Plus, McVeigh: The Miniseries, Staind's cycle continues, and more

By Gary Susman
Updated June 18, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake: Steve Granitz/

American Terrorist

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OOPS… Rumors of the deaths of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake are greatly exaggerated. Los Angeles police, firefighters, and hospitals were deluged with hundreds of calls from around the world Tuesday night and early Wednesday after Dallas radio station KEGL-FM aired a report during its ”Extreme Nighttime Radio Show,” claiming that a Los Angeles car crash had killed Spears and put Timberlake in a coma. Though the show, hosted by San Jose-based DJs Kramer and Twitch, named no source for the story, the rumors grew via the Internet to the point where it was said that Spears had been speeding at more than 105 miles per hour on the L.A. freeways, and that an empty liquor flask was found at the scene of the accident. The fire department tried to discourage callers with a voicemail message claiming ”no knowledge of a well-known singer and her boyfriend” being involved in a crash. A Spears spokeswoman asserts that there was no crash, that Britney and Justin are alive and well, and that a lawsuit is possible. Kramer and Twitch have been disciplined for controversial broadcasts before, having been suspended for saying that motorists should run over bicyclists or let them slam into open car doors, and incurring thousands of dollars in FCC fines for on-air profanity.

OY, ‘VEIGH You saw the execution coverage, now watch the miniseries! Two days after Timothy McVeigh was put to death, CBS announced it has purchased the rights to ”American Terrorist,” the book by Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck that outraged many because of its lengthy interviews with an unrepentant McVeigh. Producer Gerry Abrams tells Variety that the miniseries will focus less on McVeigh than on individual acts of heroism in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, depicted in a ”Traffic”-like interweaving of the stories of ”seemingly unrelated people are involved in a common crisis.”

POP CHARTS Radiohead‘s ”Amnesiac” didn’t quite make listeners forget they’d bought ”Kid A” just eight months ago, and it failed to knock Staind from the top of the Billboard charts. ”Break the Cycle” spent its third week at No. 1, selling 244,000 copies, according to SoundScan. ”Amnesiac” debuted at No. 2, selling only 13,000 fewer CDs than Staind, and 25,000 more than ”Kid A” sold its first week. ”Free City,” by Nelly‘s rap group the St. Lunatics, debuted at No.3 (196,000 sold). The ”Moulin Rouge” soundtrack, surging on the performance of its hit single ”Lady Marmalade” at the MTV Movie Awards, landed at No. 4 with 179,000 units. Destiny’s Child‘s ”Survivor” slipped to No. 5 (173,000 sold).

Other debuts this week include Jessica Simpson’s ”Irresistible” at No. 6 and rapper Turk‘s ”Young and Thuggin”’ at No. 9. ”NOW That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 6” took the No. 7 spot. Tool‘s ”Lateralus” was No. 8, and Missy Elliott‘s ”Miss E…So Addictive” was No. 10. Next week, Staind face another challenger, Blink-182‘s ”Take Off Your Pants & Jacket.”

POLITICAL PORK Michael Skupin‘s pig-killing incident on ”Survivor” keeps coming back to haunt him. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protested the hog-icide in February, and an animal-rights activist repeatedly pepper-sprayed him in the face on Tuesday in Columbia, Mo. David Cravens was arrested for assault for the spraying, which also hit two children. Skupin, on hand to tout a statewide workplace safety program, joked that this marked his ”second workplace injury,” after his fall into a campfire on ”Survivor.” It’s not clear how this incident will affect his decision whether to run for the U.S. Senate from Michigan — he’s one of six people who’ve been cited as possible Republican candidates for the seat….

In other ”Survivor” news, Amber Brkich, who appears in a revealing pose on the cover of the current issue of Stuff, tells the magazine that Kimmi Kappenberg wasn’t the only contestant obsessed with the lack of opportunity for self-gratification. Of Colby Donaldson she says, ”He amazed himself at how long he had gone without masturbating.” She also said that the Outback didn’t treat Tina Wesson‘s face well. ”I think she could have gotten things lifted here and there.” She even criticized Bryant Gumbel for his debriefing of her on ”The Early Show, ” saying, ”He was sooo rude to me.” Guess she’s not following Michael into politics.

TOMB EVADER Another day, another outrageous Angelina Jolie story. The Internet Movie Database reports that she was once so depressed that she took out a contract on her own life. (She favored murder over suicide so that her loved ones would be spared guilty thoughts that they could have prevented her death.) ”This is going to sound insane, but there was a time I was going to hire somebody to kill me. The person spoke very sweetly to me, he made me think about it for a month. And, after a month, other things changed in my life and I was surviving again.” So kids, stay in school, don’t do drugs, and don’t hire a hitman to off yourself.

REAR WINDOW Ben Affleck used a stunt double in ”Pearl Harbor,” not just for combat sequences, but for the butt-baring shot where Kate Beckinsale gives him an injection. Then again, Beckinsale had a hand double for that shot, who says she was mightily disappointed that she didn’t get to touch the actual Affleck ass. However, David Duchovny assures moviegoers that he did not use a stunt butt for his moon shot in ”Evolution.” He tells Mr. Showbiz, ”It wasn’t like, ‘Please put my ass in the movie.”’ Still, he boasts, ”My butt is so good, it’s like the Amazing Perfect Ass.” Apparently, he knows all about perfect asses.

DARKNESS AT 11:35 He’s not singing on MTV, but next week, Jay Leno will go unplugged. Doing his part to ease California’s power shortage, Leno will tape the June 21 episode of ”The Tonight Show” without stage lights, monitors, amplifiers or other juice-guzzling appliances. NBC notes that the electricity used on a single evening’s taping of the show equals the amount a typical family home uses in a month. The program won’t be completely dark, though. There will be a segment on nocturnal animals (fireflies, maybe?), and during a visit from Arsenio Hall — who once boasted that his talk show would ”kick Jay Leno’s ass” — sparks should fly.

INSTANT CARMEN Carmen Electra says her wild partying days are over. She tells Mademoiselle magazine, ”At one point, it was all about going out — everything had to be over the top. That was an empty place to be.” Now, however, ”I like to stay at home on Friday nights and listen to ‘The Art of Happiness’ by the Dalai Lama,” she says. ”It’s all about balance.”

That is, unless she’s sharing the world’s biggest hot tub with 70 strangers. Electra hosted a hot tub party in Manhattan’s Union Square Park on Tuesday afternoon, inviting passers by to take a dip in a 24-foot-wide hot tub that the Guinness Book of World Records has certified as the world’s largest. Though she was wearing a red one-piece bathing suit that evoked her days on ”Baywatch,” she didn’t get in the tub herself. ”It’s too wet and wild in there!” she said. Hmm, maybe she really has mellowed.

REEL DEALS Horror king Wes Craven has long been accused of making junk, and now he certainly is. He’s producing ”Junk” for Dimension Films, to be directed by Robert Kurtzman (”Wishmaster”). It’s a family sci-fi tale about a group of kids who find something out of this world at a junkyard….

BOOB TUBE Good news for ”Late Night” fans who’ve endured a year of Andy Richter withdrawal: Conan O’Brien‘s former sidekick is getting his own series. ”Andy Richter Controls the Universe” will debut next winter as a midseason replacement on Fox. Yeah, but if he controls the universe, how come he’s not on in the fall, instead of Fox’s ”comedy wheel” of reruns?…

Perhaps to make amends for that boiled bunny, Glenn Close is going ecological. She’s starring in and producing ”Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring,” a TV movie for TNT about the environmental pioneer and best-selling author.

American Terrorist

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  • Dan Herbeck
  • Lou Michel
  • Regan Books