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Tim McCarver, Ellen DeGeneres, ...
Credit: Buck and McCarver: FOX; Ellen Degeneres: Monty Brinton

CRYING FOUL Sunday night, Ellen DeGeneres told Emmy viewers they were wise to choose the CBS awards telecast over the deciding game of the World Series because ”we’re going to let you know what is going on with the game. Don’t think they’re going to break in and let you know who just won for best supporting actress.” In fact, Fox did announce the Emmy winners throughout the game, in a ticker on the bottom of the screen. CBS execs and Emmy organizers were livid, not just because the tactic kept baseball viewers from having to click away from the game to learn the Emmy winners, but because it also revealed the winners to the audience on the West Coast, where the game was live but the Emmys were on tape delay. ”It’s very similar to announcing the results of an election before the polls have closed,” said Bryce Zabel, chairman of the Emmy-granting Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. ”It was a pretty no-class thing to do,” said CBS spokesman Gil Schwartz. ”To attempt to play the role of national party-pooper is sort of disappointing.” A Fox spokesman responded in a statement, ”We provided that information as a service to our viewers. We didn’t intend to diminish anyone’s enjoyment of the Emmys for West Coast viewers.”

As it turned out, early Nielsen estimates say the World Series finale averaged 39.1 million viewers, the largest audience for any baseball game since the 1991 World Series, for any non-football broadcast in Fox history, and for any network show since last spring’s Oscars. In contrast, the Emmys drew an average of 17.1 million viewers. That’s the lowest number for an Emmy telecast in 11 years but still the highest-rated Sunday night offering for CBS since the Super Bowl in January. To be fair, this was the first Sunday of November sweeps month, and the Emmys also faced competition from the first part of NBC’s miniseries ”Uprising” (13 million) and ABC’s ”Toy Story 2” (14.8 million). All together, 68.3 percent of the nation’s households were glued to the tube Sunday night, the highest percentage for evening programming since Election Night 2000 and the 1994 Winter Olympics.

DANGEROUS Michael Jackson, who was wearing surgical masks long before they became New York fashion staples, told London’s News of the World, ”I don’t know if I should say this, but I’m very sick. They’re going to test me and the children for anthrax. We’re all very, very sick right now…. My chest burns very, very much. It’s hard to breathe. And when I swallow, it stings.” (In a typically Jacksonian touch, the interview was conducted by telekinetic spoon-bender Uri Geller.) Nonetheless, Jackson will expose himself to New York fans tomorrow at his first ever in-store appearance, promoting his new ”Invincible” CD at the Virgin Megastore in Times Square. The event will be webcast live on on Wednesday starting at 3 p.m. ET (Jackson won’t show up, however, until 4), for all those who can’t attend — or who don’t wanna be catchin’ something.

SELF PITT-Y Are you sick of Brad Pitt? He is. ”I’m completely bored with myself in films,” the star of the upcoming ”Spy Game” and ”Ocean’s 11” says in the latest issue of Vanity Fair magazine. ”I find myself looking forward to a family…. Anything that’s going to take the focus off myself, I welcome.” He’s certainly tired of reading about his marriage to Jennifer Aniston, which he jokingly calls ”the merger.” ”There was an opening in the Hollywood-couple slot, and unfortunately we’ve fallen into it, which I don’t like very much. It doesn’t leave us room to be human, to make our mistakes and have our struggles, because that will just be another story.” For his part, Pitt spent a year and a half in therapy (”I crashed and burned, so I wanted to understand how I operate”) and tries to act like a ”normal guy.” But as a celebrity, he says, ”We are treated as special. We get away with things that other people can’t. And you start to believe the lie that you are special, that you’re better than other people. You start demanding that kind of treatment. Most of the time I fight it … but at times I succumb to it.” He jokes that he even thought about dropping out of sight altogether (or, as he puts it, ”pulling a Mariah Carey”). Still, says the 35-year-old, he probably won’t have to deal with overwhelming fame for much longer. ”I figure I’ve got about five strong years, seven tops. I am still at a viable age, but I’m hitting the cusp.”

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