News Roundup

Heigl in Contract Dispute with 'Grey's'

Plus: James Caan, Nikki Cox leaving ''Las Vegas,'' Vincent Pastore quits ''Dancing with the Stars,'' and more...

Katherine Heigl
Katherine Heigl

Grey's star reportedly pulls out of contract talks
Following reports earlier today that Katherine Heigl has pulled out of contract talks with Grey's Anatomy over salary, ABC issued a release expressing surprise over the reports and ensuring that the actress is still under contract and will stay on the show for the foreseeable future. ''Katherine is an integral part of Grey's Anatomy and its success,'' the statement read. ''Fortunately, we have a long term contract to ensure she'll be with the show for several years to come. In recognition of her tremendous talent and value to the show, we recently approached Katherine with an offer to raise her compensation significantly above the terms of her current contract. We were surprised to see this gesture reported negatively in the press, and want to reassure fans that she will continue as Izzie Stevens.''

NBC reups Vegas, minus two stars
NBC will bring back Las Vegas for a fifth season, but without stars James Caan and Nikki Cox. In a statement, Caan, who in the past expressed discontent with being tied down to the series, his first venture into TV, said that he will return to the big screen. ''I've had a wonderful four years, worked with great people and made friends for life working on Las Vegas, but I'm eager to return to where my heart is, which is film, and due to the show's schedule, I missed some great opportunities to do that,'' Caan said. ''I wish the show and everyone involved with it continued success.'' Cox's departure is being described as part of a budget-cutting effort. ''I'm very sad and shocked,'' Cox said through a spokesperson. ''I wish them all the best of luck and had a great time working on the shows.'' Las Vegas is the highest rated show in the 9 p.m. Friday slot in adults 18-49, averaging a 2.8 rating/8 share and 9 million viewers. (Hollywood Reporter)

Downey Jr., Baruchel to star in Stiller-directed comedy
Robert Downey Jr. and Jay Baruchel have been tapped to star in the Ben Stiller-directed comedy Tropic Thunder for DreamWorks and Red Hour. Downey will play Kirk Lazarus, the greatest actor of his generation and a four-time Oscar winner who is caught up in the disastrous filming of a big budget war movie. Baruchel will play an unknown actor on the set. Stiller, Justin Theroux, and Etan Cohen penned the screenplay. Shooting is scheduled to start in July. (Hollywood Reporter)

Sopranos star quits Dancing with the Stars
Vincent Pastore, 60, has withdrawn from the Dancing with the Stars competition after a week of training, saying that the physical demands of the 10-week season would be too much for him. ''When I initially committed to joining Dancing with the Stars, I didn't realize just how physically demanding it would be for me. Unable to put forth my best effort, I felt it appropriate to step aside and give someone else the opportunity,'' Pastore said in a statement. ''I'd like to thank ABC and the show's producers for inviting me to participate. I wish my partner, Edyta, and the other dancers the best of luck.'' Pastore is best known as Salvatore ''Big Pussy'' Bonpensiero on The Sopranos. (People.com)

Victoria Beckham in talks for reality show
Although NBC still won't confirm that it is working on a reality show for Posh, American Idol's Simon Fuller, who is expected to executive produce through 19 Entertainment, commented on the show to a major trade publication as if it is indeed a go. ''This show will cross all genres and hopefully will pleasantly surprise a few people,'' Fuller said in a statement to Daily Variety. Each episode will reportedly focus on Beckham's transition to Los Angeles after her soccer star husband David Beckham signed with the U.S.'s Major League Soccer team the Los Angeles Galaxy earlier this year. The show will explore how Beckham uprooted her publicist, stylist, personal assistant, etc. and set up shop in L.A. The program is being targeted for a potential summer launch. (Variety)

Arkin joins Carell in Get Smart movie
Alan Arkin is joining Steve Carell in the Get Smart movie Peter Segal is directing for Warner Bros. Arkin will play the chief of CONTROL, the organization that fights the evil forces of KAOS. It's the role portrayed by Edward Platt in the 1960s TV series. Carell will play secret agent Maxwell Smart, and Anne Hathaway will portray Agent 99. Dwayne ''The Rock'' Johnson and Terrence Stamp are also on board. (Hollywood Reporter)

Abram's Star Trek movie set for December 2008 release
Paramount will release J.J. Abrams' Star Trek XI, a prequel focusing on a young Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, on Christmas Day 2008. Abrams is scheduled to begin shooting in the fall. He will produce the project with his Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. It will be the first Trek movie since 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, which grossed a disappointing $63.7 million worldwide. (Variety)

HBO, David Simon doing miniseries on Iraq war
HBO is moving forward on Generation Kill, a seven-hour scripted miniseries based on Evan Wright's nonfiction book of the same name about U.S. Marines fighting in the Iraq war. David Simon and Ed Burns (The Wire) will co-write and executive produce with George Faber and Charles Pattinson (Elizabeth I, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers). Shooting is set to begin this summer in Namibia, Mozambique, and South Africa. (Variety)

Monaghan joining Dempsey in romantic comedy
Michelle Monaghan has been cast alongside fellow Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey in the Paul Weiland-directed romantic comedy Made of Honor. The story is about Tom (Dempsey) and Claire (Monaghan), platonic friends for 10 years when Claire gets engaged. She asks Tom to be her ''maid'' of honor, and he agrees so he can stop the wedding and tell her that she's the one before it's too late. Shooting is slated for April. (Hollywood Reporter)

Lucy Liu signs onto ABC pilot
Liu will take her first major role in a TV series since Ally McBeal for ABC's drama pilot Cashmere Mafia. Following a recent guest appearance on ABC's Ugly Betty, Liu has signed on to play Dylan, one of the four female execs and buddies who make up the New York-based drama's ''mafia.'' (Variety)

Remake of Scanners in the works
Dimension Films is working on a remake of David Cronenberg's 1981 horror classic Scanners with Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II and III) directing. David Goyer will write the script. The story is about a scientist who infiltrates an underground movement of ''scanners'' who use their telepathic abilities as lethal weapons. The original featured an exploding head in its final scenes. The project is scheduled to begin in early 2008, following Bousman's direction of Saw IV and the rock opera Repo. (Variety)

Fox and Idol beat ABC and the Oscars
Grey's Anatomy and the Oscars telecast helped ABC score its best week of ratings since it aired the 2006 Super Bowl, but it wasn't enough to prevent American Idol from carrying the week for Fox, which won in adults 18-34, adults 18-49, and total viewers. (Hollywood Reporter)

ABC extends Jimmy Kimmel through 2010
A new deal with latenight host Jimmy Kimmel will keep him at ABC one year past NBC's scheduled Tonight Show transition from Jay Leno to Conan O'Brien in 2009. Jimmy Kimmel Live is up 12 percent compared to last year in total viewers and up 17 percent in adults 18-49, making it the only latenight talk show to post gains in the demo. (Variety)

Adult Swim ratings boom following Boston marketing scare
Ratings for Comedy Central's Adult Swim lineup has broke basic cable viewership records since making headlines when a guerilla marketing campaign for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie caused officials in Boston to go into anti-terrorism mode. Adult Swim set basic cable monthly records in total-day delivery in adults 18-34 (460,000, up 28 percent compared with February 2006), adults 18-24 (280,000, up 32 percent), males 18-34 (283,000, up 25 percent) and males 18-24 (169,000, up 20 percent). It also extended its streak as the No. 1 channel among males 18-24 to 23 consecutive months and ranked third among basic cable networks for total-day delivery in adults 18-49. An Adult Swim spokesperson attributed the increases to marathons of acquired series Family Guy and Futurama. Aqua Teen saw only a slight increase after the promotional stunt and wasn't likely a factor in February's ratings jump. (Hollywood Reporter)

Destiny's Williams headed to Color Purple in Chicago
Destiny's Child's Michelle Williams has been cast in Chicago's 26-week production of The Color Purple. Williams, a native of Chicago suburb Rockford, IL, previously appeared on Broadway in the musical Aida. (Chicago Tribune)

GreeneStreet, Katz to adapt Cosmo editor's novel
GreeneStreet Films and producer Ross Katz, the team behind In the Bedroom, are reuniting to create a movie adaptation of John Searles' mystery novel Strange but True. The team also worked together on Adverbs, the upcoming adaptation of a Daniel Handler novel about gay and straight affairs. Searles is deputy editor at Cosmopolitan magazine. Strange is his second novel. (Hollywood Reporter)

Michael Jackson not shopping a Las Vegas show
Reps for Michael Jackson issued a press release to Access Hollywood explaining that although the singer has moved to Las Vegas, rumors saying he is shopping a show in the city are untrue. The release also debunked rumors that the singer is planning a tour with members of his family, that he is appearing on American Idol, and that he recently recorded a single with Pras. (Access Hollywood)

IN THE GOSSIPS

Page Six: Mark Ruffalo went out of his way to be kind to reporters at a screening of Zodiac.

Liz Smith: P. Diddy tried to get Forest Whitaker to loosen up a little with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot at an Oscars after-party.

Rush & Molloy: 50 Cent filed papers in family court asking to formalize his child support arrangement with his son's mother.

Ben Widdicombe: Bobby Brown didn't look so good while partying at a Boston club the night before he was arrested for failing to appear at a child-support hearing.

Originally posted Feb 28, 2007
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