WEEK IN REVIEW: Why Julia's So Happy
'FRIENDS' END?: Despite previous word from NBC that this coming season, its ninth, would likely be the last for TV's top-rated show, "Friends," NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker on Tuesday left open the possibility that the sitcom might remain on the air beyond next year, reported Reuters. The show's producers, however, restated their position that the 2002-03 season will be the show's last. "We're certainly approaching this as if this is the last season and sort of planning our stories accordingly," producer Kevin Bright said during this week's NBC press tour. "We don't want to overstay our welcome," chimed in Marta Kauffman, one of the show's co-creators.
DOWNEY UPPER: Because he has been substance-free for the past 14 months, drug charges against Robert Downey Jr. have been dismissed by Riverside County (Calif.) Superior Court Judge Randall D. White, who also ended the actor's probation, reported the Associated Press. Downey, 37, had been sentenced a year ago to 12 months in a live-in rehabilitation center and three years' probation after pleading no contest to cocaine possession and being under the influence following his November 2000 arrest in a Palm Springs hotel room.
RAY'S DAYS: "Everybody Loves Raymond" star and Emmy nominee Ray Romano is now poised to sweep across the big screen in his live-action feature film debut, said the Hollywood Reporter. Romano, 44, who provided the voice of Manfred, the curmudgeonly woolly mammoth in this year's computer-animated hit "Ice Age," will star in an action-comedy called "Action Abramowitz," as a timid accountant who gets a conk on the head that causes him to fantasize being his favorite action hero. The movie is scheduled for production next spring, while Romano is on hiatus from his hit CBS sitcom.
SINGLE SKIRMISH: Work continues in the struggle to release Michael Jackson's all-star charity single aimed at aiding victims of Sept. 11, reported Reuters. The song, "What More Can I Give," recorded shortly after the attacks on America, features the voices of Jackson, Ricky Martin, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and others, yet has not been released by Sony Music Entertainment. As to why, the Los Angeles Times revealed that McDonald's, which was to have made the song available at its burger outlets, backed out of the project once its customers complained about Jackson's personal reputation.