News, Nov. 4: CBS Pulls Reagan Miniseries, Tenacious D To Pull Starvation Stunt, Britney Pulls Out of MTV Event, More…

Top Story: CBS Nixes Reagan Miniseries

CBS has canceled the upcoming miniseries The Reagans, Reuters reports. The official statement from the Viacom Inc.-owned network said the decision was “based solely on our reaction to seeing the final film, not the controversy that erupted around a draft of the script,” referring to a report in the New York Times that said the final copy of the script portrayed the Reagans in an unflattering light. CBS also said that the four-hour final version of the movie failed to “present a balanced portrayal” of former President Ronald Reagan (played by James Brolin) and his wife, Nancy (played by Judy Davis), and that subsequent changes that the network had considered “did not address those concerns.” Rather than broadcast the two-part miniseries as originally planned on Nov. 16 and 18, CBS said it has reached a deal with Showtime to license rights to the film.

Tenacious D To Pull Starvation Stunt

Are they serious? In what appears to be a goof on illusionist David Blaine’s recent stunt in which he went without food for weeks while suspended in a transparent box, the rock group Tenacious D’s Jack Black and Kyle Gass announced Monday that they would begin a 45-day hunger strike to promote their DVD The Complete Masterworks, reports. Black and Gass, dressed in silver superhero costumes, told reporters at a press conference in New York City that they will reside in a seven-by three-by seven-foot glass box suspended 50 yards above Times Square at the intersection of 45th Street and Broadway, supplied only with water, a red cell phone and a guitar. The intersection is the location of MTV studios, where they appeared on Monday’s episode of Total Request Live. Black quipped, “If we need extra nourishment, we will live off each others’ rock.”

The Number One Reason To Take a Day Off

David Letterman skipped work Monday to be with his girlfriend, who went into labor with their first child. Bandleader Paul Shaffer took over Late Night hosting duties for Letterman last minute and told the audience: “If you’re feeling that there’s something wrong with this picture–you’re seeing me–because Dave is at the hospital waiting for his baby to be delivered!” As of Tuesday morning Letterman‘s spokesperson had not returned a phone call from AP about the baby.

Spears Won’t Perform at MTV Europe Awards

No girl-on-girl kiss for the European crowd. Britney Spears, who shared an open-mouthed kiss with Madonna at the MTV Video Music Awards in September, has pulled out of the MTV Europe Music Awards airing Thursday due to the flu, Reuters reports. “Unfortunately, she is not well. We are disappointed she won’t be attending, but we wish her well for a speedy recovery,” an MTV spokeswoman told Reuters. Her ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, who has been nominated in five categories, will attend, as will Christina Aguilera, who is set to the host the show.

Jackson May Do Music Special

Michael Jackson is in talks with CBS to perform in a music special, Reuters reports. The show would air Nov. 26 to coincide with the release of his latest greatest hits collection, Number Ones. A November “sweeps” Jackson special in 2001, celebrating the pop star’s 30 years as a solo artist, was a major ratings success for CBS, drawing more than 25 million viewers.

NBC Uncouples With Coupling

Another one bites the dust. The racy new sitcom Coupling, based on the hit British series of the same name, has been canceled by NBC, AP reports. The American version–about the mix-and-match romances of six single friends–received low ratings and poor critical reviews. To cover its 9:30 p.m. Thursday time slot during the crucial November ratings sweeps, the network is “supersizing” the sitcoms Friends, Will & Grace and Scrubs, adding a few minutes to each, AP reports.

King Finishes Dark Tower

Stephen King has completed the final three installments of his The Dark Tower series, AP reports. Ever on the cutting edge, King made the announcement through a “virtual” version of himself on his Web site. “People have been asking one question above all others over the past nine years: When are you going to finish The Dark Tower? Well, guess what–it’s done. So do me a favor and spread the word,” King said. The Gunslinger, the first Dark Tower book, was published in 1982, followed by The Drawing of the Three in 1987; The Waste Lands in 1991; and Wizard and Glass in 1997.

Role Call: Chainsaw Director in Need

After wowing ’em with the box office hit Texas Chainsaw Massacre, first-time director Marcus Nispel has landed his next gig, helming Paramount Pictures’ Need. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the thriller is based on David Lawrence’s novel of the same name about a successful New York therapist who discovers that one of her patients–a suicidal woman–is having an affair with her husband. Diane Lane is in final negotiations to play the therapist.