The White House has announced that President Bush will hold a press conference on Thursday night at 8:30 EDT to discuss his plans for Social Security. What that means for your chance to watch Alan Arkin guest-star as Grace's dad on "Will & Grace" (originally scheduled for 8:30 p.m. EDT on NBC) or the season -- and possible series -- finale of Fox's "Tru Calling" (9 p.m. EDT) one can only guess. But surely, surely, the WB won't postpone its home-makeover show spoof "Mobile Home Disaster" (9 p.m. EDT), right?
Cute as two buttons: While the celeb-gossip world has had its gaze fixed unswervingly on possible couple (and People mag "beautiful people") Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (even to the point of creating cover images of them together out of old images), definite couple Tom Cruise, 42, and Katie Holmes, 26, have slipped quietly under the radar into apparently happy companionship. After the duo was photographed looking cozy in Rome, where Cruise is due to accept an award this week, spokespeople for both Cruise and Holmes confirmed that they are "dating." Holmes recently split with her boyfriend of five years -- and erstwhile fiancé -- Chris Klein, shortly after he was arrested for drunk driving. (Newsday, Reuters, N.Y. Daily News)
Jackson trial update: In what the Associated Press is calling a "startling setback to the prosecution," Debbie Rowe, Michael Jackson's ex-wife and the mother of his two eldest children, took the stand on Wednesday and testified that her statements in a video made to counteract the deleterious P.R. effects of Martin Bashir's "Living With Michael Jackson" documentary were not scripted. The prosecution had told the jury that Rowe would testify that Jackson's people had told her what to say, but Rowe said her words were all her own. "I didn't want anyone to be able to come back to me and say my interview was rehearsed," said the former dermatological nurse who was married to Jackson for three years. "As Mr. Jackson knows, no one can tell me what to say." In what may be good news for the prosecution, however, Rowe -- who testified that she and Jackson "never shared a home" and also that she was allowed just eight hours with her children every 45 days -- said that she was not entirely truthful on the video, which she made voluntarily in an attempt "to be reunited with the children and be reacquainted with their dad." Explaining her reasons for dissembling on film, Rowe said, "My personal life was my personal life and no one's business." (Associated Press, N.Y. Post)
Note to self, take apology lessons from this woman: Air America talk-show host Randi Rhodes has expressed remorse for an audio skit that joked about shooting President Bush, which ran on her show this week and sparked some alarm in D.C. "If the bit was understood to be a threat against the president, I need to apologize to the president of the United States, and I do. I also need to apologize to the Secret Service [which] has a very, very serious job. If they had to take two seconds out of their day to look into me, I apologize for that. ... But where is the apology when they threaten judges from the Senate floor or from the House floor? Or where's the investigation into Ann Coulter's mouth?" Rhodes said Wednesday on her show. "[My apology] is sincere. I feel bad that anybody would feel threatened by comedy. That's one thing, but I also feel bad that it wasn't funny. And I also feel bad that there could be a perception that I would be advocating violence against anybody, let alone the president of the United States of America. It's no secret that I think he's a terrible president, but I don't think that anybody should have violence advocated against them in any way, shape or form ever! ... That [skit] will never see the light of day again. It was bad." (WorldNetDaily.com, Drudge)
Also: Judi Dench says Pierce Brosnan will return as James Bond in the upcoming 007 flick "Casino Royale," telling the British tabloid the Mirror, "Despite the fact that everyone on the face of the Earth has been tested as his possible replacement, he'll be doing it again, and it'll be announced come summer." The film's producers are declining to comment. (The Mirror via Megastar.co.uk) ... Ricky Gervais, of the BBC's "The Office," and his production partner Stephen Merchant have signed a deal with HBO to bring a show called "Extras," about an aspiring actor, to U.S. cable TV. "It's an honor to be on the same channel that gave us 'The Sopranos,' and they made me an offer I couldn't refuse," quipped Gervais. (Reuters/Hollywood Reporter) ... Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham appears to be on the mend after undergoing breast-cancer surgery on Wednesday. The cancer does not appear to have spread and the operation "couldn't have gone better," her surgeon said. (N.Y. Post) ... The author of "Stories From a Moron: Real Stories Rejected by Real Magazines," one "Ed Broth," is likely none other than Jerry Seinfeld, who penned the book's foreword. (Page Six) ... A blue-and-white gingham dress worn by Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz" has been sold for #140,000 (approx. $267,000) at auction. (Time Out) ... Oh, and you won't want to miss this New York Times article (by occasional Salon contributor Dana Vachon) on high-powered guys swimming naked in NYC. (N.Y. Times)
Paris Hilton on -- what else? -- herself: "I always wanted to build a brand. Barbie's a brand. I knew I could be like that -- an American princess." (N.Y. Daily News)
-- Amy Reiter