BIRTHS Madonna‘s got a new boy toy. The 41 year old Material Mom gave birth to a healthy son, Rocco Ritchie, today — three weeks earlier than expected. ”Overjoyed mother, father, sister Lourdes, and baby are all safe and sound at an undisclosed location. There will be no further information available,” said a statement released by her label Warner Bros. Just yesterday, Madonna said in a radio interview that she did not want to have her baby in the U.K. ”Have you been to the hospitals in England? They are old and Victorian. It is strange to go and see doctors in foreign countries. I like it here, but I like efficiency,” she told L.A.’s KIIS-FM. Seems like little Rocco is already onboard with the efficiency program — no tardiness for that kid.
TV NEWS And you thought nothing could top ”Survivor.” Exec producer Mark Burnett has signed on to develop a project that will lead to even more astronomical results than his current hit. The program, tentatively titled ”Destination Mir,” would have contestants vying for — get this — a trip aboard Russia’s Mir space station. Yikes. Call us when you have a grand prize that doesn’t come with a barf bag.
JOB PLACEMENT Robert Downey Jr. just can’t seem to escape the legal system. With the ink still drying on his release papers from prison (where he was serving time for drug charges), the 35 year old actor has signed to do a recurring role on David E. Kelley’s attorney dramedy ”Ally McBeal.” Kelley said he was ”thrilled” to have the ”Chaplin” star on the payroll. Downey, who begins shooting his stint next week, will appear in the show’s Oct. 23 season premiere, playing a mysterious stranger — and possible love interest for Ally. ”David’s a genius, Calista’s awesome, and once again I have a choice of shirt colors,” Downey quipped in a statement. (contributed by Dan Snierson)
TV NEWS It’s bigger than NBC’s World Series, ABC’s college football championship, and now it’s even surpassed the Grammys. This week’s ”Survivor” was CBS’ most watched broadcast show this season, as 28 million people tuned in to see Colleen get the boot, just outranking February’s music awards, which claimed 27.8 million viewers. Wonder what would happen if the island cutie did a halftime performance at the Superbowl?
PROTEST Rage Against the Machine is hoping to play a protest gig in L.A. during the Democratic National Convention next week, according to a screed against the two party system published on their website.”If you take a look at the funders for the major parties you see a roll call of insurance companies, media conglomerates, tobacco companies, telecommunications firms, and pharmaceutical companies. This is Democracy?” it says. ”We get to choose between Exxon’s man or Coca Cola’s man?” The band has applied for permission to rally the masses right outside the convention center, but it is unlikely that such an exercise in free speech will take place, reports Rolling Stone. A rep for the Los Angeles Police Department told the music mag that the group probably won’t be given a permit, as the performance would violate local sound ordinances. Perhaps Rage should try to get a sponsorship from Pepsi.
SETTLEMENT After all the ”Dieter” nastiness, Mike Myers will have to make nice with Universal. According to a statement released by the studio yesterday, the ”Austin Powers” star will write his next original comedy for Universal and DreamWorks as part of the settlement agreement in the ”Sprockets” breach of contract suit. ”I’m glad to put all of this behind me, and I’m looking forward to doing a movie that we can all be proud of,” the comedian said in the same release. Daily Variety has reported that DreamWorks heads Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg mediated the dispute.
LEGALESE Eminem rejected his mom’s offer to settle her $10 million defamation suit for a mere $2 million, according to court reports. The rapper’s lawyer says he plans to take the case to court with truth as his defense.
BOX OFFICE The summer just keeps getting better for start up DreamWorks. ”What Lies Beneath” became the studio’s second film to earn more than $100 million this season, and ”Chicken Run,” which has scratched up some $98.3 mil, is expected to pass the century mark next week, according to the Hollywood Reporter. That will make DW the studio with the most $100 mil plus releases this summer. Does that mean we get to stop calling it a start up soon?
CASTING Ben Affleck is pretty busy these days. Not only does he have an HBO reality show in the works, he’s negotiating to star in the Paramount drama ”Changing Lanes,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. Affleck is also considering the Billy Bob Thornton directed ”Cinderella Man,” but the project may be postponed by the threatened Screen Actors Guild strike.