What the country is talking about this week ...

By Jim Mullen
January 26, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

1 Pandas The National Zoo is paying China $1 million a year for two animals that just sit around and eat all day. They could have hired two lobbyists.

2 NBC To cut costs, it plans to ax up to 10 percent of its workforce. Tough decision — cut staff or make better shows.

3 The Surrendered Wife The book claims that in the happiest marriages the woman does exactly what the man says to do. It’s in the fiction section.

4 Survivor 2 Where a bunch of half-naked, sun-baked people will eat strange food and do crazy things for the camera. That sounds like Venice Beach every day.

5 Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger The Hollywood couple is calling it quits, citing ”irreconcilable differences.” Like she has a career and he doesn’t.

6 Calista Flockhart The Ally McBeal star adopted a baby. She has to eat for one half now.

7 Super Bowl Sunday I say we move this to a Monday and see how fast we can make it a new national holiday.

8 Socks and Buddy The cat stays in D.C., the dog goes to New York. Bill gets neutered.

9 Wilson The blood-stained volleyball that kept Tom Hanks company in Cast Away sold for $18,400 at an online auction. Won’t that look nice in the living room.

10 Parking-lot rage Steal someone’s spot and they may vandalize your car. Ha, ha, the joke’s on you, it’s my dad’s car.

11 Sundance It’s cell-phone capital of the world because indie filmmakers must stay in touch. With their parents.

12 California The state faces power outages. Thousands of rich folk may be trapped in their gated communities for days.

13 The Wedding Planner The No. 1 bridal superstition: It’s bad luck for the groom to see Jennifer Lopez in any dress before the wedding.

14 Britney Spears The singing teenager reportedly bought a $3 million home in Beverly Hills. Stay in school, kids, or you might end up like that.

15 Golden Globes Given by the tiny Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Doesn’t it bother anyone that there are more prizes than voters?