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Britney Spears signs Pepsi endorsement deal

Plus, Kidman returns to the London stage, USA Films wants Altman’s period piece, and more

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Britney Spears
Britney Spears: Joe Vericker/Corbis Sygma

SWEET DEAL Pepsi got the right one, baby, one more time. Britney Spears is the latest pop diva to join the anointed group of celebrities with Pepsi endorsement deals. In a press conference at PepsiCo’s headquarters in Upstate New York, Spears announced to hundreds of employees (and their screaming teens) that her Pepsi predecessors — including Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Faith Hill, and Ray Charles — are ”all of my heroes.”

Spears was presented with a Pepsi vending machine for her Louisiana home. Although details of the deal have not been disclosed, advertising analysts say Spears must have netted somewhere between Venus Williams‘ $40 million deal with Reebok and Tiger Woods‘ $100 million contract with Nike. With that much cash, Spears could buy the whole world a Pepsi. Oops! That’s the wrong soda slogan.

MOVING ON Apparently, it didn’t take long for Nicole Kidman to move beyond her separation from Tom Cruise. The National Theater in London announced yesterday that Kidman is likely to star in the stage adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s ”The Lady from the Sea.” According to Reuters, a theater spokeswoman said, ”It is likely to happen, but we cannot confirm the dates.” Kidman last starred in the critically acclaimed West End play, ”The Blue Room.” Her performance in the David Hare production was called ”pure theatrical Viagra.” In this one, she’ll play a 19th century Norwegian woman married to an older country doctor. Sounds like pure theatrical Prozac.

REEL DEAL USA Films is ready to Pepsi’s got the right one baby, one more time make another award worthy film. Now that ”Traffic” is a bona fide hit, both critically and commercially, the studio wants to strike a deal with Robert Altman for the domestic rights to his upcoming period film, ”Gosford Park.” Loosely based on legendary French director Jean Renoir’s ”La Regle du Jeu,” ”Park” follows a socially diverse group attending a dinner party in 1930s England. Like all of Altman’s films, the drama boasts an impressive ensemble: Jude Law, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emily Watson, Clive Owen (”Croupier”), and many other supporting performances.

SCREEN SEX Sexual activity on TV has risen 12 percent since the 1997- 1998 season, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study released Feb. 6. According to the organization’s second ”Sex on TV” survey, nearly two thirds (68 percent) of the 1,114 television shows observed in the 1999- 2000 season featured sex; that’s 11 percent more sex than occurred on the small screen three seasons ago. Further, only 2 percent of those scenes placed ”strong emphasis on sexual risk or responsibility.” Thank God for Lifetime.

CASTING Morgan Freeman and ”Coyote Ugly” star Bridget Moynahan are in talks to join Ben Affleck in ”The Sum of All Fears,” the latest adaptation of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series (which also includes ”The Hunt for Red October” and ”Patriot Games”). The Paramount thriller starts production Monday, Feb. 12.

Writer- director John Sayles‘ (”Limbo”) latest film will star Angela Bassett and Edie Falco (”The Sopranos”). Called ”Gold Coast,” the Florida set drama will begin shooting in mid- April. This is Bassett’s third collaboration with Sayles (”Passion Fish,” ”City of Hope”) and Falco’s first.

”Little Women” costars Susan Sarandon and Claire Danes are reteaming in ”Igby Goes Down,” a comedy for first time director and sometime actor Burr Steers (”The Last Days of Disco”). Ryan Phillippe is also in negotiations to join the cast. The indie will be shot between the cast’s other film commitments.

TUBE NEWS ABC’s ”Good Morning America” made good on their promise to televise childbirth. In fact, FIVE infants were born throughout Tuesday’s ”GMA.” The first baby to make her debut on national television was Kelsey Nolan, born in Boston during the first minutes of the broadcast.

Three more little ones were welcomed in the first half hour, with the fifth making his or her appearance during the last 30 minutes of the show. There were two girls and three boys, all of whom weighed more than 7 pounds and were delivered without complication. ”It’s exhausting giving birth five times,” ”GMA” exec producer Shelley Ross told Reuters of the split screen coverage.

WHO’S THE BOSS HBO will air Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band‘s first televised concert. The two hour special, taken from the Boss’ two Madison Square Garden performances last June, is scheduled for April 7. According to Variety, HBO execs plan to heavily promote the concert, but don’t expect the famously reticent Springsteen to hit the late night or talk show circuit.

IN MEMORIAM The Jamaican flags flew high Tuesday, Feb. 6 on Hollywood Boulevard. In honor of what would’ve been Bob Marley‘s 56th birthday, the reggae legend received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Marley died of cancer in 1981.