Today's News: Our Take


OPPOSITES ATTRACT

Gay pop star Elton John has accepted an invitation from homophobic rapper Eminem to perform in a duet at next week's Grammy Awards. "I'm a big fan of his music, and I said I would be delighted to," John told the Los Angeles Times. "I know I'm going to get a lot of flak from various people who are going to picket the show... [but] if I thought for one minute that he was [hateful], I wouldn't do it." The Gay &#038 Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) — which is planning a pre-Awards show protest — called John's decision "hurtful" and "embarrassing." The duo reportedly will perform Eminem's "Stan." Meanwhile, in an interview with BBC Radio One, the controversial artist said that he may soon make his big screen debut. "There is an offer that came across recently that does sound appealing to me," he said. "It is an action movie. That is all I can say. I would be the villain. This is the first offer I have got that actually sounded appealing to me." read more

SHORT CUTS

Country music star Johnny Cash was hospitalized over the weekend with pneumonia. The 68-year-old entertainer — whose condition is described as serious but stable — has suffered from pneumonia numerous times in recent years, and nearly died from it in 1998... Overnight ratings for NBC's second XFL telecast Saturday night were down 50 percent from the previous week... Regis Philbin declared it the dawning of "a brand new era" as All My Children star Kelly Ripa celebrated her first official day as co-host of Live with Regis and Kelly today. Philbin presented his new sidekick with a mug featuring the show's new logo as well as a framed picture of himself. — Michael Ausiello read more

SHE DIDN'T SEE IT COMING

Tom Cruise's decision to file for divorce reportedly came as a total shock to wife Nicole Kidman, a British newspaper reports. "Nicole was completely flabbergasted," a friend of the actress told Britain's Sunday Mail. "She has spent the last few days crying. She knew there were problems, but she didn't realize he was about to call it quits." read more

HANNIBAL EATS BOX OFFICE RIVALS

Let the puns fly! Hannibal made a killing at the box office over the weekend, devouring the competition and making mincemeat of box office records. (Phew!) The highly anticipated sequel to The Silence of the Lambs, er, grossed $58 million in its first three days of release — the third-highest debut in history and the biggest February opening ever. The mixed-reviewed film also set new records for a non-summer bow and an R-rated release. After two weekends on top, The Wedding Planner slipped to No. 2 with $7.8 million, followed by newcomer Saving Silverman (No. 3/$7.4 million) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (No. 4/$5.1 million). With $60 million in the bank so far, Dragon has now surpassed Life Is Beautiful as the highest-grossing foreign-language film in U.S. history. read more

MORE OPPOSITES ATTRACT

WB sitcom star Nikki Cox (Nikki) and comedian Bobcat Goldthwait are engaged to be married. The unlikely couple met on the set of the now-defunct WB comedy Unhappily Ever After. "I had a mad crush on him and told him so," Cox says in Gear's March issue. read more

EARTH TO BATTLEFIELD: YOU STINK!

Battlefield Earth finally is getting some recognition during this crowded awards season. John Travolta's sci-fi flop received a leading eight nominations for the 21st annual Golden Raspberry Awards — which honor the worst in film during 2000. In addition to Earth, nominees for worst movie of the year include Little Nicky, The Next Best Thing, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas and Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. read more

Oscar Champ's Beef with ABC


Oscar-winning American Beauty screenwriter Alan Ball says the difference between the experience of developing his upcoming HBO mortuary drama Six Feet Under (premiering in June) and that of his short-lived ABC sitcom Oh Grow Up was like "heaven and hell."

"There was too much interference and no trust in me to do what I had been hired to do," Ball tells TV Guide Online of his nightmare working with ABC on Oh Grow Up, which revolved around three buddies sharing a Big Apple pad. "[The network] is executive-heavy, bloated and there were too many notes from basically non-creative people.

"My only experience in TV prior to that point had been sitcoms — that's what I do," continues the former Cybill and Grace Under Fire scribe. "So, when it came time for me to pitch a series, I pitched [Oh Grow Up]. But the idea I had in my head was very different than what the series actually became... When you work in network TV, you read more

TOP 10 WAR

David Letterman reportedly had to scrap a proposed Late Show Top 10 list that poked fun at the lawsuit filed against CBS by contestant Stacey Stillman in which she claimed the game was rigged. According to the New York Post, Tuesday's Late Show was to feature the "Top Ten Reasons to Sue CBS." However, the bit was later replaced with the "Top Ten Things Dumb Guys Think J.Lo Means." A show rep insisted that the switch was not ordered by CBS. "We had no contact with the network about the Top 10," said the spokesperson. "We substituted the J.Lo Top 10 because we thought it was funnier." However, one member of the audience disagreed, saying, "The original one was much funnier." read more

Hannibal Sequence Eats It


There are a few grisly scenes in Hannibal that weekend moviegoers may wish they didn't have to see (read: brain kabobs). Well, here's one they won't.

"There was a big scene involving the Internet where Clarice (Julianne Moore) is tracking Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) by finding out who buys the memorabilia of serial killers," screenwriter Steven Zaillian tells TV Guide Online of the plot point ultimately sliced by director Ridley Scott. "The scene led her to... a guy who owned one of those comic book stores and who was one of the dealers of this material."

To research the storyline, Zaillian signed on to the Internet to see what he could dig up. "You can just type in the specific name of the killer and see what you find," he explains. "For instance, you can buy the contents of Jeffrey Dahmer's refrigerator... It was chilling."
read more

EMMY-WINNING SURVIVOR?

Survivor creator Mark Burnett may soon have an Emmy to go with his vast fortune. According to Variety, the Academy of Television Arts &#038 Sciences voted to create two new primetime categories that will honor reality TV. Outstanding Nonfiction Programming (reality) would include such entertainment-based shows as Fox's Temptation Island, the WB's Popstars and ABC's Making the Band, while Outstanding Nonfiction Programming (special class) would recognize shows that culminate with a cash-prize winner, like Survivor and Big Brother. (Don't hold your breath, housemates.) The move takes effect this year. read more

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