Entertainment Today: Showbiz news

By United Press International   |   June 25, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Ratings are sagging for the World Wrestling Entertainment's two premiere primetime TV shows -- and analysts are blaming a mass defection by teenage boys for the trend.

According to a report in Daily Variety, for the first 5 1/2 months of 2002, "Smackdown" on UPN has lost 35 percent of its 12-to-17-year-old males compared with the same period in 2001. At the same time, ratings for total households have fallen by 10 percent.

TNN's "Raw Is War" has lost 19 percent of its 12-17 males and 6 percent of its households.

Garnett Losak -- vice president and director of programming for the Los Angeles-based consulting firm Petry Media -- told Variety part of the problem is a lack of headliners on the wrestling circuit, exemplified by The Rock's departure from the ring for starring roles in "The Mummy Returns" and "The Scorpion King."

"With the Rock making like Arnold Schwarzenegger ... the WWE doesn't have the big-draw, marquee wrestler to keep the kids enthralled," said Losak.

Another wrestling star, Stonecold Steve Austin, quit the ring over a business dispute with the WWE, and then got into legal trouble in San Antonio for allegedly beating up his wife Debra, who's also his manager.

David Carter of the Los Angeles-based Sports Business Group said the WWE is also up against a shrinking attention span among teenage boys.

"You've got extreme sports like the X Games drawing young men, reality shows like 'American Idol' and 'Dog Eat Dog' cropping up all over the place and a whole array of videogames," said Carter.

Bill Carroll, vice president of the media-buying firm Katz Television, said UPN is hurting at least in part from tougher competition on Thursday, in the form of "Survivor" and "CSI" on CBS.


After Sarah Jessica Parker announced in March that she is pregnant, producers of her Emmy-winning comedy "Sex and the City" made a decision not to incorporate the pregnancy into the storyline for the show's upcoming fifth season.

Instead of a baby, Parker's character -- sex advice columnist Carrie Bradshaw -- is getting a book deal.

Parker plans to take five months off after production is completed in the new season, scheduled to begin airing in July.

"Relaxing is foreign to me," she told TV Guide. "But I'll have a baby. And my time will be taken up with something far more important than me."

Executive producer Michael Patrick King said it just wouldn't do to let Parker's character join the ranks of motherhood.

"Carrie is the eternal single girl," said King. "Sarah Jessica is having a baby; Carrie Bradshaw is having a cocktail."


Halle Berry won the best actress Oscar for it, but Oscar-nominee Angela Bassett told Newsweek she turned down the starring role in "Monster's Ball" because of her high standards.

"I wasn't going to be a prostitute on film," said Bassett. "I couldn't do that because it's such a stereotype about black women and sexuality."

Bassett -- nominated for best actress for "What's Love Got to Do With It?" (1993) -- took pains to say that she isn't knocking Berry for taking the role of a black waitress who falls in love with the white man who executed her husband. She just didn't think the graphic sexuality was for her.

"I mean, Meryl Streep won Oscars without all that," she said.


When you ask Franka Potente, Matt Damon's co-star in "The Bourne Identity," what it was like to work with Damon, or what it was like to kiss him -- first, she jokes: "I want to hear what he says about me!"

Then she acknowledges that was "really, really fun" to work with Damon.

"What sometimes happens is in the beginning you think: 'Oh, that person is so cool. We're going to have so much fun,'" said Potente. "But after two or three stressful weeks, suddenly, it drops. You're like, 'What happened?' And the person isn't available any more or stressed out or turning out to be a diva. Didn't happen with (Damon). He really (stayed) that kind, relaxed person.

So, how about the kissing?

"It was fun," said Potente, "and at the end of the day, I said: 'Hey, thanks, man. That was a fun day.' Because, see the problem, you're doing something again with somebody you don't know and there's a lot of people around and you never know. Even if you feel: 'Well, let's relax. We know each other.' You haven't been intimate and you don't mean to, but you have to. It was a little awkward. We had a little shot of Jaegermeister, got a little more relaxed."

Potente said it's like that with nude scenes too.

"You start out being nervous and it's like a closed set and by the end of the day you're just walking around like, 'La, la, la!'"

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