What the country is talking about this week...

By Jim Mullen
Updated January 05, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

1 PRINCE WILLIAM The heir to Britain’s throne is helping the poor in South America. Of course, next to him we’re all poor.

2 DIMMING O’ THE YULE TREE A statewide electricity shortage starts a new holiday tradition in California. That and roasting power-company CEOs over an open fire.

3 FRONTIER HOUSE PBS is looking for three groups to live like the pioneers — without electricity and running water — for six months. So is my landlord.

4 BACKSTREET BOYS According to the Smoking Gun, they want 24 peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches in their dressing room before each concert. The groupies love them.

5 DRACULA 2000 Wes Craven’s yuletide offering. The holidays just scream ”Evil Undead!”

6 CALISTA FLOCKHART She fainted on the set of Ally McBeal. Someone forgot to fill her feeder.

7 STOCKING STUFFERS A jeweler’s offering a sterling butterfly ballot necklace with ”hanging chad” for $125. No matter who you send it to, it goes to someone else.

8 MADONNA The pop diva married movie director Guy Ritchie in Scotland. Despite rumors, he’ll keep his name.

9 A-ROD How will Alex Rodriguez’s $252 million baseball contract affect fans? Dad, can I have $50 for a dog and a Coke?

10 ‘N SYNC LIP BALM If you pull off the label it says ”The Phantom Menace Lip Balm.”

11 2001 We don’t have to worry about computer crashes erasing bank accounts this year. We’ve got the stock market.

12 CELINE DION The singer says her baby is a twin, but the other embryo is still frozen. It’s news like this that makes you want to hear more about the election.

13 FINDING FORRESTER Author Sean Connery teaches a disadvantaged student how to become a writer. I thought the idea was to get people out of poverty.

14 ALL THE PRETTY HORSES Texas cowpoke Matt Damon toys with death down Mexico way. He drinks the water.

15 THIRTEEN DAYS Kevin Costner helps JFK save the world from nuclear war. His job? To keep the President’s mind off sex for two weeks.