Today's News: Our Take


Attorneys for Sharon Stone are no longer seeking a permanent restraining order against her stalker, The Associated Press reports. Last month, the actress got a temporary order against Agostino P'omato, 32 — who turned up on her doorstep in Los Angeles insisting he'd "come all the way from Italy to marry her." (Stone, for the record, is already wed to San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein.) Legal action was halted after the mentally ill P'omato was taken home to Italy by his family. read more


UPN has to be broken-hearted over the lackluster debut of its new reality show Chains of Love last night. According to preliminary Nielsen data, Chains came in dead last during the 8 pm hour — 30 percent below Buffy the Vampire Slayer and just six percent above the network's four-week average in that timeslot. read more


Even two big jackpot winners on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire could not ignite ABC for the week ending April 15, with CBS's "Must-Now-See" Thursday keeping the network on top with an average of 12.37 million viewers — 2.53 million more than ABC. Of the Big Three, NBC remained the weakest link, with 2.33 million less viewers than this week last year. Although consistency was the word at Fox, weblets UPN and the WB both dipped from year-ago viewing levels. The top five shows of the week were: Survivor: The Australian Outback, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Millionaire, CSI (repeat) and Everybody Loves Raymond. read more


Country singer Reba McEntire — currently earning rave reviews for her turn as Annie Oakley in Broadway's Annie Get Your Gun — will star in and executive produce a CBS TV-movie version of the Irving Berlin revival, Variety reports. Since McEntire assumed the role from Bernadette Peters in January, ticket sales for the Broadway production have quadrupled. "It's a natural fit," said Howard Braunstein, an exec from Jaffe-Braunstein Films, which is producing the project. "She's the toast of Broadway right now. You don't see that very often — someone who defines a role like she has." Barring a prolonged actors' strike, the Annie pic could debut during February sweeps 2002. read more


Latino pop star Ricky Martin is poised to play the lead role in a musical version of Zorro on London's West End stage, Britain's Sun newspaper reports. According to the tabloid, not only is Martin close to sealing a deal to portray the swashbuckling swordsman, but British singer Robbie Williams is interested in writing music for the show. read more


Ailing talk show host Rosie O'Donnell will host Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards on Saturday after all. O'Donnell — who cancelled the gig when her doctors advised her not to fly as she recovers from a staph infection in her surgically repaired left hand — changed her mind because of her "dedication to kids," the Los Angeles Times reports. Meanwhile, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch star Caroline Rhea will meet with Warner Bros. execs this week to discuss the possibility of taking over O'Donnell's talk show when she leaves next year, according to the New York Post. read more


Madonna's much-anticipated summer concert extravaganza finally has a name. The Drowned World Tour — which kicks off June 5 in Germany and concludes Sept. 9 at Los Angeles' Staples Center — is being billed by promoter SFX as the most "extravagant stage spectacle" of her career. For the complete tour itinerary, visit read more

Cruz Duped by Depp

Pen&#233lope Cruz was literally blown away by her Blow co-star Johnny Depp. The so-called 'Spanish enchantress' — who plays Depp's wife in the biopic of drug dealer George Jung — knew Depp had a wicked sense of humor, but she wasn't prepared for his battery-operated whoopee cushion.

"We were doing a close-up in this very emotional scene on one of our first days of shooting," Cruz recalls to TV Guide Online. "Suddenly, I hear this, 'Phhhhwwwww.' I tried to ignore it and keep acting. Then, I hear a second one and I looked at the sound man thinking, 'Maybe it's him.' Then, there was a third one and the whole crew broke up. They were dying because they could see I didn't want to embarrass anybody by stopping the scene.

"I found out that Johnny has this fart machine, which is remote-controlled, and he had the control in his pocket and he was pressing it," she continues. "I felt so foolish that I was just looking for somewhere to run and read more


What did the Easter bunny bring Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar? Some chocolate candies, one of those yummy cream-filled eggs and... a diamond ring! The actress and her matinee idol beau, Freddie Prinze Jr., announced their engagement over the recent Easter weekend at a joint birthday party for Gellar and her ICM agent, Eddie Yablans, Access Hollywood reports. The gem is reportedly from jeweler Cathy Waterman, who has designed pieces for stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Meryl Streep and Meg Ryan. Gellar and Prinze — who co-star in the upcoming live action Scooby-Doo film — have been dating for a year and a half. read more

Survivor's Nick Strikes Back

Call him the anti-Jerri. Or the poor-man's Gervase. Or the Survivor contestant most likely to sign an endorsement deal with Delaware's Travel and Tourism office. (Yawn...) Or, if you're like his fellow castaways, call him dead weight. But chances are, whatever name you hurl at 23-year-old Harvard law student Nick Brown, he's already heard it since getting booted from Survivor: The Australian Outback earlier this month. In an exclusive chat with TV Guide Online, the Washington native lashes back at his critics, and opens up about getting aroused Down Under, the Outback feuds that just won't die and whether or not Law & Order will be restored without leading lady Angie Harmon.
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