Who can think ahead to that other reality show on CBS — Survivor: Thailand — when Big Brother 3 is currently bringing down the Nielsen roof? Plenty of people, apparently. Fan websites are already buzzing about a cagey Survivor promo that talks about ”new rules, new choices” in the fifth installment and features host Jeff Probst ordering the ”ladies on the left, men on the right.” Hmmm, is a tropical battle of the sexes planned for Thailand? CBS, as usual, won’t confirm or deny anything (”Everything will be explained when the show debuts Sept. 19,” drones a rep), but exec producer Mark Burnett guarantees ”a very, very different first act than you’ve ever seen before.” He adds, ”What would be the worst thing is if I didn’t change things around. Then the [castaways] would start to predict things and become comfortable psychologically because they’ve seen the show.” Let’s just hope there won’t be an immunity challenge to determine who can get in and out of the bathroom the quickest, or the ladies are doomed.
Hitting the Slots
Oh, those network execs — won’t they ever play nice? NBC plans to draw first blood in the showdown between sexy forensics experts by airing a new, 90-minute episode of the Jill Hennessy drama Crossing Jordan at 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 23, opposite the series premiere of CSI: Miami at 10 p.m. But the Eye isn’t taking that time-slot attack lying down; it’ll give Miami two back-to-back new episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond as the lead-in and delay the 9:30 p.m. premiere of its new Jami Gertz comedy, Still Standing, to the following Monday. ”Without fail, it happens every year,” says one CBS insider of the last-minute changes. ”You’re gonna do what’s in your best interest.” Not that CBS feels blind-sided by the extended Jordan. ”Nothing NBC does is surprising,” says the exec. ”We won’t let them get the jump. Bring it on!”
AND SO ON… More model behavior in prime time this fall: Heidi Klum will kid around with the folks on CBS’ Yes, Dear in October…. Turns out stars love reality TV too. Sources say George Clooney was recently given a secret, behind-the-scenes tour of the Big Brother 3 house while on business at the show’s Studio City, Calif., lot…. Despite comments made by Martin Sheen on The Tonight Show that Rob Lowe is having ”second thoughts” about leaving The West Wing, insiders insist producers are not willing to reopen negotiations…. Obviously undeterred by the fact that 13 other Princess Diana projects failed to make it off the drawing board, obscure German producer Christian Seidel pressed ahead and got CBS to air The Biographer: The Secret Life of Princess Di on Sept. 1. The hook? Well, Seidel says it’s virtually unknown that writer Andrew Morton never met or interviewed the princess in person before writing Diana: Her True Story in 1992 (he relied on audiotapes supplied by Diana, some of which will be re-created for Biographer). ”It’s been tough going,” says Seidel about the four-year development process of the telefilm, which stars Paul McGann as Morton and Faye Dunaway as a gossip columnist. ”Everybody thought we were doing an exploitative movie about Princess Di.” Nooo, really?