THE WEEK AHEAD: A 'Friends' Farewell

01/16/2004 AT 01:00 PM EST

Which "Friend" will be the first to have a tearful breakdown? PEOPLE has the skinny on the show's final taping and other must-know events rocking the world in the coming week:

SEPARATION ANXIETY: Note to "Friends" producers: Have a team of psychologists on hand when Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Courteney Cox tape their final episode on Friday, Jan. 23. Aniston has already likened their emotional state to "delicate china," so there'll no doubt be plenty of nose-blowing and tears flowing when the cameras are turned off for the final time on the set of the NBC show. Just to make sure details of the finale aren't leaked out, a studio audience will only be allowed to watch part of the episode, and just a small crew will be welcome inside the studio. One thing's for sure: Brad Pitt will have a car revved up and ready to go for his wife so they can go home and start those baby-making plans.

THEY COULDA BEEN CONTENDERS: Ah, the "American Idol" premiere and the Iowa caucus -- they're two time-honored democratic traditions that will cosmically converge on Monday, Jan. 19. With the debut of FOX's third installment of "Idol," Simon Cowell will once again ramp up TV's nastiness quotient by berating a whole new crop of pop-star wannabes. Meanwhile, the Democrats are getting ready to rumble in the Iowa caucus, when the state's voters will weigh in on which of the nine candidates will be go mano-a-mano with President Bush. Howard Dean or Wesley Clark might make the grade -- but could they stand up to Simon's withering ridicule?

WALL OF WOE: Pop music innovator ... and murderer? Whether Phil Spector, 63, is saddled with the latter title will be determined starting Friday, Jan. 23 -- that's when the music producer returns to court for his preliminary hearing on murder charges. Spector, who's free on $1 million bail after being charged with the Feb. 3, 2002 fatal shooting of actress Lana Clarkson, 40, will head to Los Angeles County district court and face either a first- or second-degree murder rap, as well as charges of personally using a handgun in commission of a crime. According to a police report, Spector told a chauffeur that he had "killed somebody," but the "Wall of Sound" guru maintains his innocence.

WEDDED BLISS: Keep a pen handy: You'll definitely want to chronicle the pithy bon mots emerging from Jessica Simpson's mouth when the second season of "Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica" premieres on MTV on Wednesday, Jan. 21. What to expect from America's favorite bubblehead and her slightly exasperated husband? More lethal trips to the bathroom, more burping -- and maybe even a duet! And, as if one celebrity marriage won't be enough, MTV also plans to debut "'Til Death Do Us Part: Carmen & Dave," the new reality show chronicling the wedding planning of rocker Dave Navarro and former "Baywatch" babe Carmen Electra (who tied the knot on Nov. 22). Perhaps the music channel can soon officially change its name to NTV -- Nuptial Television.

AND FINALLY... It's countdown time for Hollywood's glam squad as they nip, tuck and prep their share of celebrities in time for the 61st Annual Golden Globe Awards, airing on NBC Sunday, Jan. 25, from the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Let the air kissing begin!

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