Bullock donates $1 million
Sandra Bullock is encouraging Hollywood's millionaires to give generously to the post-tsunami relief effort in Asia after donating $1 million to help support emergency groups. The actress contacted the American Red Cross last week and asked how she could help, according to the Hollywood Reporter. This is the second time the generous star has handed over $1 million to the charity--she donated a similar amount after the terrorist attacks on America in 2001. A Red Cross spokesman says, "Sandra continues to enable our lifesaving work and is a model for personal generosity."
Fox: 'I'm not Lil' Jon's wife'
Actress Vivica A. Fox has rubbished reports she's married rapper Lil' Jon. The Kill Bill beauty insists she's baffled by rumors she's tied the knot with the hip-hop star--and she's desperate to inform her fans of the truth. She says, "I am not married to Lil' Jon and I definitely need folks to know that." Fox famously dated rapper 50 Cent before the pair suffered a very public break-up.
Ford is top granddad
Harrison Ford has been named Hollywood's sexiest grandfather in new pensioners magazine Grand.
The movie star, 62, beat Goldie Hawn, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger and Naomi Judd to take the top spot in Grand's February issue.
Foxx wins the black vote
Jamie Foxx and his hit film Ray have been honored again--by the African-American Film Critics Association. Oscar-favorite Foxx was named best actor for his roles in Collateral and
Ray. Meanwhile, the Ray Charles biopic beat Hotel Rwanda and The Aviator to claim the best film honor.
Oprah is U.S top TV pick
Oprah Winfrey has been crowned America's popularity queen after beating Michael Jackson, Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lopez in a new TV list. Top showbiz news program Entertainment Tonight mentioned Winfrey's name more than anyone else during the course of 2004--thanks to her 50th birthday celebrations and $7 million car giveaways. Jackson came in second with Aniston beating her namesake to third. Socialite Paris Hilton was fifth.
Pitt's partner lands Paramount post
Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston's film-making partner Brad Grey is set to quit the trio's successful company after being handed the top role at Paramount Studios. Grey set up Plan B Prods. with Pitt two years ago after formerly managing the movie star and his wife as the owner of powerful agency Brillstein-Grey. Plan B has enjoyed much success and Grey is expected to remain to complete Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and one other movie. The Hollywood heavyweight is poised to take over retiring Paramount head Sherry Lansing's job later this year.
Jackson wanted for Pacey resurrection
Actor Joshua Jackson is being targeted by TV bosses eager to bring his Dawson's Creek character back to the small screen. Jackson rocketed to fame playing troubled teen Pacey Whitter in the show--which ran from 1998 to 2003--about four friends in a small coastal town who help each other cope with adolescence. And now TV chiefs are offering Jackson a lucrative contract in an effort to tempt the actor--who is pursuing a film career after scoring success in movies like Cruel Intentions and The Skulls--back into the role for a spin-off series, according to British newspaper the Daily Star.
Arquette convinced psychics can help
Actress Patricia Arquette signed up to play a clairvoyant in new TV series Medium because she's convinced psychics can help people. Far from a skeptic, Arquette admits she has called on phone psychics on four occasions to help her make life decisions and get answers to mysteries. She says, "I called once when my mom was ill and I got offered a movie and I was going to be out of town and I said, 'I have a job opportunity out of town and I'm not sure if I should take it.' Meanwhile, my friend had heard her ex-boyfriend had gone missing... and he said, 'Well he's lost at sea,' and it turned out he drowned but nobody knew. They told me, 'No. Don't take that show.' And my mom ended up getting sick at that time. Another time, someone had stolen something and they described the people who'd just been fired at this workplace." In the new drama series, which debuted Monday night, Arquette speaks to the dead to help police solve crimes.
Sarandon refuses to discuss Robbins romance
Susan Sarandon has warned celebrities they're heading for heartache if they continue to boast about their relationships in the media. The actress, 58, refuses to divulge the secrets of her long-running romance with actor Tim Robbins--who she's been dating for 17 years--because she fears exposing such intimate details could have disastrous consequences. Sarandon says, "My formula for a successful relationship is never to talk about a successful formula, because it's bound to go wrong. At a certain point you have to decide that you are going to be with this person, and not be looking towards the door to see who else is coming in, in case they're better. I don't know when that point comes--maybe it's to do with age, or maybe it's who you're with. But you do have to decide to grow with them, and hopefully they will grow with you, too."
Murray slams difficult reputation stories
Bill Murray has slammed accusations he is difficult to work with, insisting he only clashes with "obnoxious people". The Lost In Translation actor has little time for those who lack consideration for others. Murray says, "If it keeps obnoxious people away, that's fine. It makes me think of that line you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. People say this to you with a straight face, and I always say, 'Who. Wants. Flies?'" Murray roots for the underdog and crossed swords with the location manager on his last movie over his attempts to heat a rented house where child actors were performing their scenes. Of the fracas on the untitled Jim Jarmusch flick, he says, "(I said) 'Who are you?' She said, 'I'm locations.' I said, 'Well, if locations had done their job and made sure it was warm enough for these people, we wouldn't be lighting a fire in the fireplace.'" At the wrap party, Murray approached the woman again, "I said, 'You know, we had our moment, and I don't apologize for that for a second.'" However, he congratulated her on excelling at other aspects of her job and adds, "I wanted to let her know I could see it both ways."
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Will Will Truman get lucky? Will Chandler and Monica tie the knot? Will Dawson and Pacey make up? And what's up with "Popular"?!
Those are some of the questions that have been posed and that will be answered during the fall season of television.
Herein is a critique of the fall seasons of 10 TV series that Hollywood.com staffers watch on a weekly basis:
"Will & Grace," NBC, Thursdays, 9 p.m. ET
Is "Will & Grace," the as-of-late-sometimes-hilarious sitcom about a gay man named Will Truman (Eric McCormack, who looks tan and really sexy this season), his best gay friend Jack McFarland (the always funny, over the top Emmy winner Sean Hayes), his best female friend Grace Adler (Debra Messing), and her lush of a socialite "employee" Karen Walker (Emmy winner Megan Mullally), falling from, er, grace this season? "Will & Grace" sadly has been spotty since its Emmy win for Best Comedy. McCormack has said that Will will date this season and have a number of boyfriends. The guest spot a few weeks back by Patrick Dempsey as one of those alleged future boyfriends was funny, and the exchange among Dempsey, McCormack and Hayes in Banana Republic (dancer-actor-singer-choreographer Jack is now a Banana Republic sales associate, headphones and all) was witty and pretty and ... well, you know. But last week's much-hyped guest spot by Cher was totally disappointing. The writing was weak for most of the episode, guest star Camryn Manheim was wasted and Cher appeared in only the last few minutes. What we needed was a half hour of "Jack & Cher." Here's hoping that Will hooks up with Mr. Banana Republic. Life is about the Banana, after all. Go, girlfriend. Grade: B-
"Friends," NBC, Thursdays, 8 p.m. ET
Some shows grind to a halt after two characters get together, but the pairing of Monica (Courteney Cox Arquette) and Chandler (Matthew Perry), who are set to wed this season, has created more hijinks than ever. They have created the funniest storylines of the season: Monica consults an elaborate wedding binder she's been keeping since 4th grade, only to find out that her parents spent her wedding fund on a beach house. Chandler keeps having embarrassing moments with his future father-in-law (Elliott Gould) and finds that he can't smile in photographs. Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) compete for maid of honor (Phoebe wins, but lets Rachel do it because it means more to her). Meanwhile, the non-wedding-related storylines have fallen to the wayside: Rachel has hired a cute younger assistant she can't date; Joey's pilot gets canceled, and Phoebe just found out that her grandmother's secret cookie recipe is from Nestle Tollhouse. Ross (David Schwimmer), other than a memory-lane kiss with Rachel, is so far unlucky in love. But, in the funniest episode of the season, he finds an unlikely snuggling partner in Joey when the two accidentally nap together -- and like it. Grade: B+
"The West Wing," NBC, Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET
This Emmy winner started its second season with a bang -- quite literally. After the cliffhanger from the end of the first season, wherein President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) were shot, the two-hour opener took viewers from the present to the past. The episode cleverly gave the audience the background of why Bartlet first got on the campaign trail and showed how his extraordinary staff was assembled, all while juxtaposed with the assassination crisis. And the show doesn't seem to be stopping, creating scenarios that mirror the current social and political climate -- including some controversial racial conflict. The cast is still outstanding -- including Emmy winners Allison Janney as Press Secretary C.J. Cregg and Richard Schiff as Communications Director Toby Ziegler. Guest spots by the likes of Timothy Busfield and John Laroquette added heart and intensity to the behind-the-scenes storylines. But the heart of the show remains Sheen as the wise and truthful President Bartlet, and given the current real-life situation in the political world, Bartlet would be considered a godsend. Grade: A
"Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS, Mondays, 9 p.m. ET
Though "Everybody Loves Raymond" does not tend to build upon storylines episode to episode, it has shown some resourcefulness this season. Bringing in guest stars such as Robert Culp as Debra Barone's (Emmy winner Patricia Heaton) dad was a nice touch, especially when it led to a hilarious dispute between in-laws. But the show has been quite hit-or-miss lately. Ray (Ray Romano) developing a fear of germs, for example -- interesting but not funny, especially for a character who already has three young children. Just a breakdown of logic there. Ray's brother Robert, the divorced cop (played with deadpan precision by Brad Garrett), has also been curiously underused thus far. Grade: B-
"ER," NBC, Thursdays, 10 p.m. ET
The best thing America's top drama -- for the past six seasons -- has done so far is not add any new characters. Drs. Greene and Corday (Anthony Edwards and Alex Kingston) have gotten engaged; Dr. Kovac (the very hunky Goran Visjnic) is feeling guilt over a guy he accidentally killed during a mugging; and Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle) is back from rehab and peeing in a cup whenever he's asked. Dr. Chen (Ming-Na) is pregnant by a doctor at another hospital; Dr. Benton (Eriq LaSalle) lost his surgical attending position and is now "demoted" to an ER post; and there are hints that Dr. Weaver (Laura Innes) is mulling a lesbian relationship. Oh yes, and they treat people, too. The strongest episodes are still the medical-oriented cases, especially the 22-week-old "miracle baby" who survived nearly an entire day. Medical student/nurse Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney) is emerging as the emotional core, letting us miss Sherry Stringfield and Julianna Margulies a little less. What's left to do is to use more of Michael Michele, who plays pediatric resident Dr. Cleo Finch. "ER" is not consistently great, but it still keeps our pulses pounding. Grade: B
"Dawson's Creek," WB, Wednesdays, 8 p.m. ET
Last year ended with Joey (Katie Holmes) sailing into the sunset with Pacey (Joshua Jackson), leaving her best friend/soul mate Dawson (James Van Der Beek) weeping and alone. It's a good choice because Holmes and Jackson have decidedly better chemistry, and although they dispense the same amount of SAT-filled sentences (meanwhile Pacey is flunking school) as Joey and Dawson, this new couple have snappier arguments/flirtations. This season: Joey's repairing her friendship with Dawson, who's trying to move on by taking pictures and finding a new confidante in Pacey's older sister (Sasha Alexander), particularly after his parents discover that they're having another baby. Pacey and Dawson take (very small) steps toward reconciliation after the former's boat is swept into a storm and the latter risks his neck to save him. Jen (Michelle Williams) is temporarily ostracized from the group -- and from best friend Jack (Kerr Smith) -- when she lets the already medicated Andie (Meredith Monroe) try Ecstasy at a rave, causing her to collapse and nearly die. But it's Andie who gives the fractured group a chance to heal again when she announces that she's leaving Capeside to spend the rest of the year in Italy (she already got into Harvard early, dontcha know). In her tearjerking farewell, she implores her friends to make up, and it looks as if they will. Grade: B+
"Frasier," NBC, Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET
In the early '90s -- in its third season -- "Seinfeld" began to structure its episodes around the supporting characters, not the title character. Suddenly, the same seems true about "Frasier." While the love affair between Niles (David Hyde Pierce) and Daphne (Jane Leeves) seemed to be the hook to get viewers back into the show early this fall, it remained the hook throughout most of the season. And it worked. Their relationship has spawned a number of morose storylines thus far, with ex-wives and ex-fiancees plotting against the likable couple, but Frasier himself seems to have been pushed aside, stuck with adequate conflicts such as his displeasure with his wealthy new boss. But it still works. And Niles pretending to still be married in social circles is surprisingly hilarious each time. Grade: B+
"Spin City," ABC, Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET
No, you can't blame Charlie Sheen alone for "Spin City's" decline in popularity. It really comes down to the writing. Only one episode of "Spin City" this fall has been impressive -- the one where Sheen and Heather Locklear lock horns on the set of "Live With Regis" -- but little else has proven to be much of a surprise. Sure, Sheen's character, the deputy mayor of New York, is narcissistic, and yes, he has a tainted history with drugs, but didn't we already expect that? It's not Sheen's fault that this sort of cliched writing took place. It's not Locklear's fault that she has little chemistry with him. And it's not the viewers' fault for wanting to change the channel - even though it means the certain demise of one of their previously most beloved shows. We miss ya, Mike. Grade: C-
"Popular," WB, Fridays, 9 p.m. ET
The WB's "Popular" is one of the most underrated and funniest shows on television. It's sad that it's been relegated to a Friday night spot. The show boasts a fabulous ensemble cast of pretty people vs. Everyday people, although the two sides have been mingling more and more. School stud turned social pariah Josh Ford (Bryce Johnson) has hooked up with tree-hugger Lily Esposito (Tamara Mello) after the pair rescued a gay chimpanzee from the L.A. Zoo. It's a lame pairing, but player-player Josh has already hooked up with the rest of the ladies on the show, so I guess Lil' Lily was next. Alarming this season: Instead of funny gags such as kidnapping Gwyneth Paltrow's personal shopper and competing ruthlessly for Homecoming Queen, "Popular" has turned to Very Special Episodes. Harrison John (Christopher Gorham) is battling leukemia, Nicole Julian (Tammy Lynn Michaels) has cried ... twice(!) ... over her fall from popularity, Carmen Ferrera's (Sara Rue) mother is an alcoholic, and both reigning Homecoming Queen Brooke McQueen (Leslie Bibb) and Mike "Sugar Daddy" Bernadino are battling eating disorders. Not very funny stuff. This season has been more about tears over sadness and struggles rather than laughter. As Mary Cherry (the always hilarious Leslie Grossman) would say, let's get some laughs back, hon. And pronto! Grade: B-
"Ally McBeal," Fox, Mondays, 9 p.m. ET
After a disappointing third season, David E. Kelley's series was in need of some serious spice. Kelley tried everything to raise ratings, from a lesbian lip-lock to some full-blown musical mishmash, but nothing could save the sinking show. In a final act of desperation, Kelley brought in a fresh-from-the-cell Robert Downey Jr. Little did Kelley know that the criminal element would bring such critical success this fall. As a cute, clever attorney named Larry, Downey's straight but sarcastic delivery is the perfect foil for Ally's (Calista Flockhart) high-strung hysteria. He steals every scene with his flawless timing, then punctuates even the simplest sentence with that trademark sexy smirk. Downey may have been sent in to rekindle the spark, but his presence has set the show on fire and made "Ally McBeal" a must-see on Monday nights again. Grade: B+
Reviews by Jason Alcorn, Kit Bowen, Tracey Pollack, Ellen A. Kim and Don Chareunsy.