LOWE BLOW: Rob Lowe exiting his role as White House deputy communications director Sam Seaborn on NBC's The West Wing next March after producers refused to raise his $75,000 per show salary, according to published reports.
TRIUMPH: Conan O'Brien officially tapped to be this year's Emmy host, NBC president Jeff Zucker announced. "We think it's Conan's turn to be seen by the biggest audience that will ever [see him]," Zucker said. NBC reportedly bypassed Jay Leno for the hosting gig.
DENIED: A California state appeals court rejecting Robert Blake's bid for release on bail Tuesday, the actor's attorney said.
ON THE WARPATH: The Reverend Al Sharpton filing a $1 billion libel lawsuit against HBO on Wednesday after the cable network aired an FBI videotape of him being approached about a drug deal. HBO says the legal action was "unworthy of comment."
SOUL SISTERS: Ashanti scoring five nominations while the late R&B star Aaliyah received four nods to lead the eighth annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards. The honors will be dished out August 24 in Pasadena, California.
VIVA VIVES! Colombian folk singer Carlos Vives snagging a leading six Latin Grammy nominations Wednesday, including Album, Record and Song of the Year. The ceremony, which was canceled last year due to 9-11, will be September 18 in Los Angeles.
TALK-ED OUT: Miramax has bought out the remaining two years on former Talk magazine editor Tina Brown's contract for $1 million. Brown, who joined the studio in 1998 amid much fanfare, will remain a consultant on certain publishing and film projects through the end of the year.
GOING GREEK: Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann and legendary Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis teaming up to make a sweeping epic movie based on the life of Alexander the Great. The movie, expected to be the most expensive film ever made, could start shooting as early as January.
LIVING LARGE: NBC cooking up a movie about domestic diva Martha Stewart for the upcoming television season, which will relate the latest chapters on her life, including her now-infamous stock trades.
SEEING RED: MGM reporting a net loss of $121.8 million this quarter following the failure of its $100 million Windtalkers at the box office. The World War II film, starring Nicolas Cage, has earned just $40 million since opening in June.
HOOP DREAMS: For a scene in his new political comedy Head of State, Chris Rock shot free throws at halftime of the Utah Starzz-Washington Mystics WNBA game last Saturday. He needed five takes to nail the shot.
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: The WB network ordering six episodes of The Surreal World, which will follow eight celebrities as they room and work together in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. The half-hour series is expected to debut in September.
STILL GOING: Television syndicator King World announcing it has given a two-year renewal to Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, which will keep the game shows on the air through 2007.
IN CONCERT: Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews scheduled to perform at the 15th Farm Aid concert, taking place outside Pittsburgh September 21.
REALITY CHECK: After weeks of rumors, singer Liza Minnelli and her new husband, producer David Gest, confirming they're jumping into the reality TV fray with Liza and David, a new show which will debut on VH1 in late 2002.
GET REAL: Big Brother 2 champion Will Kirby tapped to host NBC's Love Shack, a new reality show featuring singles who move in to a California mansion together to find true love and compete against each other to win a one-year lease on a California beach house.
CODA: Dave Carter, a singer and songwriter who with partner Tracy Grammer was one of the fastest-rising acts in contemporary folk music, died Saturday of an apparent heart attack. He was 49.