Today's News: Our Take


RETRACTING HER CLAWS

Rapper Foxy Brown wants to make peace with rival Lil' Kim, MTV News reports. As previously reported, things got ugly when their feud apparently caused a shootout at New York's Hot 97 radio station on Feb. 25. "I really don't know how it started," Brown said of the rivalry. "I want to have a sit-down with Kim. I don't care what it is. Let's just end it. We can even do a collaboration. We're bigger than this. If it has to start with me, let it start with me." Brown claimed Lil' Kim's reps "weren't responsive" when music mogul Russell Simmons called to extend an olive branch on her behalf. read more

SPIDER-MAN TRAGEDY

A 45-year-old construction worker building a set for the upcoming Spider-Man movie was killed Tuesday when a crane crashed into a platform on which he was working. The set was being constructed in Downey, Calif., 20 miles outside of Los Angeles. According to USA Today, the film's stars — Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst — were not on the set at the time. read more

FRASIER STAYS

NBC has struck a deal with Paramount to continue airing Frasier for three more seasons, Peacock execs announced today. The studio had been threatening to take the Emmy-winning sitcom to another network — namely sister company CBS — if NBC failed to meet its demands. Terms of the pact were not revealed, although NBC's West Coast President Scott Sassa confirmed that it agreed to a "modest" 10 percent increase in price. (The dollar amount per episode reportedly jumps from $5 million to $5.5 million.) "I'm very happy," series star Kelsey Grammer said. "I spent the last month pretty much bitin' my nails, being quietly lost in a controlled frenzy." read more

KIDNAPPERS TARGET RUSSELL CROWE

Oscar-nominated Gladiator star Russell Crowe has become the target of a kidnapping plot, the FBI confirmed Tuesday. No details were given, but Crowe has been interviewed by agents from the bureau and his publicist said that the actor "has taken the necessary security precautions." It's not clear when Crowe was informed of the plot, but Entertainment Tonight reports that he attended the Jan. 21 Golden Globe ceremony flanked by tuxedo-clad FBI agents. What's more, Scotland Yard police reportedly were on hand to protect him last week during the London premiere of Proof of Life — in which Crowe ironically plays a hostage negotiator. read more

SHORT CUTS

A federal judge has given the popular song-swapping service Napster 72 hours to remove any unauthorized songs as identified by the recording industry.... The third-season premiere of The Sopranos attracted 11.3 million viewers, giving HBO its highest rating since the 1995 premiere of Forrest Gump, Variety reports... Cable channel Bravo has acquired rights to air reruns of NBC's The West Wing beginning in September 2003 for a per-episode price of $1.2 million... Funnyman George Carlin will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Comedy Awards on April 22.... Temptation Island's Kaya Wittenburg has signed a modeling contract with the New York-based Q Model Management, the Los Angeles Times reports... The WB has cooked up an April Fools stunt to launch its new animated comedy The Oblongs. On April 1, the network will read more

New FX Tricks in Matrix Sequels


In April 1999, a sci-fi hit sneaked under moviegoers' radar, taunting them with the cryptic tagline, "What Is the Matrix?" Now, nearly two years — and a significant box office/home video haul — later, fans of that vanguard film anxiously await an answer to the question, "What Is the Status of The Matrix Sequels?"

"Filming begins in late March," Keanu Reeves, the centerpiece of the original Matrix, tells TV Guide Online. "It's very exciting. I've read both of the scripts, and they're fantastic. Fantastic."

The Matrix 2 and The Matrix 3 — to be shot back-to-back, allowing post-production work to get underway during the imminent strikes — will commence shooting next month in California, before moving overseas to Australia. But before the first frame of celluloid is exposed, there's the none-too-small matter of getting the principals primed for the type of physics-bending combat that was the hallmark of the first film.

read more

SOPRANOS SING

Early ratings reports indicate a bang-up third season premiere for HBO's The Sopranos, according to Inside.com. If preliminary numbers hold, the mob drama could outdo the season averages of network regulars like ABC's Spin City and Fox's Boston Public. That's quite a coup, especially since only one-third of the nation's TV viewing households subscribe to HBO. read more

SHORT CUTS

Fox's X-Files spinoff The Lone Gunmen posted decent ratings in its Sunday night premiere, winning its hour in the major adult demos and placing second to ABC's Oprah Winfrey Presents: Amy and Isabelle in total viewers (19.4 million to 13 million)... NBC's resurgent Saturday Night Live delivered its best February sweeps ratings in three years... NBC is pursuing Bob Newhart to co-star in its upcoming comedy featuring "Thong Song" crooner Sisq&#243, Variety reports. — Michael Ausiello and Daniel R. Coleridge read more

Popular's Bibb Hits the Mother Lode


Popular star Leslie Bibb says she relished the opportunity to get down and dirty for her role as David Arquette's unglam love interest in the big-screen comedy See Spot Run, which grossed a respectable $10 million at the box office last weekend.

"I liked being in a movie where you didn't have to worry about being pretty," the actress, who plays squeaky-clean high school cheerleader Brooke McQueen on the WB teen drama, tells TV Guide Online. "You know, in Hollywood, where it's always like, 'What do you look like? How big are your boobs? How big is your butt?' It was like, 'Who cares? Let's put [on] more raccoon eyes!'"

See Spot Run also allowed the 26-year-old actress to tackle another first: playing a mother. "When I told my mom... she started laughing," recalls Bibb. "She's like, 'Oh yeah, that'll be good. You don't have any maternal instinct.' I was like, 'Shut up, I have a dog!'"

Bibb confesses that the role had a profound effect read more

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN PREQUEL

Director Ang Lee is developing a prequel to his crossover smash Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, USA Today reports. Lee — who is in the early stages of writing the script — hopes to bring back Tiger leads Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh. However, the acclaimed auteur concedes that with the current pic headed towards a North American gross of $100 million, the follow-up would be an expensive proposition. Notes Lee: "Everybody's going to charge me five times as much." read more

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