This year's Academy Awards made history in more ways than making Halle Berry the first black woman to receive the Best Actress Award.
Not only was the show the longest Oscars presentation ever (four hours and 16 minutes), but it was also the Oscars' lowest household rating turnout (25.4 rating, 42 share), Reuters reports.
Preliminary Nielsen ratings point to a 3 percent drop from last year, including the 18-49 age demographic (which fell to 16.1, down 10 percent from last year).
But not all was lost.
The Oscars can still boast fourth place as the highest-rated telecast of the season, with viewership totaling about 41.8 million people. The Super Bowl (86.8 million), the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics (45.6 million) and the Games' women's figure-skating long program (43.3 million) are the only TV programs to beat it thus far.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second production of author J.K. Rowling's boy-wizard books, has added several prominent--and a few unknown--actors to its cast.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, big names will include Kenneth Branagh (How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog) as professor Gilderoy Lockhart, Jason Isaacs (Black Hawk Down) as Lucius Malfoy--Draco's dad--Miriam Margolyes (Cats and Dogs) as professor Sprout and Mark Williams (High Heels and Low Lifes) as Mr. Weasley--Ron's father.
In addition, Shirley Henderson and Gemma Jones (both from Bridget Jones's Diary) will play Moaning Myrtle and Madam Pomfrey, respectively.
But one of the main roles goes to little-known actor Christian Coulson, the BBC reports, who will fill the big screen as Tom Riddle, a younger version of the evil Lord Voldemort.
Sally Mortemore, a theater actress, will play librarian Madam Pince.
Chamber of Secrets has already begun filming at Scotland's historic Glenfinnan Tower and is set for a November release, just a year after its prequel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, made over $300 million at the box office.
After just breaking from their management company, the Firm, the Backstreet Boys--Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough and A.J. McLean--may now be facing another break, PageSix.com reports.
It seems "Boys" member Nick Carter has hired the Firm for his own purposes: a solo album to be released in August, coming just a month before the Backstreet Boys plan to release their next album, according to PageSix.com.
Carter told the London Sun, "I'm really psyched [for the solo project] and want to do something different by myself," PageSix.com reports.
When Hollywood.com contacted the Firm, it neither confirmed nor denied the Backstreet Boys are no longer with the company or that Nick Carter hired the company for a solo album.
Not new to controversy, the boy band's A.J. McLean's bout with depression and alcoholism caused the group to postpone their Black & Blue tour in 2001.
In 1998, the "Boys" fired and sued their original manager, Lou Pearlman, who conceptualized the band.
The two-hour Fox series finale of The X-Files will star David Duchovny as Agent Mulder on May 19, the Associated Press reports. Duchovny, who starred in eight of the show's nine seasons, will also direct one of the last episodes scheduled to air April 28. The X-Files airs at 9 p.m. EST on Sundays.
Sean Connery will star in Fox's upcoming comic-based film League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He will play Quatermain, a British explorer.
Josh Hartnett (Black Hawk Down) has been named ShoWest 2002's Male Star of Tomorrow, Reuters reports. The 23-year-old actor will be honored March 7 at a Las Vegas awards gala. Other honorees include Will Smith (Male Star of the Year), Jennifer Lopez (Female Star of the Year), Ron Howard (Director of the Year), Steven Spielberg (Lifetime Achievement) and Nicole Kidman (Distinguished Decade of Achievement).
Oscar nominee and pop singer Sting has signed a deal to write his first book of narrative nonfiction, the AP reports. The Bantam Dell Publishing Group expects to publish the hardcover book by 2004.
Top morning news anchor Katie Couric isn't shy about the reality of her job. People reports Couric told New York Daily News that she's unhappy with her new Today show boss, Jonathan Wald, and that "the hours are brutal."
CBS' Survivor: Africa has two more $100,000 second-place winners, the AP reports. Producers found they made a mistake in declaring the winners of an immunity challenge when Lex van den Berghe and Tom Buchanan correctly identified female players that did not have any body piercings. They join original second-placer Kim Johnson.
Kristanna Loken will be the female lead in upcoming Arnold Schwarzenegger film T3: Rise of the Machines, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Production will begin April 15 in Los Angeles. Loken currently plays a recurring character on ABC's Philly.
Kylie Minogue and Dido were the musical champs Wednesday with two awards each at the Brit Awards. Sky News reports Minogue won for Best International Female and Best International album, and Dido won for Best Female Performer and Best Album. Destiny's Child picked up the award for Best International Group.
Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun, Pearl Harbor) and the White House have teamed up for a new TV reality show called Profiles from the Front Line, which is scheduled to air sometime this summer, Reuters reports. The program will focus on men and women in uniform on actual battlefields and is being produced with "unparalleled support" from the U.S. Defense Department.
Bob Dylan, OutKast and violinist Joshua Bell will be among the artists already scheduled to perform at the 44th Grammy Awards telecast Feb. 27 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the AP reports. They will join U2, Alicia Keys, Nelly, India.Arie, Patti LaBelle and others previously announced. The show will air at 8 p.m. EST/PST on CBS.
People reports Dawson's Creek co-stars James Van Der Beek and Kerr Smith have popped the question to their girlfriends, Party of Five actress Heather McComb and MTV's Undressed personality Ali Hillis, respectively. No wedding dates have been set.
Halle Berry, who is currently promoting her movie Monster's Ball at the Berlin film festival, said at a press conference there that her father helped her play the role of an alcoholic in the film, the Associated Press reports. Berry said her dad "had never been loved himself," and her mother struggled to raise two children with an absent, alcoholic husband. In related news, Monster's Ball director Marc Forster defended the long, involved sex scenes in the film, saying they'd actually been much longer and more involved before they were edited for ratings. "I had to cut a minute to get the rating," he said. "I tried to convince them the scene was vital. It seems you can't have too much thrusting. We cut some out."
Princess Margaret died in her sleep Saturday at the age of 71, according to the BBC. This comes in the midst of her older sister's--the Queen of England's--Golden Jubilee, a celebration of the monarch's 50-year reign.
In Florida, a Broward County judge sent actor Brad Renfro (Ghost World), 19, to rehab for 30 days for violating the terms of his probation, Florida's Sun-Sentinel reports. The actor was charged with driving without a license and public intoxication in his hometown of Knoxville, Tenn., last month, and he turned himself in to Broward County authorities on Jan. 31. Renfro is on probation for attempting to steal a boat from a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., marina in August 2000. Unfortunately for him, he and a friend, who was also charged, forgot to untie the mooring lines, and the boat snapped back into the dock. Oops.
Saturday, for New York's fashion week, Sean "Puffy" Combs presented his 2002 men's fall clothing line with 64 outfits, Reuters reports. The Grammy-winning rapper/ producer featured a softer style this year unlike previous years, and there were no "gangsta" looks. Instead, the models donned V-neck sweaters, turtlenecks and cashmere scarves.
Tune into Jay Leno's The Tonight Show Monday, Feb. 11 for the second in a series of 11 Olympic specials. The guests will include first lady Laura Bush, pop-goddess Britney Spears and rock band Foo Fighters, CNN.com reports.
Harrison Ford stopped off in Fort Wayne, Ind., last Monday evening and parked the plane he was piloting at the Fort Wayne International Airport because of bad weather, the AP reports. He went to a restaurant and stayed the night in a hotel.
Ben Stiller's flick Zoolander has been banned in Singapore, the BBC reports. While no official word has been given, the country often bans or censors media with excessive sexual or drug references.
If you're a Friends fan, you might be moved to tears during the final show of the season. Star magazine reports Jennifer Aniston's character, Rachael, will die in childbirth.
Jack Black (Orange County) says when he performs with his band Tenacious D, his fans yell out the names of his movies rather than his songs, the AP reports. While the multi-talented Black admits acting has helped his songwriting career, he says, "It's all wrapped up in a delicious entertainment burrito."
Alicia Keys's album Songs in A Minor is giving the singer a lot of award attention. She recently received four nominations for the 169th annual Soul Train Music Awards, and she's also up for six Grammys. The winners will be announced Feb. 27 and March 20, respectively.
Victoria Beckam (a.k.a. Posh Spice), 27, will perform her first solo concert for a charity benefit Sunday night at Edinburgh's Festival Theatre, the BBC reports. Concert proceeds will aid local children with special needs.
Ewan McGregor, whose film Black Hawk Down hits theaters across the country this week, gets all fired up about his role, to Ananova:
"To these soldiers, a gun is so second nature they're hardly aware they're even there, whereas for an actor it's like, 'Oooh, it's a gun!'
"I don't particularly like guns, but I have to admit that I quite enjoyed firing them."
Jodie Foster (Panic Room), who's scheduled to make a guest appearance on NBC's Law and Order this season, to Ananova.com:
"I have never been a snob and said television is beneath me. It is always a question of the role."
New York's Ziegfield Theatre will host an advance screening of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on Dec. 13 to benefit Sept. 11 attack victims, Variety reports. The film opens wide Dec. 19.
Charlotte Coleman, 33, star of Four Weddings and a Funeral was found dead of what appears to have been a massive asthma attack in her London flat Wednesday, Reuters reports.
Spice Girl Geri Halliwell is in the spotlight once again. The issue this time is whether or not she was or will be paid for entertaining British troops last month, Reuters reports. While Bernard Jenkin, a spokesperson for Britain's Conservative Party, has complained about government monies going toward the shows, it is unknown whether Halliwell was given a paycheck. "Wealthy performers can and should perform for free,'' Jenkin said.
Nigerian Agbani Darego was crowned Miss World on Friday, making her the first black African woman to hold the title in 51 years, according to Reuters. Out of 93 contestants, 18-year-old Darego beat out Miss Aruba and Miss Scotland for first place. "I've made history," Darego said. "Black is beautiful." The televised pageant, hosted by Jerry Springer, had an estimated 1.2 billion viewers worldwide.
Rodney Dangerfield is celebrating his 80th birthday, and this time he'll get a little respect. The Associated Press reports that Jay Leno and other comics will pay tribute to Dangerfield Wednesday night on NBC's The Tonight Show.
Law & Order producer Dick Wolf has renewed his contract with Studios USA through August 2006, according to Variety. Wolf hopes to make the drama, currently in its 12th season, the longest running series in TV history.
More Beatles memorabilia is up for sale. Reuters reports that the church hall stage where John Lennon met Paul McCartney and the piano used to record hit "Hey Jude" will be available for purchase Nov. 27 in Liverpool, England. The stage and piano are expected to fetch $72,000 and $501,000, respectively.
Waylon Jennings postponed two Arizona concerts this week. after he had leg surgery on Nov. 8 to improve his circulation, AP reports. Jennings suffers from peripheral vascular disease, which makes it difficult for him to walk.
In celebration of Steven Spielberg's film E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, Universal Studios will launch a 13-month celebration of the film's 20-year anniversary, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Universal plans to re-release the film in March, and a DVD release will follow.
Will Smith, whose upcoming film Ali has turned him into a fighting machine in bed, to the World Entertainment News Network:
"I'm human Viagra. I'm Willagra. I'm a sex machine now. I'm raring to go every second of the day. My wife's loving it."
Jack Black, who stars opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in Shallow Hal and sings in the band Tenacious D, to the World Entertainment News Network on which art form he prefers.
"You're asking me to choose between two children, the one that pays more and the one that I secretly love more. With the acting, it's somebody else's brainchild, and I'm just sort of helping flesh it out; with the music, there's a special satisfaction to being the brains behind the operation."