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Imus back on the air Dec. 3

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Don Imus
Chip East/Reuters/Corbis

Imus taking WABC morning drive slot
Citadel Broadcasting Corp. announced Thursday (Nov. 1) that Don Imus will return to the airwaves on Dec. 3, taking over the morning drive time slot on WABC-AM, based in New York. Imus was banished from the airwaves last April after making racially insensitive comments about the mostly-black members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team. The announcement confirms rumors that had been swirling for months about Imus’ return. The jock will again broadcast with his longtime newsman, Charles McCord, and other members of his morning team. There was no specific mention of Bernard McGuirk, the producer who instigated Imus on the Rutgers comment and was fired as well. Financial details were not made available and there was no mention of a TV syndication deal. Imus’ last radio show, Imus in the Morning, aired on TV in 70 markets as well as on MSNBC. Imus will replace WABC-AM’s current morning team, Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby, who had hosted the drive-time show for nearly eight years. Kuby said he was told Thursday afternoon not to show up for work on Friday. Rev. Al Sharpton, who was a harsh critic of Imus after his statements about the Rutgers team, responded to the announcement of his return by saying that Citadel needs to meet with advertisers and black groups to explain how the company plans to prevent the radio host’s return to ”his former vile and biased behavior.” Other groups, including the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Organization for Women, previously responded to the rumors of Imus’ return, saying his being put back on the air just months after he was fired was nearly as insulting as the crude comments that took him off the air in the first place. (AP via Yahoo!)

WGA committee votes to strike
The Writers Guild of America’s negotiating committee voted on Thursday (Nov. 1) night in favor of going on strike after failing to come to terms on a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. The writers’ last contract expired midnight Wednesday. A final decision could come as early as today during meetings of the WGA West board and the WGA East Council. There has been no specification as to when the strike would begin, but most insiders predict Monday as the starting day. The effect of a strike would be felt almost immediately on late night television, which would probably go dark. Other scripted shows would feel the effects in the next few weeks, possibly eliminating back nine orders and ending some shows’ seasons by the end of the year or shortly thereafter. The outcome of the negotiations will likely cause ripple effects within the Directors Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild, both of which will be negotiating their own contracts in coming months. (Variety)

All My Children star cast as Knight Rider
Justin Bruening, who plays Jamie Martin on ABC soap opera All My Children, has been cast as the title character in NBC’s two-hour backdoor pilot Knight Rider. Inspired by the 1980s series, starring David Hasselhoff in the lead role of Michael Knight, the pilot is slated to air as a movie later in the season. Bruening will play Knight’s son in the new show. Like Bruening, Hasselhoff was a soap star (The Young & the Restless) with few other credits when he landed Knight Rider, which ran on NBC from 1982-86, and he was about the same age as Bruening, who is 28. Steve Shill (Spike TV’s Kill Point) will direct the telepic pilot, which could lead to a new Knight Rider series, if it does well. (Hollywood Reporter)

Whitaker producing gangster series for Showtime
Forest Whitaker will serve as executive producer on Showtime’s upcoming drama series Mr. Untouchable, which will chronicle the true story of Harlem heroin dealer Leroy ”Nicky” Barnes. Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Barnes in Ridley Scott’s film American Gangster, which opens today. He was an associate of Frank Lucas, the focus of Scott’s movie, portrayed by Denzel Washington. The two projects have no connection other than subject matter. The Showtime series will tell the story of how Barnes built a drug empire in the 1970s that rivaled that of the Italian Mafia and show how his great success came at the expense of his Harlem community. It will also detail the government’s war on drugs and how it failed for years to bring Barnes down. Whitaker previously executive produced and starred in Showtime’s Anne Rice mini Feast of All Saints, and last month he set up a drama project at FX. (Variety)

X-Men‘s Marsden in talks to star with Diaz in Box
James Marsden, who played Cyclops in the X-Men trilogy, is in final negotiations to star opposite Cameron Diaz in writer/director Richard Kelly’s (Donnie Darko) horror movie The Box. The story is about an unhappily married couple (Marsden and Diaz) who receive a box from a stranger. They’re told if they push a button on the box, they’ll receive a hefty amount of cash, but that someone they don’t know will die. The story is adapted from Richard Matheson’s short story ”Button, Button,” which was first published in Playboy in 1970 and later adapted for an episode of CBS’ mid-’80s revival of The Twilight Zone. Marsden’s other feature credits include Hairspray and Superman Returns, and he also stars opposite Katherine Heigl in the upcoming romantic comedy 27 Dresses. (Hollywood Reporter)

Wedding Crashers director helming Flash
David Dobkin, director of Wedding Crashers and the upcoming Fred Claus, has signed on to helm the big screen adaptation of DC Comics’ The Flash. Dobkin said he is a comic book fan and has long waited for a shot at a superhero movie, and the Flash’s superpower has a simplicity he found appealing. There are several incarnations of the hero in comic book lore, and it is unclear which version Dobkin will use for his movie. Shawn Levy was originally set to direct, but he left due to scheduling conflicts. Dobkin also directed Shanghai Knights as well as Clay Pigeons. Fred Claus is set to release Nov. 9. (Hollywood Reporter)

Arquette, Lillard, Jones tapped for Ye Old Times
David Arquette, Matthew Lillard (Scooby Doo, Scream), and Orlando Jones (I Think I Love My Wife, Mad TV) will star opposite Justin Chatwin (War of the Worlds) and Jack Black in Ye Old Times, a comedy that marks the feature debut of writer/director Robert A. White. Arquette and Lillard will play members of a modern-day medieval troupe of actors at a Renaissance fair; Jones will play the member of a rival acting troupe committed to only serious productions of real Shakespeare; Chatwin will play the romantic male lead; and Black will be Professor Shockworthy, whose narration bookends the film. (Hollywood Reporter)

Peter Jackson moving on District 9
Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp are moving forward with their collaborative project District 9, a live action, sci-fi movie that will mark Blomkamp’s feature directorial debut. Jackson will produce through his WingNut Films; Blomkamp wrote the script with partner Terri Tatchell. Jackson and Blomkamp are also working together on a feature adaptation of the video game Halo, but that project is on hold. Blomkamp is best known for directing commercials and short films. (Variety)

Depardieu tapped for Kalach
Gerard Depardieu will star in the French-language film Kalach, directed by Yves Reiner. The story is about Kalach (Gerard Lanvin), a gangland boss who gets out of prison and needs to raise cash. Depardieu will play a cop. Also cast are Francois Berleand, who will play a gay nightclub owner, and Mathilde Seigner, the gangster’s love interest. Renier collaborated on the script with Franck Henry, a former gangster who spent more than 10 years in jail. The movie is scheduled to release in late 2008. Production company Onoma International says the film represents the company’s push to back more commercial projects. (Hollywood Reporter)

SATC creator Star adapting YouTube video for CBS
Sex and the City creator Darren Star is developing a comedy based on the YouTube Web series We Need Girlfriends for CBS. The series has drawn as many as 700,000 views per episode on YouTube during its 11-episode run. It features the adventures of Tom (Patrick Cohen), Henry (Seth Kirschner), and Rod (Evan Bass), recent college graduates struggling to understand the New York dating scene after they are simultaneously dumped by their long-term college girlfriends. Star will executive produce Girlfriends for CBS and Sony Pictures TV. (Hollywood Reporter)

Universal, Imagine teaming for another true-crime drama
Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment, the two parties behind American Gangster, are pairing for another true-crime drama focusing on people on opposite sides of the law. The pair has optioned The Knife, an investigative article by Guy Lawson that will be published in the January issue of GQ. It is about a Crips gang member in South Central Los Angeles who became an informant and collaborated for a decade with FBI agent Tim Flaherty to crack murder, drug, and arms-deal cases. (Variety)

PBS doing Jane Austen Masterpiece Theatre series
PBS will adapt all six Jane Austen novels for a special run of Masterpiece Theatre, set to start airing in January. Complete Jane Austen offers new productions of Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and Sense and Sensibility. The lineup also includes Pride and Prejudice, starring Colin Firth, as well as the version of Emma that stars Kate Beckinsale. Masterpiece Theatre says this is the first time that Austen’s books will be presented as a complete collection on television. (Hollywood Reporter)

Paramount adapting graphic novel Killer
Paramount Pictures is working on a feature adaptation of graphic novel The Killer, written by Matz (real name Alexis Nolent) and has set it up as a directing vehicle for David Fincher (Zodiac). Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment is producing. The story is about a top assassin suddenly plagued by his conscience as a highly competent cop is hot on his tail. (Variety)

CELEBRITY NEWS

Page Six: According to court papers, Britney Spears makes $737,868 a month and of that spends $102,000 on entertainment and $16,000 on clothes. Meanwhile, Kevin Federline earns nothing but gets $20,000 a month in spousal support (it ends in two weeks), and spends $5,000 on entertainment and $2,000 on clothes.

People.com: An arrest is expected soon following recent abuse allegations at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in Henley-on-Klip, South Africa.

Rush & Molloy: Brand Asset Group CEO Chris Lighty has been working on a deal for 50 Cent to do an outdoor performance at Times Square on New Year’s Eve before the ball drops.

Access Hollywood: Animal rights activist Bob Barker says that while Ellen DeGeneres’ dog adoption issue was a ”no-win situation,” he also believes the animal rescue group was right to not allow DeGeneres to give her adopted dog to her hairstylist. ”It should have a clause in its contract that if you are not going to keep this animal, you are going to have to bring it back to the rescue group,” he said. ”Otherwise, there are people that would just put it out of the house, just abandon it, or sell it for research. It could have a horrible end to its life.”

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