Today's News: Our Take

Kathie Lee Gifford Takes the High Road

Despite being banned from promoting her new CD on Live with Regis, Kathie Lee Gifford says she's game to return to her old stomping ground to talk about her upcoming E! Entertainment Television film, Spinning Out of Control.

"I'd like to," she told TV Guide Online at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif. "I had dinner with [Regis Philbin] Saturday night... we had a great time. You know, that's up to them. I'd love to go if they want me to. I'd be happy to."

In Pasadena to plug Spinning Out of Control — a dark comedy in which the former talk show host plays against-type as a booze-guzzling, cocaine-sniffing, power-hungry sitcom star — Gifford maintained her composure (and a hearty sense of humor) as reporters grilled her about Live's ratings rise in the wake of her exit, her reported rift with producer Michael Gelman and whether the bad blood has created tension between her and Reege.

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For the first time ever, Bill Maher, host of ABC's Politically Incorrect, has apologized for one of his on-air rants. On last Thursday's episode, Maher compared retarded children to dogs, saying, "They're sweet. They're kind. But they don't mentally advance at all." ABC received numerous complaints, prompting Maher to tell The New York Times, "I make no excuses, I was wrong." read more


TNT has plunked down $7 million for cable rights to Erin Brockovich. The two-year deal allows the network to begin airing the film beginning in November 2005. Last year, NBC nabbed broadcast rights to Brockovich; the first airing is slated for November 2002. read more


Survivor producer Mark Burnett gives NBC high marks for its decision to extend Friends to 40 minutes in preparation for its Thursday night showdown with CBS's reality phenom. (New Saturday Night Live skits will fill the remaining 8-9 pm hour.) "I think it's a very smart move by NBC," Burnett tells TV Guide Online. "They're in business to make money. Obviously, they're frightened about their ratings in the second half-hour, and they're doing the best they can. I feel proud that my product could cause that kind of strategizing." read more


Cross-dressing shock rocker Marilyn Manson and actress Rose McGowan have broken off their engagement. "There is great love, but our lifestyle difference is, unfortunately, even greater," McGowan said in a statement. The duo became engaged two years ago. read more


NBC has ordered three additional episodes of its midseason comedy Three Sisters, which despite poor reviews continues to perform solidly in the ratings. — Michael Ausiello read more


Audiences are finding Fox's controversial reality series Temptation Island tough to resist. The show attracted 17.6 million viewers in its second outing Wednesday night — up 10 percent from its strong premiere last week and enough to beat a repeat episode of NBC's The West Wing. Island's strong performance comes as Fox agreed to stop promoting the show during such family-friendly fare as Malcolm in the Middle and The Simpsons. Meanwhile, ABC's The Mole — which premiered last Tuesday to so-so ratings — saw its viewership dip 16 percent in week No. 2. According to Nielsen, the show drew 11.54 million viewers, placing third in its timeslot. read more

Pretender Romance Heats Up

Pretender fans hoping Jarod (Michael T. Weiss) and Miss Parker (Andrea Parker) will stop pretending they don't want each other and get it on in TNT's reunion telepic, The Pretender 2001 (premiering Monday, 8 pm ET/PT), are bound to be frustrated. Although the enemies do finally share a liplock — it won't take place until the follow-up film airs later this year.

"I think it's only natural that [viewers] want the hero and the villain/heroine to get together," Parker tells TV Guide Online, hinting that the groundwork for the long-awaited smooch will be laid in Monday night's two-hour flick. "The theme for Miss Parker is loyalty, or lack there of. Her relationship with her father, her relationship with The Centre, her relationship with Jarod — all of those relationships are intensely addressed and, in a sense, transitioned and resolved."

Well, considering it's a small miracle that The Pretender is alive at all, fans are not likely to read more


Dylan McDermott may shed the good-guy image he has honed on The Practice to play an abusive husband opposite Jennifer Lopez in the suspense drama Enough. According to Variety, the actor is in talks to join the film as "a charming but abusive husband who pursues Lopez to a deadly confrontation." read more

Malcolm Mom's Emmy Nightmare

Malcolm in the Middle's scene-stealing mom, Jane Kaczmarek, confesses to TV Guide Online that she was wearing a girdle at last September's Emmy Awards and felt somewhat disappointed that her husband, Bradley Whitford of NBC's The West Wing, hadn't been nominated. But those were just a couple of things that made the event "one of the most unpleasant evenings" of her entire life.

"First of all, I didn't have a ticket," says Kaczmarek, whose Malcolm kudos have included an Emmy nomination as well as a recent Golden Globe nod. "I had hired a publicist, who never got my tickets. So we literally went running up there. We were late because we were talking to everyone on the red carpet. We went from door to door trying to get in, and finally someone with a headset said, 'Yeah, I have a lady here. She says she's a nominee. She doesn't have a ticket.' So, we read more

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