Today's News: Our Take

Shandling's Big Emmy Gamble

First-time Emmy Awards host Garry Shandling can't wait to perform his new stand-up material Sunday evening in front of an audience of 50 million viewers. In fact, he may be a little too excited.

"I'm trying to convince [executive producer] Don Mischer to not give out any awards this year and give me the whole three hours," he says of the ABC broadcast, which kicks off at 8 pm/ET. "I think I can do it. I think we should lock the doors. And I think that should be the real Survivor. Just let me talk and talk and talk and just watch them waiting for the awards. I think that would be great."

Whatever the format, it's pretty much a given that viewers will gripe about the show's length. "No matter what, it's going to feel longer than it is," Shandling says. "I'm saying that's a good thing. It's not the length; it's how we use the Emmys, how we're going to use the Emmy programming."

Shandling, himself an Emmy winner (The Larry Sanders Show), c read more

Rock on Raunch

Miramax may want to put a rush order on Scary Movie 2. Comedian Chris Rock predicts that Hollywood's current love affair with sleaze and raunch may have, um, climaxed.

"I think there's going to be a backlash on the whole gross-out thing," suggests Rock, who rips off a man's scalp in the dark comedy Nurse Betty, opening Friday. "It will be interesting to see where it goes because the audience grows up, and they're going to want to laugh just as hard at clean stuff or at more mature situations."

But, as Rock points out, there's a reason an increasing number of entertainers are taking the low road. "When you do gross-out humor, you don't have to be good. It's just like when I tell dirty jokes. The dirty jokes I can tell drunk — the clean jokes take a precision. It's like landing the space shuttle: You can end up on the pad or in the water."

Rock has been perfecting that delicate balance on his popular HBO series, currently in its fifth season. And read more


Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, member of the female R&B group TLC, has vanished without a trace, the New York Post reports. The singer, known for her headline-grabbing antics (including torching her boyfriend's mansion), was last seen Thursday just prior to the Labor Day weekend. "I'm very concerned," her business partner Ian Burke told the Post. "God forbid something bad happened." read more


O.J. Simpson lost a court battle to block an upcoming miniseries about his sensational murder trial, Reuters reports. The former football star claimed the project, based on Lawrence Schiller's book American Tragedy, would expose confidential information he shared with former lawyer and friend Robert Kardashian. But a judge ruled that Simpson did not sufficiently prove he would be harmed by the miniseries. read more


Country singer LeAnn Rimes, who has been plagued by a slew of health problems in recent months, has been diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus. "It runs you down, you get fatigued," Rimes tells columnists Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith. "It turns out I was working through the main part of it, when I should have been in bed." — Michael Ausiello read more


Survivor's lovable grump Rudy Boesch has signed on with Universal to be a spokesperson for the company's Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, FL. The national print and TV campaign, shot on location on Wednesday, will debut next week. "Rudy embodies the engaging spirit of adventure that is Universal Orlando," says Fred Lounsberry, executive vice president, marketing and sales, Universal Orlando. "Rudy has become a folk hero. If he can handle 38 days on an island in the South China Sea, the maximum G-force conditions on one of our coasters are no problem for Rudy." Adds Boesch: "I held on to Universal's Hulk coaster better than I did the pole. This island adventure was a lot more fun, too." read more


Moviegoers expecting the new Renée Zellweger film, Nurse Betty, to be a light and fluffy comedy should brace themselves: The movie contains a gruesome sequence in which a man's scalp is knifed off by co-star Chris Rock. Morgan Freeman, who plays Rock's criminal sidekick in the Neil LaBute-directed flick, admits that he's concerned audiences may be getting the wrong impression from Betty's marketing campaign. "It's a long way from whimsical," Freeman tells TV Guide Online. "I don't think it's all that whimsical, tearing somebody's head off." Nurse Betty opens Friday. read more


With a clearly frustrated Julie Chen looking on, the six remaining Big Brother houseguests stood firm last night and turned down a $50,000 bribe offered to any one contestant willing to leave the compound. Producers — hoping to shake things up and save the ratings-challenged show from complete ruin — had planned to fill the vacancy with a buxom, opinionated 22-year-old. The stunt's failure put poor Chen in the position of having to pad the remaining hour of last night's live telecast with tedious interviews with booted housemates Karen and Brittany. Meanwhile, Eddie, Curtis and Cassandra were nominated for banishment. read more


Brad Pitt has been approached to succeed George Clooney as Batman in the fourth sequel, currently in development at Warner Bros., Britain's Sun newspaper reports. Rumors that the 36-year-old heartthrob may play the Caped Crusader began swirling last week when it was reported that he had met with Darren Aronofsky, who is in talks to direct the new film. Having Pitt assume the lead could be just the jolt the lagging franchise needs. "With Brad in the lead role, Batman 5 would be a box-office smash," an insider tells the Sun. read more

He's a Virgin

Felicity's Donald Faison had no idea that when he joined the WB drama last season he'd become the poster boy for male virgins everywhere. The actor has been inundated with fan mail praising his portrayal of Tracey, the celibate pre-med student in love with Eleni (Tangi Miller).

"It's crazy," Faison tells TV Guide Online. "Fans write, 'I'm really happy that you're saving yourself until you're married because that's how I am. A lot of my friends make fun of me because of it.' " However, the Clueless star believes that not everyone is celebrating his character's show of restraint. "I'm sure there are also [fans] out there who are like, 'Give it up already! All she wants is a little nooky! He's a tease!' "

Faison, who is slated to appear in at least four episodes of Felicity next season, will be thrust in the middle of a different type of drama at month's end — this time on the big screen. He'll appear in the racially ch read more

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