Top Story: Aniston Cries on Oprah
Jennifer Aniston, embarking on a marketing blitz for her upcoming comedy Along Came Polly, told Vogue magazine for its January issue that she cried during her appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. “She was doing a show about [Friends‘] final year, and there was an audience, and I, unfortunately, am one of those blithering idiots who cried on Oprah,” Aniston said. “I couldn’t stop myself. I really wish I hadn’t but it was this reality check. We’ve all been in sort of a state of denial about the ending of Friends and this kind of made it real.” NBC will tape the last episode of Friends, now in its 10th season, at the end of January, the AP reports. Along Came Polly, starring Ben Stiller, hits theaters Jan. 16.
Oprah Still America’s Favorite TV Personality
Despite her penchant for bringing celebrities and others to tears–or perhaps because of it–Oprah Winfrey held on to her title this year as America’s favorite TV personality, according to The Harris Poll, conducted by the worldwide market research and consulting firm Harris Interactive. This is the fourth time Winfrey has been No. 1; she also won in 1998, 2000 and 2002, and since the poll began in 1993, she has consistently been in the top three. David Letterman, who achieved his best ever ranking last year at No. 3, moved up to second place, followed by Bill O’Reilly, Ray Romano and Jay Leno. Other celebrities to make the Top 10 were Dr. Phil McGraw and Jon Stewart, who tied for sixth place. CSI‘s William Petersen came in eighth while Whoopi Goldberg finished ninth. Jennifer Aniston, Ellen DeGeneres and Martin Sheen, meanwhile, all tied for 10th place. The Harris Poll, now in its 11th year, was conducted online with 2,376 adults in the United States from Nov. 17 to Nov. 23.
Letterman Visits Troops in Iraq
David Letterman, who visited troops in Afghanistan for Christmas last year, dropped in Wednesday for a Christmas Eve visit with U.S. troops in Baghdad, the AP reports. The Late Show host visited the military’s main combat hospital and one of Saddam Hussein’s ransacked palaces that now serves as part of the U.S.-led coalition’s headquarters. Letterman got some big laughs when he read off the Top 10 signs soldiers have been in Iraq too long: “No. 9: You’ve heard a crazy rumor that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the governor of California,” Letterman said. Number two was, “Camel: It tastes like chicken.” The top slot was aimed at the soldiers running the hospital: “And the No. 1 sign you’ve been in Iraq too long: Dave’s heard about our outstanding health care and came to us for his hemorrhoids.”
WGA, Studios Clash Over DVDs
The Writers Guild of America is making the sizzling DVD market its main concern as it heads into negotiations with studios. But according to Variety, studios aren’t likely to turn generous when it comes to doling out profits from DVD revenues. The current payouts are based on an antiquated 1985 formula that leaves writers with uncommonly small residuals amid the existing DVD craze. Studios, however, stand by the formula and argue that with only one in 10 features recouping its costs from the domestic box office, DVD profits are an essential tool in keeping studios afloat. Talks have not yet been scheduled between the WGA and the studios, but with the May 2 contract expiration date looming, the DVD issue is expected to heat up.
Johansson a “Rising Star”
Scarlett Johansson, who received two Golden Globe nominations last week for her roles in Lost in Translation and Girl With a Pearl Earring, will be honored at the 15th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival with the first ever Rising Star Award, the AP reports. The awards ceremony will be held Jan. 11 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Chairman-elect Earl Greenburg said in a statement: “We are very excited to be honoring Scarlett Johansson with the festival’s first-ever Rising Star Award. She has already established herself as one of Hollywood’s most versatile and talented young actresses.” The 19-year-old also starred in The Horse Whisperer and Ghost World. The festival will be held Jan. 8-19.
Jesse Ventura’s America on Indefinite Hiatus
Former Minnesota governor and pro wrestler Jesse Ventura can add former TV host to his title. A spokeswoman for cable news channel MSNBC told Reuters Wednesday that Ventura‘s Saturday evening talk show, Jesse Ventura’s America, has been taken off the air with no immediate plans to bring it back. But Ventura, once known as “The Body” in wrestling circles, will continue to serve as a political commentator for the network during the 2004 campaign season. Ventura‘s show, which debuted in October, has struggled in the ratings. It was originally conceived by MSNBC as a nightly prime-time program but was limited to Saturday evenings by the time it launched.
Trailer Park Boys Coming Stateside
BBC America has picked up the first two seasons of mockumentary Trailer Park Boys, a profanity-laced, low-budget tale of life on the wrong side of the tracks, Variety reports. Now in its third season, the show, shot in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has developed a cult following and some critical praise. BBC America plans to run an edited version in primetime and an uncensored version later in the evening, and has optioned the third, fourth and fifth seasons. Trailer Park Boys creator and director Mike Clattenburg describes the show as Cops from a criminal’s point of view and says it has “a lot of heart.” This will be the show’s first sale Stateside; it currently airs on Canada’s Showcase network and Australia’s Comedy Network.