format — the mismatched buddy comedy — Cynthia Stevenson played talk show producer Hope Davidson to roomie Gloria Utz (Jessica Lundy), a hairdresser with an attitude. Thicke portrayed the stuck-on-himself Dennis Dupree, who hosted Hope's Pittsburgh-based show.

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COSTNER'S DAYS GETS BUMPED

New Line Cinema is postponing the wide release of its Kevin Costner historical drama Thirteen Days from Dec. 22 to Jan. 12, Variety reports. The studio was concerned that with so many high-profile films opening in December, Thirteen Days would get lost amid the clutter. Still, the Cuban missile crisis thriller will open on Christmas day in Los Angeles and New York to qualify for Oscar consideration. read more

Question: Is Bull, the Wall ...

Question: Is Bull, the Wall Street show with Malik Yoba, still airing? Thanks.

Televisionary: That it is, though right now TNT is rerunning the initial 11 episodes of the critically hailed series (Tuesdays, 10 pm/ET), which debuted in August. If you're a fan — and I assume you are since you bothered to write — you'll be happy to hear the network has an additional nine episodes in the works, bringing Bull up to a full 22-installment season.

The new episodes will kick off in the same time slot on Jan. 16, my spies at TNT confirm. (Okay, so I don't have any spies; it was a perfectly nice spokeswoman. Periodically my TV omniscience goes on the blink and I actually pick up the phone and call someone.)

For my money (get it?), Bull is an hour of TV that's well worth your time, by the way. Frankly, it's no easy task to create Wall Street characters the audience cares about and wants to root for. After all, the jobs of cops read more

DMX LETS DOGZ OUT

Hip-hop star DMX, who will star in the fourth installment of The Crow, is penning his memoirs for HarperCollins. According to Variety, the inspirational tome — titled A Dogz Life — will chronicle his troubled childhood, multiple arrests and career as an actor and rapper. The book is due in late 2001. read more

SPEARS'S B-DAY SURPRISE

Britney Spears celebrated her 19th birthday on Saturday by joining boyfriend Justin Timberlake and the rest of 'N Sync onstage at the San Diego Sports Arena. According to MTV News, the "Lucky" little diva appeared in disguise, wearing a wig and glasses, during the group's performance of the '80s dance hit "Just Got Paid." The boys then asked the crowd to join them in singing "Happy Birthday" to her. read more

THE JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS SHOW?

There are increasing signs that former Seinfeld Emmy-winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus is plotting a TV comeback. According to Variety, Louis-Dreyfus has been meeting with top programming execs at most of the major networks and is said to be entertaining ideas. Although the actress reportedly is not anxious to jump back into the series grind anytime soon, the trade paper reports that she's open to the idea of doing a recurring stint on an existing series. (Hopefully not The Michael Richards Show.) read more

SHORT CUTS

Acting legend Kirk Douglas will receive the Berlin International Film Festival's Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement on Feb. 16... Oscar-nominated Babe actor James Cromwell will appear in four episodes of ER beginning early next year playing a revered bishop who is admitted after taking a nasty fall and takes a special interest in his physician, Dr. Kovac (Goran Visnjic). — Michael Ausiello read more

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