''Celebrity Boxing'' a ratings champ, so Fox plans second. Plus, news about Rene Russo, Andrea Thompson, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, ''O Brother,'' Whitney Houston, Neil Young, and others

By Gary Susman
March 19, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST
Danny Bonaduce: FOX

TUBE TALK Admit it, you watched Wednesday’s ”Celebrity Boxing.” Some 15.5 million people did, making it Fox’s highest-rated entertainment special since ”Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire” a couple years ago. Well, get ready for round two: The New York Times reports that Fox execs are already planning another fight card as early as May. Who’ll be battling? One name being floated is ”Multimillionaire” bride Darva Conger. Another possibility is Joey Buttafuoco, who apparently got into a battle of words with Wednesday victor Danny Bonaduce. Buttafuoco, present as an alternate figher, ”is out of his mind,” the ex-Partridge told TV’s ”Access Hollywood.” ”At the ring, he said something I really didn’t like, and I was a little angered at.” Bonaduce’s retort, according to the New York Post: ”You’re not so tough when your girlfriend isn’t shooting anyone, you bitch.” (This of course, was a reference to Amy Fisher, who was initially supposed to fight Tonya Harding, until her parole board said no, forcing producers to replace her with Paula Jones, who lost to Harding in a TKO in the night’s top card.) Whoever fights, they probably won’t decorate their backs with a temporary tattoo advertising GoldenPalace.com, as winners Bonaduce, Todd Bridges, and Harding did; Fox is reportedly considering legal action against the gambling website for making outside deals with the fighters.

Inspired by Rosie O’Donnell‘s coming-out interview on last night’s ”Primetime Thursday,” in which the comedian told ABC’s Diane Sawyer that she was going public about being a lesbian parent in order to fight for the rights of gay people to adopt kids in Florida, Rene Russo let ABC in on a related revelation of her own. Promoting her new movie ”Showtime” (in which she stars opposite Eddie Murphy and Robert De Niro), she told ”GMA”’s Charlie Gibson yesterday that her single mom raised her with the help of lesbian friends. ”I want to say thank you to [O’Donnell],” said a teary-eyed Russo. ”Rosie, my dad left, and it was women in my life that were gay that raised me and that helped me and nurtured me.” Russo said her father abandoned the family when the actress was 2, forcing her mother to take two jobs while ”loving, nurturing” lesbian friends stayed home to take care of the family….

Not that there was any danger of it being cancelled, but NBC has decided to renew ”” for three more seasons. The network will pony up some $300 million, or about $4 million per episode, to keep the four-year-old sitcom on the air through 2005. That’s $3 million an episode more than NBC is paying now, but since the show is produced in-house, the network should make it all back and more in syndication….

After just seven months on the job, Andrea Thompson is signing off as an anchor for CNN’s ”Headline News.” ”I have enjoyed anchoring at ‘Headline News’ but have decided that it is time for me to make a change in my daily professional life,” the former ”NYPD Blue” star said in a statement. This was widely interpreted to mean that the 42-year-old single mom wants to spend more time at home with her 9-year-old son, Alec. Thompson’s hiring was widely criticized as emphasizing sex appeal over journalism experience (after quitting her four-year role on the ABC drama, Thompson spent one year as a TV newscaster in Albuquerque, N.M., before CNN hired her), but she did boost her time slot’s ratings 15 percent. For the time being, her 6 to 10 p.m. slot will be filled by Sophia Choi. Of course, in the long term, Ted Koppel may be available.