Barely a month after National Turn-Off Week passed virtually unnoticed, America is caught up in the traditional hysteria of the end-of-season "sweeps period". Most common among the ratings boosters is the Guest Star Stunt: within the space of of one hour on Thursday, Billy Crystal and Robin Williams stopped by at Friends' Central Park coffee shop, and Brooke Shields's laugh-free Suddenly Susan played host to Donald Trump and John McEnroe. Oddly, this year's sweeps also feature the dated gimmick of 3- D. Viewers who've picked up specially tinted "glasses" at Wendy's burger joints can thrill to the experience of various ABC sitcom stars hurtling towards them (for the rest of us, the picture just goes fuzzy), and NBC's 3-D 3rd Rock From the Sun, airing tonight, is the second most hyped event this season (after you-know-who's noisy closet exit). With the right visual equipment (provided this time by a pizza chain), the hour-long 3rd Rock ... promises good, clean, hallucinogenic family fun. The most successful ploy of all, though, may owe much to the Baudrillardian idea of image/reality confusion, as demonstrated by - there's no getting away from her, is there? - Ellen/Ellen. Hollywood's couple of the moment have evidently latched on. Tea Leoni, who plays a journalist on the sitcom The Naked Truth, married David Duchovny on Tuesday. In this week's instalment of Leoni's show, Duchovny (who doesn't actually appear) sues her paper over a story about "the skinny, blond sitcom bimbo he's hot and heavy with".
Mike Myers, the Wayne's World star who gave us "Schwing!" and "Not", is again doing his bit for pop vocabulary with his new film, Austin Powers. A spoof of Bond films and the swinging Sixties, the movie throws around ridiculous catchphrases like "shaggadelic", "smashing bird", and "Saucy! Baby!" Myers co-stars with Elizabeth Hurley; in US interviews, she has been helpfully translating the film's uniquely British terminology (eg "shag") and sharing revealing tit-bits like, "The English like to enjoy themselves - being really silly and naughty" - a proclivity famously exemplified by Hugh Grant.
People magazine has just unveiled its 50 Most Beautiful People in the World (the Spice Girls, alarmingly, make up one-tenth of this year's pantheon), and a refreshing antidote to its outpouring of adoration can be found on the E! website in the form of "The Nastiest People in Hollywood". Among the honorees are: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, Barbra Streisand, and, most unpleasant of all, director James Cameron, who is apparently the real Terminator.