By Stacy Jenel Smith
The festive season is upon us - with holidays and football and the cooler days we longed for during the sweltering summer. A terrific pile of fall goodies awaits from the world of entertainment, and there are lots of celebrity stories unfolding to add spice to the season. Ready to take a running leap and jump in? Here are 15 Things to Look Forward to This Fall:
1. Britney Spears as a momma.
2. Baby Watch Stories:
Newlyweds Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck are expecting in November - will they really shun Hollywood in favor of a laid back lifestyle in their new Virginia country home? Will Ben hold poker parties in a back room?
Will Sienna Miller forgive Jude Law for the nanny affair for the sake of the baby they're expecting this winter?
What a fall for Heath Ledger - anticipating both the release of his "Brokeback Mountain" feature, with his character and Jake Gyllenhaal's as gay cowboys in love, and the birth of his baby with partner and "Brokeback Mountain" costar Michelle Williams.
3. Kelly Monaco vs. Eva Longoria.
If the "Dancing with the Stars" and "General Hospital" cutie steps aboard "Desperate Housewives," there will be a cat fight. Absolutely. Even if it's just made up in the tabloids. Count on it.
4. With Teri Hatcher reportedly making lots more money ($285K as opposed to $200K per episode) than the other Housewives, don't be surprised if salary disputes are ahead -- but how soon?
5. We Love Paris in the Fall:
How generous and good of the blonde heiress to provide so much entertainment for those who have no lives. Will Paris marry Paris? Will Paris break up with Paris -- or vice-versa? Will Paris and Nicole make up? Will Paris' fragrance line succeed? Will Paris run for President? Okay, we got carried away.
You've gotta love Ashlee Simpson for coming up with the ultimate narcissistic album title, "I Am Me" (honey, who else would you be?) - due Oct. 18. She has said that her line, "I didn't steal your boyfriend," on the album is NOT a note to Lindsay Lohan, even though Ashlee is dating Wilmer Valderrama, who used to be Lindsay's Great Love (after he'd moved on from Mandy Moore). Wilmer's a real go-getter and a fairly charming guy -- still, to elicit this kind of passion from such impressive young women, he just has to have more going on that is readily apparent. But what does Lindsay care? She's been dating Jared Leto, plus, she has actual talent.
7. A Time to Laugh:
This season is offering up some wonderful - really - new prospects in comedy. There's UPN's "Everybody Hates Chris," narrated by Chris Rock himself, which goes back to his young teen years coping, with humor, as the only non-white face at school. There's NBC's "My Name is Earl," with scruffy Jason Lee as a loser who decides to make things right with all the people he's wronged. There's CBS's "How I Met Your Mother," which proposes to show us that young guys aren't just out to have sex, they dream of finding lifelong love with Ms. Right. Maybe the sitcom will do a comeback.
8. A Time to Die.
As if things weren't scary enough in the real world, disaster movies are coming at us at a furious rate. "Mayday," Oct. 2 on CBS, has Aidan Quinn, Charles Dutton and Kelly Hu in a tale of a jetliner struck by a Navy test missile; Oct. 9, the Hallmark Channel has a story about Homeland Security personnel getting a terrorist threat that a bomb's been planted at a big football game: "Time Bomb"; CBS's "Category 7: the End of the World," a miniseries about - well, duh - stars Randy Quaid and Gina Gershon, and may be pulled from its planned November airing in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe; NBC has its remake of "The Poseidon Adventure" and a miniseries, "10.5 Apocalypse" coming in November. "In the first one, the whole coast of California fell into the ocean," reminds Beau Bridges, who plays the President in both earthquake miniseries. "In this one, the whole continent splits in half." Can't wait!
9. Martha's Back.
With a new daytime show and a new nighttime show and a public ready to re-embrace her, it's a case of prison time? What prison time?
10. Angelina and Brad.
Are they on or off, noble or naughty? The couple of intrigue never explains.
11. The Engagement Party.
Everyone's getting ready to tie the knot. Besides the Parises (Parisi?), we have celeb engagements including: Nicole Richie to DJ AM, Nicollette Sheridan to Niklas Soderblom, Marcia Cross to stockbroker Tom Mahoney, Allison Janney to Richard Jenik, Christina Aguilera to music executive Jordan Bratman, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas to Josh Duhamel, Avril Lavigne to Sum 41's Deryck Whibley, Alanis Morissette to Ryan Reynolds, Garth Brooks to Trisha Yearwood, and - who could forget -- Tom Cruise to Katie Holmes.
12. Jay-Z and Beyonce.
Will the reigning couple of recording royalty make it official?
13. Old Music Masters Coming Back:
Paul McCartney and Neil Young each have what critics are calling their best albums in years, and years: "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard" and "Prairie Wind" respectively.
14. Oscar Watch.
'Tis the season to do what many movie-lovers love to do best, handicap the Best Pictures of the Year by seeing all the viable candidates. Fall is, of course, the season when studios escort their highest quality fare (well, that's the plan) to theaters with hopes that they'll be fresh in Academy members' minds at nominations time. Will Joaquin and Reese strike the right note as Johnny and June in "Walk the Line" (Nov. 18 from Fox)? Will Colin Farrell be credible as explorer hunk to-die-for John Smith in Terrence Malick's "The New World" (Dec. 25 from New Line)?
Will Mel Brooks' big-screen "The Producers" with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick (Dec. 21 from Universal) be as significant a treat to Oscar voters as the stage version was to Tony voters? Same question for "Rent" (Nov. 11 from Revolution Studios). Will Sean Penn, as a character based on larger-than-life Louisiana Governor Huey Long in "All the King's Men) (Dec. 16 from Sony) garner another nomination - especially in the now-highly-emotional context of his post-Hurricane Katrina attempts to help his character's city, New Orleans?
15. Fall Blockbusters.
Sure, they're in for Oscar noms, too -- but let's face it, the big thing is that Warner Bros. Nov. 18 "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," Universal's Dec. 14 "King Kong" and Disney's Dec. 9 "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe" will each add HUGE GROSSES to Hollywood's anemic 2005 box office.
Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith are featured in over 100 print publications and other media outlets with cutting edge celebrity news and insider scoop. Have a burning showbiz question?
Ask those in-the-know, Marilyn and Stacy, and get the real skinny daily in their "Ask BeckSmith
" column on CompuServe and Netscape.