News Roundup: Jan. 3

She’s not a little girl anymore: pop diva Britney Spears and boyfriend, ‘N Sync lead singer Justin Timberlake, were seen steaming up the dance floor Sunday at the chic Cheetah nightclub in New York, according to The Post. The couple were celebrating singer Inaya Day’s new release “Can’t Stop Dancing” and stayed at the club well past 4 a.m. In related news, Spears’ adult image is certainly popular with fans, as an X-rated T-shirt featuring her and fellow pop diva Christina Aguilera has become a top seller for 2001 at a leading retailer, Sky News reports.

In General

Oscar-winning producer Julia Phillips, best known for such ’70s hits as The Sting (1973), Taxi Driver (1976) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), died of cancer Monday in her Hollywood home. She was 57. Two children, Kate and Matthew, survive Phillips.

John Corbett, who plays the hunk Aidan on the hit HBO series Sex in the City, says he can’t give away any secrets about next season, especially whether Aidan will end up marrying Carrie, played by Sarah Jessica Parker–not even to his family. Corbett told The Associated Press, “You have to watch it just like my mom.”

Ron Howard‘s film A Beautiful Mind, based on a book by Sylvia Nassar about real-life Nobel Prize winner John Nash Jr., omitted one important fact: Nash’s bisexuality. Russell Crowe commented to Entertainment Weekly, “It was relevant to his character, but we didn’t want to imply that there was any possibility that schizophrenia and homosexuality are related.”

Showtime’s Queer as Folk, the cable channel highest-rated series, which details the lives of a group of gay men, has been renewed for a second season, beginning Jan. 6. Creators Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman, who feared the conservative public would rail against their show, which involves sexual explicit scenes, have received mostly positive feedback from fans.

Funky R&B singer Macy Gray claims it’s “impossible” to describe herself in one word. Gray told Rosie O’Donnell in Rosie magazine if she could change one thing about herself it would be her feet. “I wish [they] were smaller.”

CBS has won the ratings race for the holiday week ending Dec. 31 with powerhouse episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Survivor: Africa. NBC won the 18-49 demographic with encore showings of It’s a Wonderful Life and reruns of their hit series, including Friends and The West Wing.

Sony Corp will be paying over $70 million for nearly all of the international distribution rights to the third cyborg installment Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film, already the most expensive film to be greenlit for production at $170 million, begins shooting in April.

David Lynch‘s twisted Mulholland Drive and Christopher Nolan’s quirky Memento tied for the Online Film Critics Society’s best film of 2001. Other accolades went to Lynch as best director for Mulholland Drive and Billy Bob Thornton for best actor in The Man Who Wasn’t There.

USA Network has given a 22-episode order to a new series The Dead Zone, based on Stephen King‘s novel of the same name and set to star Anthony Michael Hall. The cable channel will pay close to $1 million per episode, making it one of the richest series deal to date.

CNN’s legal affairs analyst Greta Van Susteren will be jumping ship and heading to bitter rival Fox News Channel, a CNN spokesman confirmed Wednesday. Van Susteren’s popular CNN show The Point will continue with CNN Capitol Hill correspondent Kate Snow replacing Van Susteren for the time being.