Plus, Russell Crowe flips the finger at Princeton student, Christina Aguilera will shill for Coca-Cola, and more

By Sandra P. Angulo
Updated April 02, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Malcolm in the Middle: Larry Watson/FOX

Born in Brooklyn

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AWARDS Fox’s ”Malcolm in the Middle” and Comedy Central’s ”The Daily Show With Jon Stewart: Indecision 2000” are among the 34 television programs to win the prestigious Peabody Award Thursday morning. Linwood Boomer, creator of Fox’s hit family show, said the award was a complete surprise to him: ”It’s such a highfalutin award, and our show is such a goofball show,” Boomer said. ”I’m stunned and, frankly, a little appalled.”

Winning probably didn’t surprise the creators of repeat honorees HBO’s ”The Sopranos” and NBC’s ”The West Wing.” The only other show to win Peabodys two years in a row was the quirky drama ”Northern Exposure” in the early ’90s. Other recipients include HBO’s miniseries ”The Corner” and the Oscar winning documentary ”King Gimp”. The winners, chosen from approximately 1100 entries, were announced by the University of Georgia’s College of Journalism, which has administered the awards since their creation in 1940. The Peabodys will be presented at a luncheon ceremony May 21 in New York.

UNIVERSAL SIGN Oscar winner Russell Crowe has ticked off students at Princeton University, where he is shooting his next movie, ”Beautiful Mind,” for Ron Howard. Crowe reportedly stuck out his middle finger at a 21 year old student who took a picture of him on campus Tuesday. ”He’s not a bad guy,” Howard told the Trentonian newspaper. ”It was out of character for him. He was signing a lot more autographs than giving middle fingers.” Crowe himself wouldn’t confirm the incident to a local television crew: ”Well, you know whatever is printed in the newspaper is absolutely true,” Crowe said sarcastically.

COLA WARS In an obvious response to Pepsi’s recently launched commercials featuring a scantily clad Britney Spears, Coca-Cola confirmed Thursday that it will use Spears’ competitor Christina Aguilera in an upcoming promotional campaign. Aguilera isn’t new to the company, however. The Grammy winning chanteuse has already starred in a Coke commercial that was broadcast in Latin America last summer. Miss ”Genie in a Bottle” will debut in North American ads this summer. Talk about being pop rivals.

REEL DEAL Dr. Dre is returning to film work with a soundtrack and a supporting role. Dre will executive produce a soundtrack for director F. Gary Gray‘s film ”Diablo,” which stars Vin Diesel. The Grammy winning producer worked with Gray on the 1996 action drama ”Set It Off,” in which Dre had a small role. Dre recently wrapped shooting a part in Warner Bros.’ cop drama ”Training Day,” starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke as narcotics officers for the LAPD. The film, directed by Antoine Fuqua (”Bait”), also features cameos by Snoop Dogg and Macy Gray.

QUITTING Rosie O’Donnell is leaving her talk show next year, and she isn’t afraid to say it. The comic actress’ popular daytime talkfest will air its final show in June 2002, O’Donnell told the Associated Press. ”I’m very angry that Warner Brothers won’t make an official announcement, because I look like an idiot,” O’Donnell said. ”I constantly say, ‘No, I’m not doing it’ and no one believes me.” According to syndication analysts, O’Donnell’s production company, Warner affiliate Telepictures Productions, doesn’t want to comment for fear stations will start looking for other shows to fill Rosie’s spot, even before she goes off the air. ”We’re not going to comment on ‘The Rosie O’Donnell Show’ in any respect,” Cathy Dore, a Telepictures spokeswoman, told the AP. As for O’Donnell, she’s ready to call it quits: ”It’s final. It’s been final for two years.”

TUBE NEWS ”Home Improvement” son Jonathan Taylor Thomas will star in a drama pilot for Fox called ”American Soap.” Thomas will play a college freshman (he actually is one, at Harvard) who discovers some disturbing secrets about his school.

Retired fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi has signed on for a supporting role in the ABC comedy pilot ”Born in Brooklyn.” Mizrahi will play a gay publicist whose best friend is the series star, Maria Bello (”ER”). Mizrahi’s past acting gigs include bitty parts in Woody Allen pics ”Celebrity” and ”Small Time Crooks.”

BIOPIC BIZ HBO just can’t get enough of celebrity biopics. This time, the life of Jackie Gleason will hit the small screen. Director Pete Segal (”Nutty Professor II: The Klumps”) will make the telefilm based on the biography ”Jackie Gleason: An Intimate Portrait of the Great One.” Although no one has been mentioned so far as a possible star, for your consideration: ”SNL” comedian Horatio Sanz.

TRIBUTE Popular musicians crowded into Radio City Music Hall Thursday night to honor Beach Boy founder Brian Wilson. Filmed by TNT for a television airing this summer, the show features performances of Beach Boys covers by Elton John and Billy Joel, recent Hall of Fame inductee Paul Simon, Vince Gill, Aimee Mann, and the Go-Go’s.

Beatles producer Sir George Martin called the Beach Boys an inspiration to the Fab Four: ”One of the great things about his music was its marvelous unpredictability,” Martin said. ”Brian’s sounds take us into a beautiful countryside.” According to the Associated Press, the highlight of the night was Ann and Nancy Wilson‘s rendition of ”Good Vibrations,” which Martin said many artists are afraid to perform. After the performances, all the singers joined Wilson and his daughter Carnie onstage for a jam session that included ”Barbara Ann,” ”Surfin USA,” and ”Fun, Fun, Fun.”

DIAPER DUTY ”ER” star Alex Kingston is trading in her scrubs for a nursing bra. Kingston, who plays Dr. Elizabeth Corday on the NBC drama, gave birth to a daughter Wednesday, her publicist Marcel Pariseau announced. Kingston and the baby, who weighed 6 lbs. 11 oz., are ”healthy and happy,” Pariseau said. Kingston’s husband is journalist Florian Haertel. This is the couple’s first child.

Born in Brooklyn

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