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''Survivor II'' will challenge ''Friends'' on Thursdays

Plus, Bob Geldof gets custody of Hutchence’s daughter, ”Madigan Men” is axed, and more

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Jeff Probst
Probst: Monty Brinton/CBS

SURVIVOR CBS is about to give new meaning to the words ”channel surfing.” The net has decided to air its hotly anticipated ”Survivor” sequel opposite ”Friends” on Thursday nights next year. ”Survivor: The Australian Outback” will premiere on Jan. 28, immediately following the Super Bowl. The second show will air in its old time slot on Wed., Feb. 1 — the first night of sweeps. But then it’s over to Thursdays to face off against the nation’s most popular sitcom.

CBS’ announcement ends months of speculation about where the ratings behemoth would end up. Rival network execs had thought — or hoped — that the reality show would continue to air on Wednesdays, where there would have been little competition — and tremendous ratings potential. ”In laying out all the options, ultimately it came down to what could most benefit our schedule overall,” Kelly Kahl, CBS’ senior VP of program planning and scheduling, told Variety. ”We needed a series to help bring some people to our network on that night.”

Indeed, the Eye has suffered primetime declines this fall — most notably on Thursdays, where NBC has enjoyed a lengthy unchallenged reign. Ironically, CBS’ prez Les Moonves launched ”Friends” before leaving Warner Bros. for the Eye. Now, he’s out to trample his own creation. Looks like he learned a thing or two about severing ties from Richard Hatch.

CUSTODY Bob Geldof has been awarded custody of the orphaned child of Paula Yates and Michael Hutchence. Four year old Tiger Lily will live with Geldof for at least a year, so that she can be with her three half sisters from the rocker’s previous marriage to Yates. Hutchence’s sister Tina Shorr had also asked for custody, arguing that the publicity surrounding Geldof would harm the child. But the judge rejected her application. Hutchence committed suicide in December 1997; Yates died under suspicious circumstances in September.

NIXED ”Madigan Men” are no more. ABC has decided to ax the show — which stars Gabriel Byrne — after it completes its first 12 episodes. The comedy about three generations of Irish men in New York has been airing on Friday nights, a difficult time period for the net. ”Trouble With Normal” and its replacement, ”Dot Comedy,” also aired on that night; both have already been canceled. Maybe people just don’t feel like laughing when they’re sitting at home on a Friday night.

MUSIC NEWS Songwriters’ Hall of Fame inductee Brian Wilson has picked up the pen for the first time in more than a decade. The Beach Boy — who we last heard from on his self titled 1988 album — has posted a new tune, titled ”On Christmas Day,” on his website. In a note on the site, he says he was inspired to write the song while attending his 3 year old daughter Delanie’s school parents’ night. He asked the women sitting next to him for a pen, and began scribbling down the song. The next morning he gathered together his backup group and recorded the tune.

CASTING Julia Stiles is really styling now. The ”10 Things I Hate About You” star has signed on to ”The Bourne Identity,” a new thriller directed by ”Go”‘s Doug Liman based on the novel by Robert Ludlum. The 19 year old actress will appear opposite Matt Damon, and several rising young stars including ”Croupier”‘s Clive Owen and ”American Beauty”‘s Chris Cooper.