March 1, 2001


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Xtremely Poor Ratings

The XFL, NBC’s fledgling “extreme football league” is a very, very low scoring event.

The weekly games, broadcast on Saturday nights on NBC, have plummeted in the ratings since their February 3 debut, dropping nearly 72 percent.

Last Saturday’s XFL matchup between the New York/New Jersey Hitmen and the Chicago Enforcers drew a mere 3.9 million viewers. If it had been a new sitcom or drama, analysts say it would have been cancelled by now.

NBC has more of a stake in the XFL though. As a co-owner of the league, it is committed to showing the games for two more exciting seasons.

Meanwhile, Minnesota Governor and part-time XFL announcer, Jesse Ventura, has scapegoated news organizations for the league’s low ratings. “The media assumed it would be football players hitting each other with chairs,” he said.

But, according to, NBC affiliates blame the low viewership on the fact that no one knows exactly what the XFL is.

Like, is it supposed to be a new sporting event, or just a new program? Or both? Or is it just a ratings ploy that never worked quite right?

Problem is, no one seems to care enough to find out.

Gossip Among Friends

The producers of the hit NBC sitcom Friends have just a few worries these days.

The most obvious, of course, is rival Survivor, which blasted past the comedy last Thursday by the widest ratings margin yet.

And now, Courteney Cox-Arquette is getting ready to start a family with hubby David. Writers are thus furiously making plans to incorporate a pregnant Monica into the show’s storyline. Her co-star Jennifer Aniston is also reportedly yearning for motherhood, which might present a greater dilemma for writers. Unlike Monica, her Friends character Rachel is not planning a marriage on the show.

Meanwhile, Friends‘ star Matthew Perry is back in rehab, according to his publicist Lisa Kasteler on Monday. She did not comment on the nature of his illness, but it is known that Perry was treated for an addiction to painkillers in 1997.

As of now, it is unclear how his stay will affect the show’s production. According to, producers say they could shoot around Perry’s absence, but they admittedly have no major storyline to explain a long-term absence.

Show of the Living Dead

Special effects sure can make you believe a lot of stuff that doesn’t really exist.

But the crew over at the hit HBO mob drama, The Sopranos, has taken technology to a new level for the premiere of the show’s third season. The family matriarch, played by the late Nancy Marchand, will “magically” appear in scenes, interacting with her son, Tony. Marchand died between filming the second and third seasons, but the producers wanted to give her character an appropriate goodbye on the show.

Creator David Chase isn’t saying much, but digital enhancement, use of old sound bytes, and a body double were all apparently involved, according to E! Online.

E-News, in 30 Seconds

Critics cite dwindling CD singles sales last year as evidence of the drastic effects of Napster … A prosecutor in the Sean “Puffy” Combs case claims he violated a gag order … Jennifer Lopez won’t testify at the aforementioned trial … Fox execs are unsure whether they’ll greenlight a Temptation Island 2 … Mike Myers is close to signing a $25 million deal for Austin Powers 3 … Madonna has confirmed a summer tour.

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