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Anthony Edwards to exit ''ER'' next year

Plus, Sarah Michelle Gellar won’t follow ”Buffy” to another network, NAACP votes on TV boycott, and more

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E/R, Anthony Edwards
Anthony Edwards: Paul Drinkwater

FAREWELL Code Blue: ”ER” is hemorrhaging another cast member! Anthony Edwards, one of the few original players, announced yesterday that he will leave the series after the 2001- 2002 season, when his contract ends. ”I think that will be it,” he told the Associate Press. ”It’s been eight years of my family working around my schedule. It’s been a long time playing Dr. Greene.”

If Edwards does trade in his scrubs next year, the top rated drama must stay on the air at least through 2003- 2004, according to NBC’s contract with Warner Bros. Television. Will Dr. Greene succumb to the brain cancer he’s battled this season? ”There are a lot of El trains in Chicago,” he said. ”You could trip in front of any one of them.”

WB GIRL Golden Globe nominee Sarah Michelle Gellar, says she will not sign any deal that moves ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer” off the WB network. ”I will stay on ‘Buffy’ if and only if ‘Buffy’ stays on the WB,” Gellar told E! Online. ”I feel that we belong on the WB. It’s where our fans are…”

The comments come after weeks of speculation that the vampire hit’s producers, 20th Century Fox Television, may consider going to ABC or Fox if they can’t reach a renewal deal with the WB. Of course, since Gellar’s contract with ”Buffy” reportedly extends past May — when the current licensing deal with the WB expires — it looks like she’ll have to take her wanted undead and alive ways anywhere the producers want.

BOYCOTT ALERT Another boycott of the broadcasting industry is on the horizon, according to statements made by Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). ”The snail’s pace by networks leaves the NAACP little hope that the networks understand — or are unwilling to look at — the problem,” Mfume said during a panel discussion at the TV industry’s annual convention in Las Vegas.

He told TV executives that insufficient progress has been made since the major networks pledged to increase minority hiring on and off screen. The NAACP will vote soon on whether to launch a boycott. A CBS spokesman told Variety: ”We share Mr. Mfume’s concern about diversity both on the air and behind the cameras in our business.” As long as the shows get a double digit share, of course.

DIVORCE The estranged wife of Robert Downey Jr., Deborah Falconer, filed for divorce and sole custody of their 7 year old son, Indio, Tuesday in Los Angeles. Falconer, a 35 year old model and actress, has been married to Downey since 1992 and separated since 1996. According to Reuters, the divorce filing cited ”irreconcilable differences” and asks for unspecified child support and alimony payments.

Most potentially devastating to Downey, who had just won a Golden Globe for his recurrent role on ”Ally McBeal” two days earlier, is that Falconer requested that Downey’s visits with their son be supervised. Downey is due in court next Monday, Jan. 29, for a hearing related to his drug possession arrest last November.

LEGAL BRIEF David Spade‘s former personal assistant pleaded innocent Tuesday to charges of attacking the ”Just Shoot Me” star with a stun gun while attempting to rob his Beverly Hills mansion on November 29. David ”Skippy” Malloy, 30, pleaded not guilty to one count of assault with a stun gun and one count of burglary.

A Beverly Hills judge ordered Malloy to return for a preliminary hearing March 15; he faces up to six years in prison if convicted. Malloy was also instructed to stay at least 100 yards away from Spade and to seek psychiatric counseling. After the incident, Spade called Malloy a good friend who was ”obviously mentally troubled.” Maybe shock therapy would be appropriate.

TUBE NEWS TNT’s original telefilm ”Crossfire Trail,” which aired Sunday at 8 p.m., was the highest rated and watched movie ever to air on basic cable television. According to Nielsen, the Louis L’Amour Western, starring Tom Selleck, got a 9.6 rating (7.74 million households), easily surpassing the previous record holder, USA Network’s ”The China Lake Murders,” which posted an 8.4 rating in 1990. Now we know what people were watching instead of the Golden Globes.

HONORED Canadian composer and music producer David Foster was named ”Man of the Year” by the international record industry, which convenes at Midem, the annual trade fair in Cannes, France. At Tuesday’s ceremony, Foster, a 14 time Grammy winner who has worked with almost every major singer from Barbra Streisand to Whitney Houston, said: ”I want to find the next Celine Dion, I want to be premier of British Columbia, and I want to a top record executive. At 51, isn’t that enough?”

Foster recalled how the Beatles inspired him to join the music industry and said he hopes to foster that feeling in younger musicians. A pianist who once played in Chuck Berry’s band, Foster has written and produced hits for Celine Dion, Earth, Wind & Fire, Lionel Richie, Neil Diamond, and Michael Jackson, to name a few.

WHAT A THRILL The American Film Institute has announced that this year’s top 100 list will rank the most thrilling movies of all time. This is the AFI’s fourth installment in a series that, since 1998, has ranked overall films, stars, and comedies. Like its predecessor, the thrillers’ list will turn into a star hosted TV special, ”AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Thrills,” which CBS will air in June.

Currently, 400 nominees have been distributed to a panel of 1,800 judges made up of directors, screenwriters, historians, actors, editors, and cinematographers. Shoo ins should include everything from James Bond flicks to scarier fare like ”Jaws,” ”Jurassic Park,” and ”Silence of the Lambs.”