Today's News: Our Take


AND THE WINNER IS...

Round four of the Friends/Survivor face-off got underway last night, and not surprisingly, America was there for NBC's Emmy-winning sitcom. According to Nielsen, the ninth (and supposedly final) season premiere of Friends attracted a staggering 33.3 million viewers and easily beat the debut of Survivor: Thailand (21.4 million viewers). At 9 pm, CBS took control with the return of CSI averaging a series-high 30 million viewers. The Eye network's 10 pm debut of Without A Trace also fared well with 16.6 million viewers — the most competitive drama finish opposite an ER premiere in eight years, reports Variety's numbers cruncher Rick Kissell. Of course, with 26.7 million viewers, ER was hardly on life support. read more

CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED

And you thought the stars on celebrity Fear Factor were D-list. For its upcoming reality series The Surreal Life — described as MTV's Real World but with a cast of has-beens — the WB has lined up rapper M.C. Hammer, Webster's Emmanuel Lewis, The Facts of Life's Mindy Cohn and former Baywatch babe Brande Roderick. What, no Ralph Macchio? All the excitement gets underway early next year. Meanwhile, Fox is doing a third edition of Celebrity Boxing in November. Casting execs are currently scraping the bottom of the barrel for participants. read more

TAKE A BOW

Madonna has been named the greatest woman in music over the past 50 years, according to a new VH1 poll. Of the 750,000 votes cast by viewers, 17 percent went to the Material Girl. Rounding out the top five: Kylie Minogue, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. read more

THAT'S HOLLYWOOD FOR YOU

Freddy Got Fingered producer Lauren Lloyd is developing a sequel to Easy Rider, the 1969 classic that starred Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson. According to Variety, the follow-up begins with Captain America (Fonda) falsely imprisoned for murder of George Hanson (Nicholson). A new character sets out to prove him innocent. There's no word if the trio plan to reprise their roles. read more

Jordan Frieda Makes Wills a Prince Charming


Winning as high-profile a role as the lead in ABC's buttoned-down Prince William biopic would have sent many a young Briton running for his mum and dad. But not Jordan Frieda. Even though he's a bit of a royal himself — his folks are pop singer Lulu and renowned hairstylist John Frieda — the fair-haired bloke headed in exactly the opposite direction. Blimey, he wouldn't even let Pop trim his bangs!

"I haven't let my father cut my hair in years!" he tells TV Guide Online, horrified. "The problem is, he can be the best hairdresser in the world, but because I'm his son, he makes my hair look all preppy and conservative. He could've just come from a fashion shoot, but to do my hair, his personality changes and he becomes a father."

Luckily, Frieda didn't need much parental guidance, anyway. Having matriculated at Eton College alongside Chuck and Di's No. 1 son, he'd gotten the lowdown on his highness long bef read more

Dick Clark Fulfills Providence Star's Dreams


The producers of NBC's American Dreams — debuting Sunday at 8 pm/ET — hit a bullseye when they cast Tom Verica as patriarch Jack Pryor. After all, the actor's own upbringing in 1960s Philadelphia — where Dreams is set — closely parallels the Pryor family's story. Heck, Verica's mom even danced on American Bandstand — something his onscreen daughter Meg (Brittany Snow) gets a chance at, too.

"I don't think [my mother, Betty Ann,] had quite the excitement that the Meg character has on our show," Verica tells TV Guide Online. Even so, Betty Ann "had a photo taken with Dick Clark a couple years after she had been on Bandstand and was paid to do a car ad with him."

Clark, who hosted Ban read more

SMELLS LIKE A HIT

Nirvana fans finally got to face the music this week. The band's unreleased 1994 track "You Know You're Right" — recorded less than three months before the death of lead singer Kurt Cobain — debuted on radio stations across the U.S. this week. The song was apparently leaked to the airwaves via the Internet. read more

IN RELATED NEWS...

Freddie Prinze Jr. will guest star on Friends later this fall playing a nanny that Ross and Rachel hire, Access Hollywood reports. read more

END QUOTE

"I have not had a personality change. I don't think anything I've done recently is inconsistent with what I've done my whole life." — Former talk show host Rosie O'Donnell defending her recent behavior in the new issue of People. read more

SHORT CUTS

TNT has tapped Charles Barkley to host his own half-hour talk show. Listen Up! Charles Barkley with Ernie Johnson debuts Oct. 31 live at 7 pm/ET... Queen Latifah has signed a deal with CBS to develop and star in the hour-long police drama Mali Anderson, a project based on Grace F. Edwards' Mali Anderson Mystery book series. read more

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