Plus, ''Mission: Impossible 2'' gets pushed back to next summer, and ''Friends'' lands a huge payday

By Josh Wolk
Updated July 21, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

SEARCH UPDATE The bodies of John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette were all located in the fuselage of Kennedy’s crashed plane 7.5 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, and lifted to the surface. The Associated Press reports that Kennedy’s body will be cremated and then buried back at sea at 9 a.m. Thursday morning, and his family will hold a private Mass for the couple in a New York Catholic church Friday morning, while a memorial service for Lauren Bessette will take place on Saturday evening in Greenwich, Conn., where the sisters grew up.

SCHEDULE SHIFTS If your Christmas wish is to see ”Mission: Impossible 2,” you’d be better off asking for a pony. The Tom Cruise sequel has been bumped from a Dec. 17 release date to May 24, 2000. This will make next summer the season of Cruise, since his other project, Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi flick ”Minority Report,” is scheduled for a June 30 opening…. ”The Blair Witch Project”‘s horrifically great limited debut this weekend (a $56,002 per-screen average in 27 theaters) has scared the hell out of the other studios that had movies opening on July 30, when ”Blair Witch” expands nationally. Universal has pushed ”Mystery Men” back one week, to open Aug. 6, and Warner Bros. has moved ”Deep Blue Sea” up a couple of days, to July 28.

MONEYMAKER Perhaps the title of ”Friends” should be changed to ”Rich-Ass Friends.” NBC has just made a deal to pay the show’s studio, Warner Bros. Television, $5 million an episode to keep the sitcom on the air through the spring of 2002, according to Variety. (This sum is a hair short of NBC’s $5.5 million per-episode bill for ”Seinfeld” in its last season.) And this number doesn’t even include the salaries of the cast, who are still in negotiations: They currently make $100,000 per episode, but could be getting a raise to somewhere around $250,000. ”Friends” is currently the most-watched comedy on television.

CONCERT ANNOUNCEMENT Say adios to summer the teenybopper way, won’t you, as Britney Spears and ‘N Sync headline the ”L’Oreal Summer Music Mania ’99” concert, set to air on UPN on Aug. 31. The show, which will be recorded next month in San Diego, will also feature 98 Degrees, B*Witched, and Tyrese.

MR. SPRINGER GOES TO WASHINGTON? ”Speaker, this health-care-reform bill stinks as much as a cross-dressing diaper fetishist!” You could be hearing that on C-Span if the Ohio Democratic Party succeeds in convincing Jerry Springer to run for U.S. Senate. ”I talked to Jerry within the last week about whether he’d be interested,” said Tim Burke, the party chairman in Cincinnati’s Hamilton County district. ”He said, ‘Hmm… that’s interesting.”’ It wouldn’t be Springer’s first foray into politics: He was elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 1971 (and was booted after being caught hiring a prostitute), but successfully came back as the city’s mayor in 1977.

INJURED Perhaps Eminem‘s name should be ”Slip Shady.” He accidentally tumbled off the edge of a wet stage while guesting at a concert by Redman and Nas Sunday night in Connecticut, bruising two ribs, according to MTV News. The rapper had to sit out last night’s Warped Tour concert in Pittsburgh, and also has to miss tonight’s show in Philadelphia.

RESEARCH-HEAVY When the Revolutionary War drama ”The Patriot” starts filming with Mel Gibson this fall, you can bet that all sides of his tricorn hat will be at historically accurate angles: The Smithsonian Institution has agreed to advise filmmakers Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich (”Godzilla,” ”Independence Day”) on the film. This is the first time that the hallowed museum is collaborating on a movie project.

GAINFULLY EMPLOYED The recently canceled ”Unhappily Ever After”’s displaced bombshell, Nikki Cox, has landed a new sitcom that will air on the WB starting in the fall of 2000. Few details are known yet about the budding series, but it will be created by Bruce Helford, the cocreator of ”The Norm Show” and ”The Drew Carey Show.”

REEL DEAL Hall-of-fame director John Frankenheimer (”The Manchurian Candidate,” ”Ronin”) has signed a four-film deal with Miramax, for which he just finished shooting the Ben Affleck heist film ”Reindeer Games.”

PUBLIC CONTROVERSY A House subcommittee is investigating the revelation that PBS has been trading donor lists with various political organizations, including the Democratic National Committee and various Republican entities. This no-no was announced in a May 8 article by the Boston Globe, which revealed that roughly 50 of PBS’ 75 biggest stations have been involved in the practice. The top execs of the publicly and government-funded network have apologized for the breach in policy, and have promised to investigate how it happened. It’s even more important that they seem penitent now, as the network is in the midst of asking the government to raise its funding from $200 million to $475 million over the next several years, according to Variety.

OBITUARY Irish actor Donal McCann died on Sunday at the age of 56 after a 20-month struggle with cancer. McCann was especially renowned for his stage work in Ireland, but he also starred in the films ”Stealing Beauty” and ”Out of Africa,” and he’ll be seen in John Turturro’s upcoming directorial effort ”Illuminata.”