MUCH LOVE Like his sitcom peers Kelsey Grammer and Drew Carey, Ray Romano just got a nice fat raise in a deal worth $40 million over the next two seasons. Not only will the ”Everybody Loves Raymond” star start earning a reported $800,000 ($50,000 more than what Carey will earn), but the raise includes retroactive pay boosts going back two years to the show’s fourth season. Discussing money in an interview last week with financial website Bankrate.com, Romano said, ”My wife does all the finances. If she ever left me, I swear, I’d be selling futons again. I don’t even know if I get paid on this job. I think it’s all barter.”…
NOTHING COMPARES 2 U Forget that she said she was a lesbian last year, or that she took a vow of celibacy two years ago when she became a priest of a Catholic splinter group. Sinéad O’Connor is getting married. Journalist Nick Sommerlad, 27, told Ireland’s Irish Sun newspaper that he’s engaged to the 34-year-old singer. It wouldn’t be her first liaison with a journalist; she had a two-year relationship with a columnist named Dermot Hayes. The artist formerly known as Mother Bernadette Mary is twice divorced and has two kids. No wedding date has been set.
TUBE TALK If you guessed that the word ”shit” was uttered 162 times unbleeped during last week’s episode of ”South Park,” you may win Comedy Central’s crap-counting contest. The show’s well-publicized attempt to demystify the S-word raised curiously little protest and only about four emails of praise. That’s a far cry from the furor the show used to raise when it was new, cocreator Matt Stone told the New York Times. ”No one cares anymore. The standards are almost gone.”…
Jerry Seinfeld says he and his former costars haven’t completely ruled out a ”Seinfeld” reunion. ”That’ll be a possibility once all four [of our] careers are definitely in the toilet,” he told TV Guide. At last, some good news for Michael Richards….
Here’s a sequel Joel Siegel couldn’t have been looking forward to. The 57-year-old ”Good Morning America” movie critic announced on yesterday’s show that he’s undergoing cancer surgery for the third time. Three years ago, he fought colon cancer, and last year, he had a growth removed from his left lung. Tomorrow, he’ll have a growth removed from his right lung. But like Al Roker over on NBC’s ”Today,” the ABC entertainment editor has found a way to turn his health crisis into an instructive TV segment; today’s ”GMA” had Siegel leading a round table on how to discuss health issues with your family. Siegel has a 3-year-old son, Dylan….
A judge threw out CBS’ breach of contract claim against ”Survivor” contestant Stacey Stillman yesterday. CBS accused Stillman of violating the show’s confidentiality agreement with her allegation that the show was rigged against her, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ralph Dau ruled tentatively that it’s illegal to use a non-disclosure agreement to prevent someone from revealing wrongdoing. He’ll issue a final ruling in 90 days, but CBS already plans to appeal….
”Oprah” audiences like expert guest Phil ”Dr. Phil” McGraw so much that Oprah Winfrey‘s Harpo Productions is giving the behaviorist his own talk show. The syndicated series will launch in fall 2002….
Just days before ABC News is to air John Stossel‘s report ”Tampering with Nature,” the parents of several kids Stossel interviewed two months ago for the special are complaining that Stossel and ABC News misled them and are demanding that the interview segments be pulled from Friday’s broadcast. Stossel talked to the Los Angeles-area kids on Earth Day in April, asking them if their teachers had made them aware of any dissenting views on such issues as global warming, and whether they were ”scared” by their teachers’ dire environmental predictions. Though the parents did not complain to ABC until they were contacted recently by the Environmental Working Group, some said they felt deceived, that they had been told merely that their kids were going to be asked about the environment, that they hadn’t been told the contrarian Stossel would be the interviewer, that Stossel showed insensitivity to the kids, and that he asked them leading questions as if to imply that the kids had been brainwashed by environmental propaganda in school.
It’s not the first time EWG has taken Stossel to task. Last year, he reported that health claims for organic produce were overrated, citing a test that never in fact took place. Though Stossel apologized on air, ABC reran the offending segment. ABC has not yet decided whether to remove the kids’ footage from ”Tampering with Nature.” Normally, journalists don’t allow interview subjects to revoke their consent after the fact, but ABC may make an exception since the subjects are children. In a statement, the network said, ”While ABC News is confident that the interview was handled in a respectful and sensitive manner according to the highest journalistic standards, we take the concerns of these parents seriously and are reaching out to them to open a direct line of communication to resolve the issue.”
COVER TO COVER New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani has found a collaborator for the first book in his $3 million, two-book deal with Talk Miramax publishing. Rather than a memoir, the first book, due in January, will be a management how-to. Cowriting will be Money magazine editor-at-large Ken Kurson, whose financial advice website, Greenmagazine.com, folded in February. The book will be called ”Rudy’s Rules.” Talk Miramax editor Jonathan Burnham told the New York Times, ”The thrust of the book is how to run your business using the principles that Giuliani has used to run New York City.” Rule One: Suppress all dissent and ignore all criticism. Rule Two: Make your workplace as clean and customer-friendly as a Midwestern shopping mall. Guess he’ll save marital advice for the second book….
Another politico with a two-book deal is Senator James Jeffords of Vermont, who changed the balance of power in the Senate last month when he left the Republican party to become an independent. Book one of his deal with Simon & Schuster will be ”My Declaration of Independence,” an expansion of the statement he made at the time, to be published this fall. The second will be an explanation of the events leading up to his decision….
In Dominick Dunne‘s new book ”Justice: Crimes, Trials, and Punishments,” a collection of his true-crime reports for Vanity Fair over the last 20 years, he writes that he and his family thought briefly of revenge against John Sweeney, the boyfriend who killed the author’s daughter, ”Poltergeist” star Dominique Dunne and served only 2 1/2 years of a 6-year manslaughter sentence. But he told the New York Post that they did more than contemplate revenge; they actually contacted a Mafia hit man. ”My sons actively met with this Mafia guy to get him bumped off, but I knew they wouldn’t go through with it,” said Dunne, who finally called off the contract. ”And then after awhile, I said to the kids, ‘I don’t want to go on like this.”’
At least Dunne succeeded in preventing Sweeney from marrying another woman, whom he had not told of his violent past. Her father, reading Dunne’s account of how he’d hired detective and O.J. Simpson trial figure Anthony Pellicano to track Sweeney, realized his would-be son-in-law’s true identity. In another O.J. echo, Dunne believes Robert Blake is guilty of his wife’s murder. ”Either he killed her or he hired someone to kill her,” he said.
REEL DEALS Oscar has some new rules. From now on, not just anybody can call themselves a producer and be one of the throng taking home a Best Picture statuette; rather, the Academy will determine who actually produced a film, credits or no credits. Also, the Academy has created its first new awards category in nearly 20 years: Best Animated Feature. The award will be given out in years when there are at least eight eligible feature-length cartoons, defined as ”a motion picture of at least 70 minutes in running time where a significant number of the major characters in the film are animated, and animation figures in no less than 75 percent of the picture’s running time.” Does that mean ”The Mummy Returns” and ”Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” are eligible?…
Nicolas Cage is in talks to star in ”Constantine,” based on DC Comics-Vertigo occult-noir series ”Hellblazer.” It’s Cage’s second demon-fighting comic book hero role this week; he’s also up for the lead in a movie version of Marvel’s ”Ghost Rider.”…
Woody Allen‘s former producer, Jean Doumanian, has filed a countersuit against the filmmaker over disputed profits from the eight films they made together. Last month, Allen filed a suit saying she’d cheated him out of his share of profits he was due beyond his upfront salary, but Doumanian claims that he’s misrepresented the terms of their deal and that, in fact, he owes her money. Sounds like fodder for ”Crimes and Misdemeanors 2.”