Plus, Reege finds his new cohost, Jodie Foster replaces Nicole Kidman in ''Panic Room,'' and more

By Sandra P. Angulo
Updated February 06, 2001 at 12:00 PM EST
Sigourney Weaver: S. Russell/Corbis Sygma

American Pie 2

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SEQUEL Believe it or not, Ripley lives again. Sigourney Weaver has signed an unprecedented 15 million pound ($22 million) deal to star in ”Alien 5.” According to London’s Sunday Express newspaper, the film — which will be set on earth, for once — will hit theaters in 2004, the 25th anniversary of the original ”Alien” (1979). Weaver will also serve as the sequel’s executive producer, and ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon has signed on to write the sci fi installment. If the Sunday Express’ figures are correct, Weaver’s payday would make her the highest paid actress in Hollywood, surpassing even Julia Roberts‘ $20 million asking price.

FINAL ANSWER Who wants to be a millionaire’s cohost? Kelly Ripa, a star of the ABC soap ”All My Children,” will replace Kathie Lee Gifford as Regis Philbin’s permanent sidekick on ”Live with Regis & Kelly” (as it will be renamed) beginning Feb. 12. After more than six months of searching for the perfect match, Philbin announced the news during Monday’s show. ”Kelly has been a natural from the beginning and is going to make a terrific cohost,” Philbin said. ”We’re all looking forward to having a lot of fun.” In addition to her stint on ”Live,” Ripa will continue to play Hayley Santos on ”All My Children.” Just call her the queen of all daytime.

REPLACEMENT PART Oscar winner Jodie Foster will replace Nicole Kidman in ”The Panic Room” for director David Fincher (”Fight Club”). Kidman had to pull out of the project after two weeks because of a knee injury. Foster’s new role forced her to cancel heading the jury at the Cannes Film Festival, since ”Room” will shoot through May, when the international film festival is held.

CHART ATTACK The Nielsen numbers are in, and there will not be a recount. After round one of the battle between NBC’s ”super size” ”Friends” and CBS’ ”Survivor,” the winner is: CBS. The Ogakor and Kucha castaways attracted 29.0 million viewers in the 8 to 9 p.m. hour, while NBC’s ”Friends” and a special 20 minute edition of ”Saturday Night Live” drew an audience of 21.2 million.

The Eye network continued to dampen the Peacock’s feathers in the 9 to 10 p.m. timeslot, when ”CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” — which had moved from Friday nights — beat ”Will & Grace” and ”Just Shoot Me” in total viewers, with 21.3 million. But NBC entertainment president Jeff Zucker has no reason to bury his head: ”ER” continued to dominate the last hour of primetime, generating 22.2 million viewers. The medical drama was also the night’s top show in adults 18 to 49, the TV industry’s key demo.

CASTING Antonio Banderas will play a paparazzo photographer in Brian De Palma‘s thriller ”Femme Fatale.” De Palma has yet to land a leading lady, but the film is scheduled to start shooting March 12.

Eugene Levy has signed on to reprise his role as the observant father in ”American Pie II”. Levy, who costars in the upcoming Chris Rock comedy ”Down to Earth,” scored nearly $1 million for the ”Pie” sequel, his highest salary to date.

AWARD ALERT Jamie Bell, the 14 year old star of ”Billy Elliot” is quickly becoming this year’s Haley Joel Osment. In addition to Golden Globe, SAG, and British Academy award nominations, Bell has snagged the Best Newcomer award at the Evening Standard Film Awards in London — one of England’s most important movie awards. Bell’s onscreen mother, played by Julie Walters, scored the best actress award, while Jim Broadbent received the best actor trophy for his portrayal of William Gilbert in Mike Leigh’s ”Topsy-Turvy,” which was named the best film.

TUBE NEWS ABC has ordered the family drama ”Being Brewster” for the 2001- 2002 TV season. According to Variety, ”Brewster” is like the WB’s ”7th Heaven” on acid — whatever that means…. ABC also picked up yet another reality series for this fall: ”L.A. Law”. No, it’s not a Harry HamlinJimmy Smits reunion, it’s a legal show following real life civil lawyer Geoffrey Fieger (who’s best known for defending Jack Kevorkian) and his firm.

IN MEMORIAM The famous graffiti crew Tats Cru will paint a commemorative mural in the South Bronx, honoring rapper Big Punisher (a.k.a. Christopher Rios), the first anniversary of whose death is Wednesday. According to Loud Records, Big Pun’s former label, several of the rapper’s close friends and associates, including Fat Joe, Cuban Link, and Tony Sunshine, will witness the mural painting.

Rios’ second posthumous album, ”Endangered Species,” featuring a compilation of previously unreleased songs, hits from his first two albums, and a few collaborations with other artists, is due out April 3. Rios, who was Puerto Rican, held the distinction as the first Latino solo rapper to record a platinum record (his 1998 debut ”Capital Punishment” sold more than 2 million copies).

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American Pie 2

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