IT’S COMING BACK! If you thought you were already sick of people saying, ”Is that your final answer?” and then giggling uncontrollably, just wait until next year. ABC has made the wise decision to bring back its sweeps champ ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” as a regular series come January. Variety says the show is likely to air three times a week, on Sundays, Tuesdays, and either Wednesdays or Thursdays. That grating noise you’re hearing now is Kathie Lee grinding her teeth at Regis’ good fortune.
GOLDEN THROAT Forget the Woodstock appearance, forget the duet with Run DMC and Aerosmith at the MTV Awards: Kid Rock has finally nabbed the gig that shows he’s made it. He and sidekick Joe C will lend their voices to ”The Simpsons,” playing themselves in an April episode when the family heads to spring break in Florida.
CASTING Semihot off his turn in ”End of Days,” Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed to star in ”Collateral Damage” as a man who sets out to nab the terrorist responsible for the bomb that killed his family. This will come to you from a director who knows all about revenge: ”The Fugitive”’s Andrew Davis…. And Arnold’s current costar, Satan, has also got another gig, with the remake of ”Bedazzled,” in which Brendan Fraser will play a man who sells his soul to nab a girlfriend. Harold Ramis (”Analyze This”) will write and direct.
CYBERCAST The Foo Fighters‘ performance on tonight’s ”Late Show With David Letterman” will be cybercast live during the show’s taping. If you click on Dave’s website at 6:15 p.m. EST, you can watch the band play its new single ”Learn to Fly,” as well as one other tune that will only be shown to Web viewers and won’t be seen on TV later that night. An MP3 version of the performance will be available on the site within the next couple of days.
CHRISTMAS SPIRIT Christmas is coming, and the teen acts are all atwitter. Christina Aguilera and 98 Degrees will perform on the TNT special ”Christmas in Washington,” a concert taped before the President and airing on Dec. 12. There will be some adult supervision, however: B.B. King and Chris Isaak will also play, and Jewel will sing too, before running to her Alaskan Y2K bunker to wait out the millennium.
LAWSUIT Five former employees of Sylvester Stallone have filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against him for firing them for not following some way-out household rules. According to the Associated Press, the quintet — who were hired at his Miami mansion in 1995 for 15 days and let go after 6 — claim that Stallone’s wife, Jennifer Flavin, told them they were not allowed to look into Sly’s eyes; must back out of the room when he entered; weren’t allowed to talk to or be talked to by Stallone’s mother, Jackie; were forbidden to eat or drink in the house; and would be subjected to daily searches. They were allegedly fired after Jackie Stallone gave them each a pen and an autographed picture of herself (Dear God, isn’t that punishment enough?), and Flavin accused them of stealing these treasures. The Stallones’ attorney said the charges were ”purely fictional.”
MEDIA BATTLE The Hollywood Foreign Press Association — which presents the Golden Globe Awards — has signed a deal with NBC in which that network can not only air the awards show, but also has sole rights to covering the red carpet for an hour-long preshow, thereby preventing other networks from covering the arrivals live. Although this kind of exclusive coverage has been common recently in awards shows (NBC did it with the Emmys, and ABC with the Oscars), it’s controversial this time because with the HFPA involved, it is essentially the media censoring the other media. ”It’s disturbing,” E! senior VP John Rieber told Variety. ”We’re extremely disappointed that a press organization would restrict press access.” HFPA president Helmut Voss (from Germany’s Stringer publications) said the group agonized over the decision, but ultimately decided it was okay since the other press wasn’t totally forbidden from taping the event. ”For God’s sake,” he told Variety. ”Its only restriction is that [other news organizations] can’t go live — not that they can’t cover it.”
LED ZEP ROCKS, DUDE! As long as teens have smoking areas and denim jackets, there will always be a need for Led Zeppelin. The band has become the third act in music history (after the Beatles and Garth Brooks) to receive four diamond albums from the RIAA (signifying sales of 10 million copies). Zep’s qualifying albums are ”Houses of the Holy” (11 million), ”Led Zeppelin II” (12 million), ”Physical Graffiti” (15 million), and ”Led Zeppelin IV” (22 million).
HOST SWITCH Robin Givens will take over for Mother Love as host of the syndicated weep-fest ”Forgive or Forget” in January. (What if Mike Tyson shows up with an olive branch?) A production spokesperson told Variety that the ratings had been plateauing with Love aboard, so the show wanted to go in a new direction, although other sources said that Love was unhappy with her current deal.
REEL DEAL Is Martin Scorsese bowing to the teen trend? He’s signed to direct another gangster film, but this one looks at mobster kids in the witness protection program. No title yet, but how about “Phatfellas”?
PROGRAMMING MYSTERIES To fill the hole left by its quickly departed series ”The Strip,” UPN has picked up ”I Dare You,” an hour-long showcase of incredible daredevil stunts that will debut on Jan. 18. In case you think that’s is a bad idea, consider this: UPN has also just ordered an additional nine episodes of ”Shasta McNasty.” Now are you starting to see a pattern?
ALL IS FORGIVEN Battery charges brought against Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra for brawling loudly in a Miami Beach hotel on Nov. 5 were dropped Monday, and the judge also discontinued an order for the two lovebirds to stay away from each other. The couple’s attorney, Roy Black, said that this altercation ”simply wasn’t a crime… [and was] typical of what happens between a married couple.” Well, maybe a married-in-Vegas-at-3 a.m.-then-annulled-two-months-later couple, sure.
CHARGED Two members of Digital Underground were arrested last weekend for allegedly groping a woman backstage after a Little Rock, Ark., concert, according to the Associated Press. Michael Sheldon Pierce and Kyle James Eastern Jr. (who was also charged with possession of marijuana) were charged with first-degree sexual abuse for allegedly dragging a woman into a bathroom and kissing and pawing her.