For Friends and its sitcom elders, there's nothing like a happy birth day
The countdown is on. Come May 16, on Friends' season finale, Rachel Green will have her baby—and NBC will have a ratings bonanza. (It's a girl, and Rachel thinks that she looks like Ross.) As Jennifer Aniston prepares to join prime time's maternity ward pantheon, Scoop looks back at the TV moms who paved the way.
In 1953, the year Lucille Ball had Little Ricky, even the word "pregnant" was censored. "It sounds archaic now," says I Love Lucy writer Madelyn Pugh Davis, 81, "but they didn't show pregnant women on TV. They would put them behind a chair or have them wear a big coat." There was no delivery-room scene either, but some 44 million Lucy lovers tuned in for the blessed event, a ratings record at the time. (Friends averages 23.9 million viewers.) In 1976 All in the Family celebrated a TV first, says producer Norman Lear, by sending Gloria and Meathead to Lamaze classes. In 1981 Mork & Mindy hatched an alien egg containing a 50-something, 225-lb. Jonathan Winters. "They put me in children's clothes," says Winters, now 76. "It was so bizarre."
Perhaps most memorable was Candice Bergen's gritty delivery on Murphy Brown in 1992. "All hell broke loose," says creator Diane English, referring to Dan Quayle slamming the show's single motherhood as immoral. Times change. When Cynthia Nixon's Miranda became a single mom on Sex and the City last season, only the baby's toys rattled. Aniston's delivery should also be low on controversy though high on emotion. "Jennifer cried real tears" while filming, says producer Marta Kauffman. "They weren't make-believe."
Rolling Right Along
Descending from the sky in a tongue-logo-emblazoned blimp, the Rolling Stones landed in New York City's Van Cortlandt Park on May 7 to announce their first tour since 1999. "Either we stay at home and become pillars of the community or we go out on tour," said front man Mick Jagger, 58. "We couldn't find any communities that still needed pillars."
The tour, which kicks off Sept. 5 in Boston, isn't the only proof the Stones still think young. A forthcoming book, Baby You Can Drive My Car, by Jagger's ex-chauffeur, Keith Badgery, says the rocker, no doubt trying to better understanding between people of all ages, has bridged the generation gap with model Sophie Dahl, 24, and 30ish British starlet Mariella Frostrup. "Mick without a girl," Badgery writes, "is like bacon without eggs."
D.C.'s Pols and Dolls
Defense Secretary by day, babe magnet by night? Such was the life of Donald Rumsfeld, 70, on May 4, when actresses Chloe Sevigny and Shannen Doherty surrounded him at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner. "The coolest person I met tonight," said Doherty, while Sevigny actually held Rumsfeld's hand. Meanwhile, Gen. Tommy Franks had his eyes set on Raquel Welch—and not for the traditional reasons. "Unbeknownst to me I had stood at his bedside some 30 years ago in Saigon when he was seriously wounded, still a lieutenant," said Welch, who toured Vietnam for the U.S.O. "He had never forgotten it." Doing a little lobbying: pilot Harrison Ford, reminding Florida Rep. Mark Foley that small planes have been banned at D.C.'s Reagan National Airport since Sept. 11. "I told him we were working on it," says Foley.
Shortly, our armed services in Afghanistan will receive a shipment of crucial provisions: Thin Mints, Tagalongs and Samoas—and lots of 'em. Twelve thousand boxes of Girl Scout cookies, compliments of Bruce Willis, who purchased the $3-a-box treats from his daughter Tallulah, 8, a proud Brownie in Hailey, Idaho. "I would think this is the largest order from one child ever," says her troop leader Sue Dumke.
The Scouts had to reopen their cookie factory (usually open only two months a year) to accommodate the order. The troop will net $5,000 from the sale; Tallulah will receive a merit badge for her Brownie vest as a reward; her dad will get "a thank-you card with pictures and little notes" from the troop, says Dumke.
Nic & Sophia & Polish Pasta
It's not the label on the jar that counts but what's in the sauce. So when Nicolas Cage, 38, became the first inductee into the Italian American Hall of Fame on May 2, no one seemed concerned that he had long ago dropped his given surname, Coppola (he's the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola), for the more generic Cage. "That's his prerogative," says fellow actor Joe Mantegna, who attended the L.A. dinner. Besides, Cage says, his heritage is very important to him. "Italian Americans are very passionate," he says. "That quality can be very helpful in performances when you call on it."
Italian national treasure Sophia Loren might agree. Since March the actress, 67, has been plugging pasta from...Poland? As the spokeswoman for Polish-made Malma pasta, Loren stars in a series of commercials—airing only in Poland—in which she praises in Polish "Chopin's music and Malma pasta" as the country's finest attributes. Isn't the cross-cultural endorsement a bit odd? Maybe, but a Malma rep says, "Sophia is an ambassador of the Neapolitan culture."
For Cheech, a New High
Don't bogart that mural, my friend. Cheech Marin, farmer eloper comic turned Nash Bridges sidekick, is lending 52 paintings from his collection of Chicano art to an exhibit he helped create that will visit 15 cities over the next five years. To hear him talk, you'd think it was illegal. "I relate to art on an emotional level," says Marin, 55, a third-generation Mexican American. "It scares me. It thrills me. I got to have it." The 72-piece show arrived in Washington, D.C., May 2 at the Smithsonian Museum, where Marin joked about his grassy past before leading a serious discussion. The works "really resonated with me—the past, the iconography, the subject matter," he says. Thoughts on taking his passion public? "We're at the Smithsonian, Enough said."
With Earvin 'Magic' Johnson
Earvin "Magic" Johnson, mayor of Los Angeles? Hey, it could happen: The former NBA All-Star has said he's considering running (the next election is in 2005). A successful businessman—he has a stake in 33 Starbucks, several movie theaters and a health-club franchise, 24 Hour Fitness—Johnson went one-on-one with Scoop about his political ambitions.
Is this for real?
People want me to run. I'm going to take my time to think about it.
Could this lead to Magic for President?
(Laughs) No, we won't go that far. Being mayor will be fine.
How would you be different from a typical politician?
I'm not a politician. I'm a businessman. A mayor's job is to manage the city; manage the people. I feel like I'm an excellent manager.
Your top priorities?
Creating more jobs. And then there's education. Our system is really bad. Our teachers are underpaid.
Any political role models?
Clinton. I think he was the President of the people. George Bush has been tough, and I would be a tough mayor. I would emulate [former New York Mayor Rudy] Giuliani.
A politician's life is an open book. Worried?
People aren't really concerned with that at the end of the day. How much money are they taking home, and how much money is the government taking out of their checks? That's their concern.
You were diagnosed HIV-positive in 1991. Are you physically up for a race?
One thing about me is that I have unbelievable stamina, especially at the age of 42. This morning I worked out for about an hour and a half. Then I went and played ball for another two hours.
Would there be open access? Could we film you 24 hours, like the Osbournes on MTV?
[My wife] Cookie would strangle me. I think we better pass on that. No way.
ON THE BLOCK
Dr. Mark Greene may be leaving NBC's ER, but Anthony Edwards, the actor who plays him, continues to do good deeds. He's auctioning the silver 1996 Airstream trailer he used on the show's Burbank, Calif., lot and donating the proceeds to the charity Cure Autism Now. Edwards paid $70,000 for the deluxe unit, which is equipped with a kitchen, office, bathroom, wrap-around sofa and television.
The actor, 39, who sits on the board of the Autism foundation, will also go to lunch with the winning bidder. The auction, on eBay until May 16th, has a starting price of $50,000.