WEEK IN REVIEW: Keanu's Latest Kick

03/08/2002 12:00PM

KEANU KICKS: Currently completing two sequels to his 1999 hit "The Matrix," Keanu Reeves, 37, is looking to bring back the '70s counterculture hero of the "Billy Jack" movies, Variety reported. In the original, actor Tom Laughlin starred as Billy, a half-Native American ex-Green Beret karate expert who saved wild horses from being slaughtered for dog food and runaway teens from troubled pasts. Reeves is said to be discussing the resurrection of Billy Jack with Danny DeVito's production company, Jersey Films, with an eye toward shopping the project at various studios. Laughlin, still kicking at age 70, is expected to play a crucial role in the production, says Variety.

CROWE'S FEAT: Despite speculation to the contrary, Russell Crowe, 37, apparently has not hurt his shot at a second Oscar with his recent shenanigans after the British Film Academy Awards. According to a random survey of Oscar voters conducted by PEOPLE.com, Academy members were not swayed by the incident, in which the "Beautiful Mind" star cursed out and threatened a BBC producer for having edited out a poem Crowe delivered during his acceptance speech. (The edit was made for time.) Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a New York-based Oscar voter said Crowe's behavior "has nothing to do with his performance" and "hasn't influenced my decision one iota."

CELINE SINGS: Hollywood's new Kodak Theater served as the backdrop last weekend for Celine Dion's first performance as a headliner since she temporarily retired two years ago to start a family. Reuters reported that the pop diva, 33, performed about a dozen numbers along with guests Destiny's Child and Brian McKnight. "I'm a little bit nervous, right?" she said upon first facing the crowd. "I've got some butterflies going on. But I'm so excited to be back onstage." As the show went on, she made reference to her son, Rene-Charles Angelil, whose first birthday was Jan. 25. "I've got a new boss, a young boss," she said, joking that he's got her hopping at all hours. "No matter how hard I work, he still s---s on me every chance he gets."

ROSIE OUTLOOK: Publicly admitting her sexuality has been a long process for Rosie O'Donnell, though close friends say the talk-show host confided in them early on, PEOPLE reports in its latest cover story. "We were in our late teens when she told me," recalls O'Donnell's lifelong best friend, Jackie Ellard, 39, to whom O'Donnell made the admission in 1980. As for all the recent newsbreaks about O'Donnell's sexual orientation affecting the way the public views the entertainer, an informal poll conducted on PEOPLE.com showed that 85 percent of the 15,000 respondents said they were "not surprised" by the news that O'Donnell is gay. 'ELLIE' WATCH: The two-week-old NBC sitcom "Watching Ellie," starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, suffered a dip in viewership in its second outing Tuesday but still showed signs of life. "Ellie," in which the former "Seinfeld" costar plays a plucky but down-on-her-luck club singer, averaged 12 million viewers this week, versus the nearly 17 million who watched the Feb. 26 premiere, reported the New York Post, which called such a drop typical for most shows. What is surprising, the Post noted, is that "Ellie" built on its lead-in by a "Frasier" rerun by an astounding 46 percent in the advertiser-coveted demographic of adults aged 18 to 49. "Ellie" beat its rivals on other networks for the time slot in the 18 to 49 demographic, and the show bettered its "Frasier" lead-in by about 2.5 million viewers overall.
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