The 10 hottest topics of the week

By Jim Mullen
Updated March 12, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

Jim Mullen’s Hot Sheet for the week of Mar. 12, 2004

1 THE SOPRANOS The saga of the country’s best-loved criminals begins its latest season. That’s right, spring training has started.

2 GOD Mel Gibson gives the Almighty credit for The Passion of the Christ. The Creator wants to work with Jack Nicholson next, but they can’t agree on who should get top billing.

3 HIDALGO A cowboy enters a high-stakes race across the desert on his horse, Hidalgo. Originally called Seabiscuit of Arabia.

4 LOTR: THE RETURN OF THE KING The blockbuster film dominated the Oscars with 11 wins. Proving that the Ring of Power was never destroyed, but grabbed by Peter Jackson.

5 ROSIE O’DONNELL She married her girlfriend in San Francisco. Doesn’t she know marriage is a sacred union between Britney Spears and any nearby man?

6 STEPHEN KING’S KINGDOM HOSPITAL Feeling undead? Walking through walls? Seeing frightening apparitions? Sorry, your HMO won’t cover that without preapproval.

7 MICHAEL JACKSON Police determined that a masked man in a Colorado Wal-Mart was not a robber but the King of Pop. He was there filling out a job application.

8 SPONGE MONKEYS That’s what the bug-eyed creatures screeching the praises of grilled subs in the Quiznos commercial are called. It’s like having Gollum endorse your restaurant.

9 HOWARD STERN The country’s most popular DJ has been suspended from six Clear Channel stations for being vulgar and offensive. They wanted someone who was just vulgar.

10 ”VOTING IS FOR OLD PEOPLE” Urban Outfitters is catching flak for selling a T-shirt with this satirical message on it. Mostly from retailers who didn’t think of it first.