Shaggy's ''Hotshot'' returns to No. 1, UPN tries to steal ''Buffy,'' and more
REAL TV Acting pals Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are executive producing a new reality series for ABC. Called ”The Runner,” the show, which will premiere this fall, is like a cross between ”Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” and ”The Fugitive.” A contestant will try to run across the U.S. in 28 days, à la ”Forrest Gump.” Meanwhile, TV viewers are given clues about his whereabouts. Registered TV viewers can then ”catch” the runner, if he’s running in their neighborhood, for example. Each day that the runner isn’t caught, the prize money increases. The game ends with either the runner completing his cross country trip or a viewer catching him, thereby snagging all the money.
CHART ATTACK Reggae superstar Shaggy never ceases to amaze — his ”Hotshot” surpassed the Dave Matthews Band and Aerosmith to take back the No. 1 spot on the album chart. ”Hotshot” sold more than 209,000 copies last week, according to SoundScan figures. DMB’s ”Everyday” drops one place after two weeks at the top, selling 199,000 copies. Newly inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Aerosmith sold 125,000 copies of ”Just Push Play,” which falls to No. 3. Dido‘s ”No Angel” claims its highest chart position thus far: No. 4, with 110,000 sold. Eric Clapton‘s latest album ”Reptile” debuted at No. 5, selling more than 101,000 copies. Two other acts also cracked the Billboard chart’s top 10 with new albums: R&B singer Tank‘s ”Force of Nature” lands at No. 7, and Jaheim‘s ”Ghetto Love” debuts at No. 9. Rounding out the rest of the top 10 are: Eve‘s ”Scorpion” (No. 6); DJ Clue‘s ”The Professional, Part 2” (No. 8); and Limp Bizkit‘s ”Chocolate Starfish and the Hot-Dog Flavored Water” (No. 10). And no, it’s not a typo, ”The Beatles 1” is now No. 12 on the chart — the first time since the album debuted in November that it’s dropped out of the top 10.
DEAL PLEASE Netlet UPN is taking it up a notch to steal ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer” from the WB, Variety reports. UPN execs have been eyeing the Twentieth Century Fox Television program for awhile, and recently gave the studio a reportedly significant offer. UPN is still considered a last resort, however, for the vampire series. Despite allowing its deadline for contract negotiations to expire, the WB is still in active talks with Fox, and may have already increased its previous offer of $1.6 million per episode. If the WB doesn’t come up with a satisfactory deal, it’s likely that the studio would sell the show to its sister network Fox. Ah, vertical integration. For more on this situation see our report on ”Buffy”’s negotiations.
TUBE NEWS Justin Timberlake, the cute curly haired one of ‘N Sync is negotiating to play the Scarecrow in ”The O.Z.,” Fox’s contemporary adaptation of ”The Wizard of Oz.” Production on the TV musical won’t start until after the possible actors’ strike this summer, which is good since Brandy, who was cast as Dorothy, decided to pass on the project. Fox has been talking to another young singer, Mya, for the role. Fox is also courting John Leguizamo (”Summer of Sam”) to play a wicked warlock, while Little Richard is reportedly interested in being the man behind the curtain (the Wizard)…. Meanwhile, John Cleese is in talks to star in the comedy pilot ”HMO,” for ABC. Cleese would play the medical director at a terribly run hospital. This is the ”Monty Python” veteran’s first American television project.
CASTING Meryl Streep has signed on for a small role in director Steven Spielberg‘s ”Minority Report,” which starts production Thursday. The futuristic drama stars Tom Cruise and Colin Farrell…. Jason Alexander will star opposite Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black in Twentieth Century Fox’s comedy ”Shallow Hal.” The Peter and Bobby Farrelly comedy is set to start shooting Wednesday.
HOSPITALIZED Loretta Lynn is being treated for pneumonia at a hospital near her Hurricane Mills, Tenn., home. The country icon will miss a scheduled appearance at a tribute to singer Johnny Russell on Thursday and on the Grand Ole Opry radio show Saturday. Lynn, 65, was admitted Tuesday and is in good condition. She will reportedly remain in the hospital for observation. Just last week, Lynn performed on A&E’s ”Live by Request.”
CONGRATULATIONS It’s diaper time for actresses Elisabeth Shue (”Hollow Man”) and Amy Brenneman (”Judging Amy”), who both gave birth to daughters this week, according to Reuters. Brenneman, 36, who is married to TV director Brad Silberling, had the couple’s first child Tuesday at a Los Angeles hospital. The baby girl, weighing 7 lb. 12 oz., was named Charlotte. On Monday, Shue, 37, welcomed baby Stella. This is Shue’s second child with husband, director Davis Guggenheim (”Gossip”).