Today's News: Our Take


BRATT SACKED?

News that Benjamin Bratt has emerged as the prime candidate to play the male lead in Basic Instinct 2 may not be sitting well with the film's star, Sharon Stone. According to Reuters, the actress — who has final say on who is cast as her leading man — has yet to give her approval. In the highly anticipated sequel, Bratt would play Stone's latest victim, a married, high-powered New York shrink. read more

CASTING COUPS

CBS has snagged two well-respected actresses for TV pilots, according to The Hollywood Reporter. On The Education of Max Bickford, Regina Taylor (I'll Fly Away) will play the president of an all-girl college opposite Richard Dreyfus, who'll be a professor. And Brenda Blethyn (Secrets &#038 Lies) gets her own sitcom, playing a widowed innkeeper in Seven Roses. Meanwhile, Babe star James Cromwell — who recently sent an angry letter to CBS deploring last month's pig killing on Survivor — is now going to work for the network. According to Variety, the actor has been cast as the lead in the CBS drama pilot The Second Act, playing a recently retired U.S. senator who returns home to reconnect with his three grown daughters. read more

SHORT CUTS

As expected, ABC has renewed Spin City for a sixth season... Wondertwins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen will star in a new Saturday morning cartoon for ABC slated to premiere in September... Here's a match made in Oscar heaven: Gwyneth Paltrow will play Meryl Streep's offspring in Daughter of the Queen of Sheba, a big-screen adaptation of National Public Radio correspondent Jacki Lyden's 1997 memoir, according to The Hollywood Reporter... UPN kicks off its midseason schedule April 11 with the debut of its new sci-fi detective series, Special Unit 2. And on April 17, the network will unveil its new Tuesday night lineup, consisting of the dating game Chains of Love at 8 pm/ET and the Aaron Spelling medical drama All Souls at 9 pm/ET. — Michael Ausiello and Daniel R. Coleridge read more

SPICY SPLIT

In the most crushing blow to the Spice Girls since Ginger (aka Geri Halliwell) defected, Sporty Spice (aka Melanie Chisholm) has quit the declining girl band. "I'll always be a Spice Girl," the singer said, but "I don't intend to do any more work with the Spice Girls... Really, I've not been comfortable being in the [band] for probably the last two years. It doesn't really feel that natural to me anymore." Chisholm, 27, is focusing what's left of her "girl power" on a solo career. read more

WOBBLY WEDDING

Psychic Uri Gellar apparently couldn't predict that best man Michael Jackson would delay the renewal of Gellar's marriage vows on Wednesday. According to London's Express newspaper, the ceremony was held up for an hour and a half while a doctor tended to Jackson's injured foot. (So much for moonwalking down the aisle...) read more

Stars Shine at NAACP Image Awards


Trophies for the 32nd annual NAACP Image Awards were handed out last weekend at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, honoring black achievements in film and TV. Comic Chris Tucker hosted the kudocast — airing March 9th at 8 pm on Fox — which included special honors for former President Bill Clinton and actor Sidney Poitier.

Tucker, taking a short break from filming Rush Hour 2 in Las Vegas, gave a quick lesson in awards-show etiquette at the top of the show. "If you don't win, act like you're happy," he told the nominees. And to avoid long acceptance speeches, he advised, "Just thank your mama and God."

Steve Harvey and his self-titled WB series, which ends its run this season, were the big winners of the night with four awards. An emotional Harvey was named Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series and Entertainer of the Year. "This is the biggest thing that's ever happened to me, hands down," Harvey marveled backstage. "I'm En read more

LUCKY CHARM

Wednesday's debut of The Fighting Fitzgeralds — a comedy starring Brian Dennehy as a curmudgeonly Irish-American grandpa — topped the ratings in its 8:30 pm/ET timeslot and in adults 18-49. And that's no blarney. read more

Death Becomes Buffy


Emmy voters, take note — this could save you a lot of time and trouble. Last week's haunting episode of the WB's Buffy the Vampire Slayer — in which the Scooby gang mourned the sudden death of Buffy's mother Joyce (Kristine Sutherland) — instantly earned a place alongside ER's "Love's Labor Lost" and Jimmy Smits's harrowing swan song on NYPD Blue as one of the finest hours of television ever produced. Written and directed with paralyzing intensity by series creator Joss Whedon, the bold installment chronicled the four hours following Joyce's passing and featured wrenching performances from the show's underrated cast, led by The Chosen One herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar. Heightening the emotion was the fact that, unlike watershed episodes of other shows, this one was delivered without any good ol' fashioned Hollywood hype, and thus caught practically everyone off gua read more

Malcolm Star Remembers Dale Earnhardt


Malcolm in the Middle's Frankie Muniz had the eerily fateful opportunity to meet Dale Earnhardt on the same day of the legendary racer's fatal crash. Muniz — a self-professed NASCAR fan — attended the Feb. 18 Daytona 500 race to film a segment for MTV's "Day in the Life" Diary series (airing tonight at 10:30 pm/ET), and witnessed the tragic accident.

"It didn't look too bad," Muniz tells TV Guide Online, adding, "But I was sort of like, 'Why is he not getting out of his car?'" Shortly after, Muniz returned to his hotel room and heard the shocking bulletin on TV. "They said, 'We have very sad news in the NASCAR world,' and I was like, 'Don't say it, don't say it!' And they said it."

Muniz immediately ran to tell his mom, who was chatting with owners of the Phoenix racetrack. "Nobody believed me," he said. "They're like, 'No, that's not true.'" Once the reality sunk in, the young actor said read more

SHORT CUTS

Jason Sehorn's Tonight Show proposal to Angie Harmon was chosen as the TV Moment of the Year at the 2001 TV Guide Awards, broadcast last night on Fox... The Dave Matthews Band's new album Everyday is debuting at the top of the album charts, selling a whopping 732,725 copies... Taye Diggs has signed for the remainder of the season on Fox's Ally McBeal, the Los Angeles Times reports. — Daniel R. Coleridge with Michael Ausiello read more

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