News, Dec. 31: J. Lo Hits Hot List; Katie Holmes, Chris Klein to Wed; 254 Films in Competition for Academy Awards; More…

Top Story: Lopez Tops ET‘s Hot List

Syndicated TV show Entertainment Tonight chose Jennifer Lopez as their No. 1 “Hot List” star of 2003, AP reports. The list is comprised of celebrities who have received the most mentions on the show during the year. Following Lopez, the remaining top 10 was as follows: Jennifer Aniston, Michael Jackson, Ben Affleck, Nicole Kidman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Britney Spears and Demi Moore.

Holmes, Klein Get Engaged

Looks like wedding bells will be ringing for former Dawson’s Creek star Katie Holmes and her honey, American Pie star Chris Klein, a spokesperson for the actress confirmed to on Tuesday. Holmes, 25, and Klein, 24, have been dating for five years. In October, when People magazine asked Holmes of their relationship, she responded: “Things are very good. Thank God.” No wedding date has been set.

254 Films Up for Academy Awards

The 76th Annual Academy Award for Best Picture will be chosen from a list of 254 feature-length films, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Wednesday. To be eligible, a 35 mm, 70 mm or digital film must be longer than 40 minutes and have opened in a commercial theater between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 and run for seven consecutive days. The 76th Academy Award nominations will be announced at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Tuesday, Jan. 27.

Singer’s Death May Not Be Suicide

The stab wounds that killed singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, best known for his 1997 Oscar-nominated single “Miss Misery” from the film Good Will Hunting, could not be officially ruled as self-inflicted by the Los Angeles’ coroner’s office, Reuters reports. Smith, 34, who had been taking anti-depressants and medication for attention deficit disorder at the time, was found in his home in October by his live-in girlfriend, dead from what the police called a suicide. The autopsy report has now left the nature of Smith’s wounds an open question. “The trauma that he sustained could have been inflicted by him or by another and the coroner has not been able to make a determination,” coroner’s spokesman David Campbell told Reuters. Authorities say they will keep the case open upon further investigation.

Fox Airs Simple Life Original

Fox plans to show a one-hour original episode of The Simple Life, which chronicles the lives of rich girls Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie on an Arkansas farm, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m., with the season finale to the reality series airing Jan. 14 at 8:30 p.m.

Jackson Interview Propels CBS to Ratings Win

CBS’ 60 Minutes interview with Michael Jackson helped the network win the ratings race for the week of Dec. 22-28, with nearly 18.8 million viewers tuning in, the AP reports. CBS won the week, averaging 9.7 million viewers followed by ABC (8.1 million); NBC (7.3 million); Fox (6 million); the WB (2.7 million); and UPN (2.6 million). The top 10 shows were: 60 Minutes, CBS; NFL Post Game Show, CBS; NFL Monday Night Football: Green Bay at Oakand, ABC; CSI: Miami, CBS; NFL Monday Showcase, ABC; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS; Two and a Half Men, CBS; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS; Without a Trace, CBS; Law & Order: SVU, NBC.

New Syndicated Sitcoms May Lose to Veterans

As stable comedy sitcoms such as The Bernie Mac Show and Malcolm in the Middle hit the lucrative syndication market, television analysts are saying they may have trouble against veterans such as Seinfeld, Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond. According to the Hollywood Reporter, a report on the sitcom market from New York-based consulting firm Katz Television says the new entries will be competing for slots with veteran reruns that show no signs of fading. This is bad news for sitcom producers and profit participants who usually count on raking in mega-bucks when their shows enter syndication, usually after four years. TV producer Chuck Larsen told the Reporter, “The fact is that most off-network sitcoms do a single cycle in syndication and then move on. It’s very unusual to have this many sitcoms getting such healthy numbers. So if you have four classic sitcoms going through the renewal stage, they will certainly eat up shelf space and so make it more difficult for new shows to work their way onto the air.”