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News, Jan. 27: Talk Show Host Jack Paar Dies; "Millionaire" Returns to ABC; Britney, Beyonce, Pink Enjoy Pepsi, More…

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Jan 27, 2004 | 1:26pm EST

Top Story: Talk Show Host Paar Dies

Jack Paar, who helped pioneer the late-night talk show popularity by turning the The Tonight Show into a runaway hit in the late '50s, early '60s, died Tuesday in Greenwich, Conn., after battling a long illness and suffering a stroke last year, The Associated Press reports. He was 85. Paar took over the fledgling talker from Steve Allen in 1957, turning it into a late-night staple for viewers across the country. During his run as host, Paar championed such entertainers as Jonathan Winters, Bob Newhart, Carol Burnett, Woody Allen and Bill Cosby and coined the phrase, "I kid you not." Johnny Carson, a rather uncanny Paar look-alike, took over the show in 1962 when Paar decided to pursue other avenues. Carson was at his Malibu, Calif., home when he got word of Paar's death, AP reports. In a statement, he said he was "very saddened to hear of his passing. He was a unique personality who brought a new dimension to late-night television."

ABC To Be Millionaires Again

Two years after it went off the air, ABC is bringing back a special version of the primetime game show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? with host Regis Philbin, The Associated Press reports, for a sweeps event next month. The game show, Super Millionaire, in which contestants will vie for a $10 million prize, will air over course of six days starting Feb. 22.

Britney, Beyonce and Pink Go Pepsi

The trio of pop divas were in London Monday to watch the premiere of the Pepsi commercial they made with Latin heartthrob Enrique Iglesias, which features the classic Queen song "We Will Rock You," Reuters reports. The Gladiator-themed commercial was filmed in Rome with Iglesias in the role of the evil emperor. It was given a Hollywood-style premiere at London's National Gallery, Reuters reports. Spears, signing autographs for hordes of fans, said she was thrilled to work with her co-stars. "It's amazing to work with artists like Pink and Beyonce. It's really, really cool. You want to pinch yourself," she told Reuters. "This was a thrill beyond belief."

Lewis Back to Old Self

A more svelte Jerry Lewis returned home after a three-month hospital stay in Las Vegas, where he shed 50 pounds after undergoing a managed withdrawal from prednisone, the steroid he had been taking for his chronic lung ailment pulmonary fibrosis, Reuters reports. He was discharged from the facility on Jan. 16 and plans to make a return engagement Mar. 3 at Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, where he had been a regular performer before his health worsened nearly three years ago. His publicist said his first show might end up being reserved entirely for family, friends and celebrities, and thus may not be open to the public.

CBS, Fox Pick Up Promising Pilots

In the latest hunt for new shows, CBS chose the comedy The Amazing Westerbergs, which, according to the Hollywood Reporter, comes from Spin City alumni Jay Scherick and David Ronn and chronicles the lives of two twentysomething brothers in Manhattan who were raised to think they could accomplish anything but are confronting a different reality. Meanwhile, Fox decided to give the drama Point Pleasant a try, which is described as Peyton Place meets The Omen, about a beachside community that is turned upside down when a mysterious dead girl washes ashore.

NAACP Fetes Dave Matthews Band

The Dave Matthews Band will receive the special Chairman's Award at the upcoming NAACP Image Awards for its devotion to social and environmental causes and its "dignified representation of people of color," the civil rights group told AP. With the awards, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People honors people and companies that support positive change for people of color in arts and entertainment. The honor will be bestowed at the Mar. 6 awards ceremony in Los Angeles, which will then be broadcast on Fox Mar. 11.

Role Call: Peet, Kutcher in Love, Sarsgaard's Got a Skeleton in His Closet

Amanda Peet and Ashton Kutcher will join forces in the romantic comedy A Lot Like Love. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film revolves around a guy and a girl who manage to resist their mutual attraction over the years only to see fate throwing them back together…Meanwhile, Peter Sarsgaard, getting some attention for his turn in Shattered Glass, is in negotiations to play Kate Hudson's love interest in The Skeleton Key. The trade paper reports the New Orleans-set story follows a young woman (Hudson) who begins to experience spooky things in the home of the elderly couple for whom she's caring.

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