THE WEEK AHEAD: Friends Says Farewell
SATURDAY, MAY 1: Tony Soprano would have to do a lot of arm-twisting to get an honor from a college, but James Gandolfini didn't have to put the hurt on anyone to be inducted to Rutgers University's Hall of Distinguished Alumni. "In the entertainment world, James Gandolfini is probably the most recognizable Rutgers graduate," said Cal Maradonna, associate vice president of alumni relations. The actor (Class of 1983), who was a burly football player during his days at the New Jersey college, is one of 11 alumni – including Food Network host and chef Mario Batali – to be singled out this year. Meadow would be proud.
Also on May 1, Drew Barrymore will go behind the camera at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, D.C.'s hot-ticket event of the year where politicos, journalists and celebs meet and greet. The Charlie's Angels star will film the night's festivities for a documentary she's producing on America's voting process. Also hobnobbing with the political elite at the dinner will be George Clooney, Meg Ryan and Ben Affleck, among others. And just in case you're having Apprentice withdrawal, winner Bill Rancic will cover the evening for MSNBC while runner-up Kwame Jackson will report for FOX News Channel.
TUESDAY, MAY 4: Sheryl Crow is taking her act to the friendly skies. The singer will perform a 40-minute acoustic set aboard a Chicago-to-L.A. United Airlines flight for fans and lucky guests to celebrate the launch of Sony's new Connect Online Music Service partnership with United, which will offer more than a half-million songs available for download for 99 cents – and at 31,000 feet, no less. (Albums will cost $9.95 and frequent-flyer customers will also be able to earn "miles" for purchasing downloads.) After her cross-country jam session, Crow will perform at a party celebrating the launch of a new Sony digital Walkman. Next up for Lance Armstrong's main squeeze: She'll appear in the film De-Lovely, which hits theaters June 25.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 5: Who will be left standing – and singing – when viewers narrow down American Idol's finalists to four? One of the five remaining hopefuls – flower girl Jasmine Trias, divas La Toya London and Fantasia Barrino, pop princess Diana DeGarmo and soul man George Huff – will get the boot. The aspiring Idols also will have to prove their prowess at singing big-band music (Glenn Miller, anyone?) to make the cut. In other Idol news, former finalist Kimberley Locke will release her debut album, One Love, on Tuesday, May 4.
THURSDAY, MAY 6: Friends fans (and its cast) are already weeping about the loss of their favorite sitcom, and their Thursday night date with TV. The show's finale is sure to be a three-hankie affair. Will Ross follow Rachel to Paris? Will Monica and Chandler have a girl or a boy? Tune in. A one-hour retrospective special will precede the finale, and all six of the show's stars – Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer – will reunite on a special edition of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, to be taped on the Central Perk set.
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