Plus, no writers' strike yet, Jerry Seinfeld hits the road, and more

By Gary Susman
Updated May 07, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Niki Taylor: Nancy Kaszerman/Zuma Press

TAYLOR TRAUMA Supermodel Niki Taylor sustained severe internal injuries in a car crash in Atlanta on Sunday, her agent revealed yesterday. According to the police report, she was a passenger in the 1993 Nissan Maxima and was wearing a seatbelt when driver James Renegar reached for his ringing cellphone and slammed into a utility pole. Renegar and passenger John Lack, who said they were old friends of Taylor’s, were treated and released from the hospital.

Taylor, who suffered trauma to her liver and abdomen but no head injuries or facial lacerations, remains in critical condition and under heavy sedation at Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital, says her agent, Lou Taylor (no relation). Taylor, 26, is currently a model for Cover Girl cosmetics and has twin 5 year old sons, Jake and Hunter, by ex- husband Matt Martinez.

STRIKE BREAK Will they or won’t they? The Writers Guild of America’s contract expired at 12:01 Wednesday morning, but negotiations with producers to avert a strike continued for three hours beyond that deadline. Talks are scheduled to resume at noon, but without a contract, WGA members could call a vote within five days to authorize a strike. If the writers walk, and if Hollywood actors follow suit when their contract expires on June 30, film and TV production could shut down all summer. Still at issue is a $100 million gap between the writers’ demands and the producers’ offer.

ROAD SEIN Man of leisure Jerry Seinfeld is kicking off his first stand up comedy tour since he retired his sitcom in 1998. He’ll yada yada in six cities over the next two months, starting Wednesday at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore. Upcoming cities include Rochester, N.Y.; Providence, R.I.; Boston; Minneapolis; and Pittsburgh.

CASTING Jennifer Lopez is in talks to star in ”Tick-Tock,” where she’d play an FBI agent on the trail of a mad bomber in Los Angeles.

To paraphrase ”Josie and the Pussycats,” Heath Ledger is the new Wes Bentley; the ”Knight’s Tale” star may replace Bentley (”American Beauty”) in ”Monster’s Ball.”

Racing against the strikes are the producers of ”Halloween 8” and ”Scorched,” which hope to shoot in May before the Screen Actors Guild contract expires. Reviving the undead horror series will be Busta Rhymes, Tyra Banks, and Sean Patrick Thomas (”Save the Last Dance”), while the heist comedy ”Scorched” is looking to shoot with Woody Harrelson, Alicia Silverstone, and Rachael Leigh Cook.

VIDEO HISTORY Forget about the Beatles, Nirvana, and the Rolling Stones. The best video belongs, hands down, to Michael Jackson. According to VH1, Jackson’s ”Thriller,” more film short than video, is No. 1 on their ”100 Greatest Videos” list, which was released Tuesday. Seventeen minutes long and directed by feature filmmaker John Landis (”An American Werewolf in London”), ”Thriller” premiered on MTV in 1983. Coming in second is Madonna’s ”Like a Prayer” video, which caused an international controversy over what the Catholic church considered blasphemous depictions. Madonna had six videos on the top 100, including ”Justify My Love”, which landed at No. 7.

Jackson had the second highest number of videos on the list, with five. ”Scream”, his duet with sister Janet, came in No. 9. Rounding out the top 10 are: Peter Gabriel‘s stop action video for ”Sledgehammer” at No. 3; Nirvana‘s high school anthem ”Smells Like Teen Spirit” at No. 4; Guns N’ Roses”November Rain” at No. 5; Pearl Jam‘s ”Jeremy” at No. 6; A-ha‘s ”Take On Me” at No. 8; and Herbie Hancock‘s ”Rockit” at No. 10.

REALITY TV MTV is already prepared for a writers’ strike, with four unscripted series ready to air by July. The shows include ”Becoming,” where a fan gets to spend two days with a pop star; quiz show ”Who Knows the Band”; ”Flipped,” a documentary series about troubled teens; and ”Kidnapped,” a contest in which three friends face challenges to win money to ransom an abducted fourth friend.

Also getting into the reality show business is the History Channel. On its show ”The Ship,” to air in 2002, contestants will spend six weeks sailing to Australia on a replica of the ”Endeavor,” an 18th century vessel used by Captain Cook.

HONORS Continuing the neverending awards season, Whoopi Goldberg has been named the fourth annual winner of the Mark Twain prize for humor by the Kennedy Center for the Peforming Arts. ”Our dear Mr. Twain put it best when he said ‘Humor is the good-natured side of a truth,”’ Goldberg said when she learned of the award on Tuesday. She’ll be honored at a ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., on October 15, following in the footsteps of past winners Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, and Carl Reiner.

Meanwhile, the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences has named Julio Iglesias its 2001 Person of the Year, in recognition of his career and his philanthropy. He’ll be honored September 11 in Miami.

TV RATINGS THIS ‘WEAK’ Is Anne Robinson NBC’s weakest link? Robinson and her imported game show dipped 20 percent in the Nielsen ratings during ”Weakest Link”’s third week, with 11.1 million viewers, compared to 14.1 million viewers last week and as many as 17.5 viewers during its first week. Tom Brokaw, on the other hand, may be NBC’s strongest link, as ”NBC Nightly News” marked its 52nd straight week as the top rated evening newscast. And over at CBS, Sunday’s live production of ”On Golden Pond,” which reunited ”Sound of Music” stars Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, wasn’t too lively, reeling in 11.9 million viewers and finishing last in its timeslot.