NBC has renewed "The West Wing" for two more years, assuring that the three-time Emmy-winning series will remain on the air through the 2004-05 season.
The White House drama won the Emmy for outstanding drama series in each in of first three seasons. Several members of its cast have won Emmys -- including Martin Sheen (President Josiah Bartlet), Allison Janney ('C.J.' Cregg), John Spencer (Leo McGarry), Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman) and Stockard Channing (Abby Bartlet).
"The West Wing" won 13 Emmys in its first season, and has been honored with a Peabody Award and a Humanitas Prize.
TWO MORE YEARS FOR 'THE SIMPSONS'
Fox has renewed "The Simpsons" for two more years, putting the animated comedy hit in position to become the longest-running comedy in TV history.
The new deal keeps Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson -- and their extended dysfunctional family in Springfield -- on the air through the 2004-05 season. That will make 16 full seasons for the show, which began as a short subject on Fox's "The Tracey Ullman Show."
Fox has also renewed the animated comedy "King of the Hill" for the 2003-04 season.
HONORS FOR MARTIN SCORSESE
The Directors Guild of America has announced that Martin Scorsese will receive its highest honor -- a lifetime achievement award.
Scorsese will join a list of past winners that includes Hollywood legends Woody Allen, Frank Capra, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Billy Wilder. The most recent DGA lifetime achievement award went to Steven Spielberg in 2000.
Scorsese will receive the honor at the 55th Annual DGA Awards on March 1 in Los Angeles.
Scorsese has been nominated for the Academy Award for directing "GoodFellas," "Raging Bull" and "The Last Temptation of Christ," but has never won the Oscar. He has been nominated for the DGA Award for directing four times, and has been nominated for five Golden Globes, but has never won either award. His most recent Golden Globe nomination is for the current box-office hit "Gangs of New York."
USC ANNOUNCES SCRIPTER NOMINEES
The University of Southern California has announced nominees for this year's Scripter Award, honoring the best movie adaptations of previously published works.
The award honors both the screenwriters and the authors of the original novel or novellas upon which the screenplay is based.
The nominees are: "About Schmidt" (Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, screenwriters, Louis Begley, author); "Adaptation" (Charlie Kaufman, screenwriter, Susan Orlean, author, "The Orchid Thief"); "The Hours" (David Hare, screenwriter, Michael Cunningham, author); "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" (Frances Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair and Peter Jackson, screenwriters, J.R.R. Tolkien, author); "The Pianist" (Ronald Harwood, screenwriter, Wladyslaw Szpilman, author, "Death of a City").
The winner will be announced on March 15 in Los Angeles, and will join a list of past winners that includes "A Beautiful Mind," "L.A. Confidential," "Sense and Sensibility" and "The Shawshank Redemption."
OSCAR BLEACHER SEATS UP FOR GRABS
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the rules for getting bleacher seats for the red carpet arrivals at the upcoming Academy Awards.
For a second straight year, the academy is requiring fans to apply for the 300-plus bleacher seats that will be made available for the 75th Academy Awards on March 23. Tickets will be awarded to winners of a random drawing.
Applications need to furnish the academy with personal information including their name, address, birth date, driver's license and social security numbers. Applications, available online (oscars.org/bleachers) or by telephone (800-866-9197), must be mailed to the Academy's coordinating agency on Feb. 11 -- not the day before and not the day after, but postmarked on Feb. 11.
Cybill Shepherd reportedly will play Martha Stewart in an upcoming NBC TV movie about Stewart's phenomenal success as a leading expert on good living.
"Martha Inc.: The Story of Martha Stewart" will be based on Christopher Byron's best-seller "Martha Inc.: The Incredible Story of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia." The Hollywood Reporter said the movie will focus mainly on Stewart's rise to prominence, but will also cover the controversy surrounding alleged insider trading involving stock in the troubled biotechnology firm ImClone.
According to a report in Daily Variety, former "Grace Under Fire" star Brett Butler will star in an updated version of the old NBC series "McCloud" -- which featured Dennis Weaver as a New Mexico sheriff working the streets of New York City.
The project is being put together by USA -- part of Universal Television Group -- which is also planning to bring back the '70s cop drama "Kojak" with Ving Rhames in the role made famous by the late Telly Savalas. The company is also reportedly working on an updated version of the '70s cop drama "Baretta," which starred Robert Blake.
'SHREK' -- THE RIDE
Universal Studios has announced that it will turn the box-office hit "Shrek" into an attraction at its theme parks in Hollywood, Orlando, Fla., and Japan.
"Shrek 4-D" is described as a "multi-media continuation of the 'Shrek' fairy tale." It will be the first major attraction to be introduced simultaneously at all three Universal theme parks.
The attraction will feature the voice talents of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow -- who starred in the 2000 box-office hit. Universal said the attraction -- with 15 minutes of 3-D animation -- will "pick up the story where ... 'Shrek' left off."