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News, Feb. 27: White House Criticizes CBS, "Buffy" Series Will End, Bruce Willis Stands In for Letterman and More…

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Feb 28, 2003 | 7:16am EST

Top Story: White House No Fan of Dan

Reuters reported yesterday before the broadcast of Dan Rather's 60 Minutes II interview on CBS with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that the White House and CBS News had a round of "he said, she said," over the program. It seems the White House had volunteered a representative to rebut the Iraqi leader's comments, but White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the network refused the offer--unless President Bush himself agreed to appear on the program. CBS News spokeswoman Sandy Genelius denied the charge, saying, "The conversation was never President Bush or no one." She claims the White House initially offered Fleischer, whom CBS rejected (Fleischer says he was never asked). Genelius then said CBS would "be happy to have" either the president, the vice president or Secretary of State Colin Powell. As it was, no one from the U.S. government appeared on the program. CBS believes its coverage put President Hussein's comments in context, and media pundits say the network had no ethical obligation to provide an opposing point of view in the report.

Bruce Willis Stands In for Letterman

Bruce Willis, who stars in the upcoming Tears of the Sun, kindly filled in for Late Show host David Letterman Wednesday night, interviewing Dan Rather, Carmen Electra and singer John Mayer. Willis, who was scheduled to appear on the show as a guest, instead found himself in the host's chair when Letterman's eye infection, noticeable during Tuesday night's broadcast, became too painful--and probably too gross--for network TV.

"Buffy" To End This Season

Sarah Michelle Gellar, the 25-year-old star of the UPN series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has told Entertainment Weekly that this season is the series' last, The Associated Press reports. But fans shouldn't despair; the planned ending is apparently going to be a doozy, and the show's creator, Joss Whedon, is working on spin-off ideas featuring characters from the original.

Donahue Speaks Out

In more news of the "liberal" media, talk show host Phil Donahue had a few words for MSNBC after it canceled his nightly talk show after a mere six months, Variety reports. "We were hoping to break through the noisy drums of war on cable," Donahue reportedy wrote in an e-mail, "and become a platform for dissenters as well as administration supporters." Apparently that doesn't fly well with MSNBC viewers; as we reported yesterday, the network is filling his former time slot with an extended version of Countdown: Iraq.

George Michael Derides Protest Song

Singer George Michael, who's spoken out against war in Iraq and who last summer released the single "Shoot the Dog," depicting British Prime Minister Tony Blair as President Bush's poodle, has said he thinks a planned pop song to protest the war is a really bad idea. The artists putting the project together are too young and too politically naïve, Michael told the BBC's Hardtalk Wednesday. The song, written for the recording by Lee Ryan of the British boy band Blue, is called "Stand Up As People," and it goes a little something like this: "When are we gonna stand up as people/Realize that as people we're all equal/We don't want no world war sequel/For the love of God think of the people." Naïve? Or just plain crap? You decide.

FYI: SAG/AFTRA OK by AFL-CIO

No need for TMI; sometimes acronyms say it all. The AFL-CIO has vetted the merger of the two largest actors' unions into one as-yet-unnamed union. (We bet it will be an acronym.) The decision implies that the AFL-CIO may help advise union leaders as they attempt to gather member votes in favor of the merger this spring.

Role Call: "Guys and Dolls," Denise Richards, Richard Pryor, J.K. Rowling

On the heels of Chicago's enormous success, Miramax has announced it's negotiating for the rights to Guys and Dolls. And speaking of dolls, buxom beauty Denise Richards (Empire) will appear with her husband Charlie Sheen in Dimension Films' Scary Movie 3. Meanwhile, comedian Richard Pryor and writer Bill Grundfest (Mad About You) are nearing a deal with the Showtime cable network to do a pilot about a character based on Pryor. And TV meets the movies meets books when Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling appears as herself on an upcoming episode of The Simpsons set in the UK. The episode will also feature Lord of the Rings star Ian McKellen as an actor playing Macbeth.

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