David Cook, Johnny Depp, and Patricia Heaton made news this week

American Idol winner David Cook has long promised to make a debut album that’s true to his vision, and a slew of rock notables are working to help him achieve that goal. Our Lady Peace singer Raine Maida, Collective Soul’s Ed Roland, and Green Day producer Rob Cavallo are on board, while Cook still hopes to snag Foo Fighters frontman and RCA labelmate Dave Grohl. But there’s one person who isn’t involved with the record: Clive Davis, who has executive-produced almost all of the Idol champs’ debuts (with the exception of Jordin Sparks). That’s because his role at Sony BMG, where he’s currently chief creative officer, has shifted. Says Cook, ”I never heard his name brought up.”

Davis’ absence could free up Cook to make his own decision about the inclusion of his Idol coronation song, ”The Time of My Life.” (Having a sappy but familiar single on a rock-oriented debut was a bone of contention for season 5 winner Taylor Hicks, who reportedly butted heads with Davis over the issue.) ”It’s not like there’s any resistance,” insists Cook. ”My goal is to make a cohesive record, and I don’t want any song to stick out like a sore thumb. In every meeting that I’ve had with 19 [Management] and RCA, they’ve been very supportive of what I want to do.” As for Davis’ apparent exit from the Idol scene, insiders speculate he’s dealing with new priorities. (Calls to his office were not returned.) Besides, says a source, ”David can think on his own. You want to give him that extra space, but he still has an A&R team. It’s not like he has total artistic freedom.” — Shirley Halperin

Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter? Sounds brilliant — and according to one very well-informed source, it’s true. Tim Burton’s upcoming take on the classic Lewis Carroll fairy tale, Alice in Wonderland 3-D, is slated for release in 2010. The source reveals to EW that the film will be live-action until Alice (played by Mia Wasikowska of HBO’s In Treatment) jumps down the rabbit hole and meets the loopy tea party host. The big question is whether Depp himself will don a Hatter outfit, or lend his voice to the computer-generated version. Disney and Depp’s camp won’t confirm or deny whether the actor is set to play the nefarious charmer. No matter. We already know Depp looks great in a hat. — Nicole Sperling

Fox’s Back to You boasted one of the most talented — and most expensive — casts on TV last season, but no amount of campaigning by star Kelsey Grammer could save the workplace comedy from the ax after a single year. Fortunately, we may not have to wait long to see the stars back in action; three of them have already moved on to projects at ABC. Grammer has scored a role as an eccentric billionaire in a midseason comedy pilot called Roman’s Empire. Patricia Heaton is in talks to star as a Midwestern mom in The Middle, a redo of a Ricki Lake sitcom pilot from 2007. And Ty Burrell, who played correspondent Gary Crezyzewski, has joined the cast of a potential midseason comedy about two business partners — one gay and one straight — that’s in the works from Will & Grace creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan. — Lynette Rice

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