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Humorist Art Buchwald dies

Plus: Topher Grace joins ”Source Code,” Timothy Olyphant tapped for ”Hit Man,” and more…

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Art Buchwald
Art Buchwald: Theo Westenberger/Getty Images

Art Buchwald dead at 81
The Pulitzer Prize-winning political humorist and author of some 30 books passed away late Wednesday night at his son’s home. Buchwald began his six-decade career in Paris before moving to the U.S. to satire American politics and culture from Washington D.C. His newspaper column was syndicated in more than 550 papers at the height of his career. He won the Pulitzer for Commentary in 1982. He also made headlines in the late-1980s when he sued Paramount Pictures, claiming it stole his script idea for the Eddie Murphy movie Coming to America. He won a settlment in the case. Buchwald entered hospice last year after refusing dialysis treatments for his failing kidneys. He was expected to die in weeks. Instead, Buchwald wrote a book about the end of his life, Too Soon to Say Goodbye, which was published in November and included eulogies from friends who thought he would die much sooner than he did. (Reuters)

Topher Grace to star in Source Code
Universal has tapped the actor to star in its upcoming sci-fi thriller. Mark Gordon is producing. The story is about time travel, but no other details were made available. Grace will also executive produce with partner Gordon Kaywin. The actor has been busy of late: He will next appear in Spider-Man 3 as the villain Venom; he will star in Kids in America, which he is executive producing; and he is producing and starring in Cockblockers, which also features Seann William Scott. (Variety)

Olyphant tapped for Hit Man
Deadwood‘s Timothy Olyphant has been cast to star as Agent 47 in the Luc Besson-produced Twentieth Century Fox movie. The actor’s deal allows for sequels. The movie’s Skip Woods-penned script is based on the Hit Man video game. Vin Diesel was originally set to play the lead, but he opted out to do Fox’s Babylon A.D. Production on Hit Man is scheduled to begin in March. (Variety)

CBS gives Survivor two new editions
Despite a slide in the ratings, next season will see two cycles of Survivor, the 15th and 16th overall. Mark Burnett and Tom Shelly stay on as executive producers, with Jeff Probst hosting. (Variety)

NBC picks up new series from Idol producers
NBC has ordered six episodes of Thank God You’re Here, an improvisational comedy series from FremantleMedia North America, the producers of American Idol. The show will have celebrities perform improv skits in competition with each other. David Alan Grier will host, and Dave Foley will serve as judge. The celebrities on the pilot episode are Jennifer Coolidge, Bryan Cranston, Joel McHale, and Wayne Knight. NBC has also ordered full seasons of Heroes, The Office, and My Name is Earl. (Variety)

Lindsay Lohan checks into rehab
The actress has checked into rehab, according to her publicist. ”I have made a proactive decision to take care of my personal health,” she said in a statement. ”I appreciate your well wishes and ask that you please respect my privacy at this time.” In December, Lohan’s publicist announced that the actress was attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. (Hollywood Reporter)

New Line adapting Material Breach
The studio has acquired rights to John Winston’s political thriller and is in talks with John Moore to direct. It’s a story about a secret government group that brings in a man who has been accused of terrorist acts to help plan attacks on Washington. (Variety)

Lost episodes coming to Web and mobile phone
Starting in July, the show will offer two- to three-minute special episodes via the Web and mobile phone. The short episodes will feature the Lost cast. (Variety)

Digital music sales exploded in 2006
Music download sales nearly doubled worldwide in 2006 to $2 billion. Digital music still only accounts for 10 percent of the global market, however, and music execs say the digital boom has not offset the steep slide in CD sales in recent years. (Hollywood Reporter)

Dreamgirls soundtrack stays at No. 1
The soundtrack remained in the top spot for the second straight week despite slipping to 60,000 units sold, down from 66,000 the previous week. (Hollywood Reporter)

Keith Urban hitting the road
The country singer has left rehab after a three-month stint and is planning a world tour to promote his new record, Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing, which debuted at No. 3 on U.S. pop charts after its Nov. 7 release. The tour is scheduled to start in April. Urban was recently seen with wife Nicole Kidman at a Golden Globes after-party. (Hollywood Reporter)

HarperCollins closing Regan division
HarperCollins is closing its Century City offices, headed by Judith Regan. The Regan imprint recently made news when it proposed, and then spiked, an OJ Simpson book and TV special that would exploit synergies with parent company News Corp. Releases still in the works will come out under the HarperCollins name, not Regan. (Variety)

DiCaprio speaks out for Scorsese
Leonardo DiCaprio says that it is ”almost a practical joke at this point” that director Martin Scorsese has never won an Oscar. Even with momentum building after Scorsese’s The Departed won a Golden Globe for Best Film, the director says he does not have expectations heading into the Oscars. (Reuters)

IN THE GOSSIPS

Page Six: Prior to rehab, Lindsay Lohan was found passed out in a hotel hallway at 6 a.m. following Prince’s Golden Globes after-party.

Liz Smith: In other Lohan news, Smith says some people doubt Lohan ever had an appendix problem and is really more of a hypochondriac.

Rush & Molloy: Hugh Hefner wants to become a father again at 80 years old.