THE WEEK AHEAD: 'Sopranos' Sing Again

03/05/2004 at 10:15 AM EST

Can a Mob marriage be saved? PEOPLE gets prepared for a marital meltdown, and analyzes other big events in the coming week:

WHACKY TIMES: Will Tony and Carmela reunite? Will "The Sopranos" make it through an hourlong episode without someone getting whacked? These are the burning questions as the HBO series returns for its fifth season on Sunday. "It's so well-timed with 'Sex and the City' leaving the air. We're helping people out of mourning," Edie Falco joked to PEOPLE recently, while fans have been waiting anxiously after a 15-month absence. What to expect: new characters like Steve Buscemi, who plays Tony's newly sprung-from-the-slammer cousin, and more screen time for Tony's sister Janice (Aida Turturro) and Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese).

BOY WONDER: Justin Timberlake is ready for his close-up. On Monday, March 8, the pop star begins production on his first movie, the thriller "Edison," in Vancouver. Timberlake, 23, plays a journalist who uncovers a ring of police corruption and gets to costar with Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman. Not bad for a rookie. And word is that Timberlake is taking his craft seriously. He got a thumb's up from Associated Press reporter Bob Porterfield, who helped the 'N Syncer research his reporter role. "I thought he was sharp," Porterfield told AP.

PLAY TIME: The play's the thing for Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. The Oscar-winning duo (he's fresh from his Best Supporting Actor win for "Mystic River," she scored 1995 Best Actress honors for "Dead Man Walking") are treading the boards Off-Broadway this week. On Monday, March 8 Sarandon will appear in a one-night-only benefit performance of Neil La Bute's "Autobahn," a series of one-act plays all set within a car. Meanwhile, on Sunday, March 14, Robbins's political satire "Embedded" makes its Off-Broadway debut at New York City's Joseph Papp Public Theater. Though Robbins won't appear in "Embedded," he's the writer-director in this play about journalists stationed in Iraq.

ROAD TRIP: Motorists be warned: Starting next week, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie are making their way across America in a Winnebago, and it may not be pretty. "We have to take driving lessons," Nicole Richie told PEOPLE recently about their cross-country jaunt, "because between her and I, we're definitely going to crash the thing." The twosome is embarking on the "Thelma & Louise"-style road trip for the second season of their FOX show "The Simple Life."

AND FINALLY...: Pete Rose may never get into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but another sport is happy to have him: The disgraced baseball great will be the "first-ever special celebrity inductee" into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame on Saturday, March 13. Why wrestling? Because he's appeared in several WrestleMania events over the years (and besides, it's not a bad publicity stunt). The following night, he'll attend the pay-per-view WrestleMania XX event at Madison Square Garden -- but just as a spectator, not to kick butt.

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