NBC hopes Sarandon can help fight off an attack from the Outback
There's no immunity in network television, so NBC is hoping to survive the latest Survivor juggernaut from CBS with a few challenges of its own. The sharpest weapon: a pumped up Friends (airing opposite Survivor on Thursdays), which will include an extra 10 minutes per show for the month, a visit from Seinfeld's Jason Alexander (no, he's not playing George Costanza) and a guest appearance by Oscar winner Susan Sarandon as a lusty soap star who seduces Matt LeBlanc's character Joey Tribbiani.
In weighing NBC's offer, Sarandon had some tough lobbyists to appease. "My kids said, 'Don't even read the script. "Whatever it is, just say yes,' " says the actress, whose brood—Miles, 8, Jack, 11, and Eva, 15—are devoted fans of the show. (Mom and partner Tim Robbins let the kids watch only 90 minutes of television a week; Friends takes up a third of that.) As an added bonus, NBC cast Eva in a bit part as another soap actress. "She's been watching this show since she was 10, and here she was in [the Friends] living room," Sarandon says. "She got a number of laughs and did very, very well. And they gave her flowers."
Besides inspiring a mother's pride, the episode, which airs Feb. 15, had some real-life resonance for the star of 1999's Anywhere but Here. Soap opera buffs may recall that 30 years ago Sarandon, then 24, made her TV acting debut as Patrice Kahlman in the short-lived ABC show A World Apart. "I played the girl that everything happens to," recalls Sarandon. "I started out the year getting kicked out of high school, and I was pregnant by the end."
Calling the Friends shoot "a blast," the actress said she would be thrilled to come back—if only to visit her new best Friend. "Now that I kissed Joey," purrs Sarandon playfully, "he's my favorite."
The Dish on Hillary's Gifts
Won't First Ladies ever understand the awesome power of White House china? Teddy Roosevelt's wife, Edith, made enemies by ending the popular practice of selling used presidential plates (she ordered them smashed). Nancy Reagan accepted a gift of a 4,732-piece china set worth $209,000 while her husband's administration attempted to cut school lunch programs. Critics howled. And now comes Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose friends donated tableware to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—only to have her take the items with her once her husband's term was over.
It's all perfectly legal. But what exactly is the former First Lady and current U.S. senator getting for her troubles? The Royal China and Porcelain Companies says Hillary was registered for their Spode China Stafford Flower pattern, featuring a "scalloped shape with generous gold trim in a raised design" and 22 flowers in vivid colors. Britain's Sunday Times calls the Spode line "fine home china." But is it worth a tempest in a teacup? (For more on Clinton donations, see page 61.)
Naomi Judd found something distasteful at a Brentwood, Tenn., restaurant Jan. 24: a performance by stripper Chris Pearce, hired to entertain at a teenage girl's birthday party. "I was having a quiet meal at the dinner hour," says Judd, 55, "not dreaming I'd come face-to-face with a lewd act you'd only see in a strip joint." So, she says, she tapped the performer—clad only in something called booty pants—on the shoulder and asked him to stop. But Pearce, 30, says she tugged him and he fell to the ground. Chagrined ("I'm 5'11", 200 lbs."), he called the cops. No charges were filed. As for Judd, she's still getting over "the unexpected spectacle of a seminude man."
with Reba McEntire
Grammy-winning country star Reba McEntire is gunning for Broadway. The sparky singer will star through May as Annie Oakley in the musical Annie Get Your Gun. McEntire, 45, shot the breeze with Scoop hours before her stage debut.
No, we've been rehearsing since Jan. 2, and I've had the greatest director and teachers to help me.
Is doing theater much different from playing concerts?
I've never been in a play before, but it's very similar. In my tour last year, I did a lot of dialogue, clothes changes and acting.
Any special training?
I didn't have any training? because Annie and I are so similar. She's from humble beginnings, and so am I. We're both very determined, headstrong people. I totally identified with her.
Did you get any advice from any of the former Annies?
Cheryl Ladd was very helpful to me. She kept say-where you put the makeup get off the stage, don't mess around dealing with this."
Planning to paint the town red after the curtain call?
Lord no. I sowed my wild oats in college and while I was rodeoing. I need at least eight hours of sleep.
Did you sing show tunes as a kid?
No. I was in my mid-20s before I saw Dreamgirls—that was my first one.
Will your 10-year-old son Shelby come tonight?
Does he like your new gig?
You know how kids are: Any attention away from them they don't like. I say, "Shelby, it's kinda like if you had to cancel a hockey game to stay with me. That's how I am with my singing."
Leo's Bangs a Crime of Fashion
Talk about bad hair days. Last month 28 barbers in Afghanistan were jailed by the country's ruling Taliban militia for giving "foreign haircuts"—specifically, the floppy bangs and cropped nape of Leonardo DiCaprio's Titanic do. Islamic law mandates that men wear evenly cut hair clear of the forehead, which touches the ground during prayers. The threat of prison, however, won't put the coif out of fashion. "The harder they crack down," says a U.N. official, "the more people are going to get the haircut."
ON THE BLOCK
The home of a former Charlie's Angel should be nothing less than heavenly, right? So no wonder the Beverly Hills abode Kate Jackson recently sold for about $1.9 million has so many nice touches. The 4,300-sq.-ft. Rodeo Drive property, built in 1922, includes a sweeping front-hall staircase and a detached cabana and bath with an adjoining guest suite overlooking a private pool, spa and garden. Jackson, who played Sabrina on the Angels TV series from 1976 to 1979 (and who has appeared more recently in television movies, including Satan's School for Girls), is moving to a new home closer to the Pacific Ocean.