February 8, 2001


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Suits, Sweeps, and Survivor

Last week, the consensus among many media analysts was that Friends would win the Thursday night programming showdown between the hit comedy and the reality-based series Survivor.

Boy were they wrong.

Survivor actually wallopped the NBC sitcom by almost 7 million viewers, making it the second most-watched program of the week. This episode’s rating was the third highest ever for the show, only surpassed by last season’s finale and this season’s post-Super Bowl premiere.

Yet despite Survivor‘s February sweeps success, there may be some trouble brewing in paradise. Former cast member Stacey Stillman filed suit Monday against the show’s producer, Mark Burnett, claiming that he rigged the “tribal council vote” so that she would be voted out instead of Rudy Boesch. According to Stillman, Burnett feared criticism if all of the older contestants were voted out early, so he persuaded two cast members to avoid voting for Boesch, 72.

Burnett, however, denies these allegations. “I’m absolutely certain that once the entire claim is looked into, it will be proved completely groundless,” he told USA Today.

Before filing the lawsuit, Stillman asked CBS to cast her in a non-manipulated reality show. When executives denied her this request and refused to settle, Stillman decided to sue for unspecified damages.

Days of Thunder

Tom Cruise made his separation from Nicole Kidman official yesterday, by filing for divorce in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. According to E! Online, Cruise requested joint custody of the couple’s two adopted children.

But everyone has their own opinion as to why the couple decided to split after 10 years of a seemingly happy marriage. Us Weekly magazine, for example, reports the rumor that Australian actor Marcus Graham was the homewrecker. Other Hollywood insiders have suggested that Cruise and Penolope Cruz, a costar on the set of his current film, are getting it on. Still others are speculating that the two held divergent views on religion, which ultimately led to the break-up.

From Kathie Lee to Kelly

It’s official. After informally testing the talk show knack of dozens of female candidates, the producers of Regis Philbin’s syndicated talk show have finally made a selection. Kelly Ripa, currently starring in the ABC daytime soap All My Children, will take the seat next to Reege, which has been vacant ever since Kathie Lee Gifford exited the show early last summer.

Apparently Ripa connected well with Philbin, who is 38 years her senior. “… Look it’s not a cure for cancer. It’s a fun show where we just riff off of each other and show our similar acerbic sense of humor,” she told USA Today.

Ripa will likely add a breath of fresh air to the talk show, but why does she look so much like Kathie Lee? Hmm….

E-News Quickies

Another witness has testified that she saw Sean “Puffy” Combs brandish a gun during a 1999 nightclub shooting … Britney Spears has signed a commercial deal with Pepsi … Fox’s Temptation Island will be extended through the end of the month … Seinfeld alum Jason Alexander will star as a motivational speaker in an upcoming sitcom … Italian police have charged Marilyn Manson for two acts of public indecency … HBO will televise last summer’s Bruce Springsteen concert on April 7 … Despite opposition, Eminem will attend this year’s Grammy Awards.

Archived article by Matt Chock