Today's News: Our Take


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

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

THE WB WANTS MORE

Popular creator Ryan Murphy has received a pilot commitment from the WB for an hour-long series described as a male Charlie's Angels. According to Variety, the prospective series, titled More, will revolve around a trio of "hip men" who fulfill the fantasies of women. read more

NOW THEY'RE THE PITTS

Jennifer Aniston, who married actor Brad Pitt in August, has officially changed her name to Jennifer Joanne Pitt, inside.com reports. The Friends Emmy nominee was spotted at the Santa Monica Department of Motor Vehicle's office last week, where a clerk reportedly spilled the beans that "that Friends girl was changing her name." The actress's rep, however, says that Aniston will continue to use her maiden name for on-screen credits. 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

SHORT CUTS

The WB has picked up its new comedy Nikki for the remainder of the season... Actress/model Lauren Hutton remains in serious but stable condition at a Las Vegas hospital one week after her motorcycle swerved off a Nevada highway... The three-member piano-based pop band Ben Folds Five has split up, MTV News reports. — Michael Ausiello read more

Neuwirth's Broadway Blues


Bebe Neuwirth has not been away from the bright lights of Broadway for long, but already she's feeling major separation anxiety. The actress, who briefly reprised her Tony-winning role as Velma Kelly in Chicago last winter before joining the cast of the NBC newspaper drama, Deadline, admits that nothing compares to The Great White Way.

"I think that there's always sort of a low-level feeling of missing being on the stage when I'm not on the stage," Neuwirth tells TV Guide Online. "I love my new job, Deadline, but I'm a theater rat, so that is really where I live."

Neuwirth — who will appear in a special Broadway-themed edition of Hollywood Squares the week of Nov. 13-17 — isn't knocking TV and film, however. "Everything else is really fun and I enjoy it and I give everything to it," the former Cheers star says, "but the place I'd rathe read more

Hall Kid Urges Eminem to "Come Out"


As Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP continues to burn up the charts, the controversial disc — which features anti-gay lyrics and songs about rape and throat cuttings — has set off a heated debate: Is he a musical genius, or simply a violent, hate spewing homophobe? According to Kids In The Hall alum Scott Thompson, the answer is a little of both.

"I listen to his music and I find him fascinating," the openly gay comedic actor tells TV Guide Online. "He's a really talented artist, but he's obviously very troubled."

Thompson, whose outlandish characterizations have earned him the title "Queen of Debauchery," has made a career of pushing people's buttons. Eminem's act, however, has pushed his. "At first, I ignored a lot of the [gay] bashing because when you read the lyrics, you think he must be joking," says Thompson. "But as it accumulates, you realize it can't be a joke, that there has to be something to it.

"I wonder where it's coming f read more

Damon Seeks The Write Stuff


In 1997, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck sneaked up on the film world with their screenwriting debut Good Will Hunting, which, after netting nine Academy Award nods, went on to elicit Oscar wins for themselves (for original screenplay) as well as supporting actor Robin Williams. So where stands the dynamic duo's follow-up?

"We actually [recently] started kicking around some ideas," says Damon, who notes that he and his writing partner are all too aware of the scrutiny under which their next screenplay will fall. "We want it to evolve organically, because we are going to get crushed with the next thing we write, no matter what. So we just want to make sure that we think it's good."

Screenplay evaluation is a major theme these days in the lives of Damon and Affleck, who, in conjunction with HBO and Miramax, are hosting an online screenplay competition called Project Greenlight. They also will serve as two of the three executive producers of an ac read more

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