April 23, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

TUBE NEWS Men of America, it’s time to set your VCRs. NBC has announced that during May sweeps (which actually start the last week of April) ”Friends” will resort to a time tested ratings gimmick — girl on girl action. In the April 26 episode, called ”The One With Rachel’s Big Kiss,” Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) will bump into a former sorority sister (played by guest star Winona Ryder) and then flashback to a boozy encounter the two had in college ”when their friendship took a dramatic turn.” Gee, what could that mean? The network did not explain how far that turn would take the two.

REAL ESTATE According to local real estate sources, Oprah Winfrey just shelled out $50 million for a brand new home on 42 acres in Montecito, Calif. — an exclusive area near Santa Barbara. One broker calls it a ”prime” location and land that ”you think of as priceless.” (Oprah’s spokesperson tells EW.com that she is definitely looking in the Montecito area, but that no deal has been finalized.) The daytime diva has a penchant for collecting real estate. She also owns a 160 acre rustic ranch in rural Indiana, a condo in Chicago, a mountain retreat in Telluride, Colo., and a house on Fisher Island near Miami. –Tricia Johnson

CHART ATTACK Ani DiFranco‘s latest self released album, the double CD set ”Revelling/Reckoning” was the week’s biggest debut, selling 37,000 copies last week, according to SoundScan. DiFranco’s sales of her 15th full length album landed her at No. 50. Meanwhile farther north on the charts, ”Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 6” remained at No. 1, selling nearly 547,000 copies of the compilation album. 2Ppac‘s ”Until the End of Time” held on to No. 2, with 196,000 copies sold. Reggae superstar Shaggy grooved up a notch to No. 3 by selling 170,000 units of ”Hotshot.” Teen dream Aaron Carter made an impressive debut into the top 10, bopping up 9 spots to No. 4 with ”Aaron’s Party (Come and Get It),” with 105,000 copies sold. The Dave Matthews Band sold 83,000 copies of ”Everyday” for the No. 5 spot. Rounding out this week’s top 10 are: Ginuwine‘s ”That Life” at No. 6; Dream‘s ”It Was All a Dream,” rocketing up from No. 21 to No. 7; Dido‘s ”No Angel” at No. 8; Lifehouse‘s ”No Name Face” at No. 9; and Nelly‘s ”Country Grammar” at No. 10.

CASTING Julia Roberts and Adam Sandler may star in a feature comedy called ”Genie in a Bottle: The Sex Drink That’s Rocking Little Rock.” And no, this isn’t a presidential biopic, the film follows the use of Niagara, a new herbal drink that’s being advertised as female Viagra. Revolution Studios is currently negotiating to option journalist Suzi Parker’s story about the drink and how it’s becoming a local phenomenon around Little Rock. It might be a little early, but we’re gonna go out on a limb here and say this: We smell another Oscar for someone!

MOTOWN Detroit born celebrities Stevie Wonder and Della Reese are among the stars scheduled to return home for the city’s 300th anniversary celebration. Detroit’s official birthday is on July 24, and the celebrations will take place July 13-29. Wonder and Reese will each perform in free concerts. Motown legend Wonder, 50, will perform on July 21 as part of the Celebrity Homecoming Concert. ”The addition of Stevie Wonder to the birthday festival is of major significance to our celebration,” said Edsel B. Ford II, chairman of Detroit 300, the civic organization coordinating the festivites. ”We wanted to create a world class celebration that features the best of Detroit’s talent and heritage, and that is what we have done.”

OBIT Director Michael Ritchie, best known for his ’70s and ’80s films ”The Candidate,” ”The Bad News Bears,” and ”Fletch,” died Monday from prostate cancer. He was 62. Ritchie directed a total of 30 film and television projects, and his last feature was 1997’s family pic ”A Simple Wish,” starring Martin Short. Ritchie also spent the past couple of years working on Showtime’s series ”Beggars and Choosers.” ”We are deeply saddened by the loss of Michael Ritchie. His standard of excellence was exhibited not only in his work but also in his active service to the guild. Both we and the film community at large are left poorer by his passing,” said Directors Guild of America president Jack Shea in a statement. (Ritchie was a DGA board member). He is survived by his wife, Jimmie B. Ritchie, five children, two stepchildren, and two siblings.

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