The Fix

New York Times culture man says he's stupider, Fallon leaves "SNL," and Paula Abdul sues over a botched manicure.

By Salon Staff

Published May 19, 2004 6:56PM (EDT)

Afternoon Briefing:

New York Times staffer quote of the day: Jonathan Landman, who has been appointed culture editor at the N.Y. Times, presumably because he was one of the few to warn higher-ups about Jayson Blair, concedes that he's no culture vulture. After executive editor Bill Keller announced his appointment Landman said, "I guess I'm slightly stupider about culture than I was about everything else I've started over the years." Thanks for the warning. (N.Y. Observer)

Sir Richard tries to top The Donald: Virgin founder Richard Branson is finalizing plans for his version of "The Apprentice" (tentatively named "The Billionaire: Branson's Quest for the Best") and they include taking would-be business moguls on white-water rafting and parachuting trips to weed out the wussies. The first of the final 16 candidates will be chosen in Times Square, in New York, where Sir Rick will show just how nuts he is by taking a jump off the top floor of his Virgin Megastore wearing a jet pack. His rationale: "By taking these people white-water rafting, kite jumping or maybe throwing themselves out of a plane at 10,000 feet, I'll be able to see how they cope with the adventure side as well as the intellectual side of our global voyage." He'll also work on building trust rather than breaking it down, says the tycoon, "Trump's whole approach is 'Don't trust your best friend,' I don't believe that's correct." (Ananova)

Keep it away from the kids! A New Jersey ice cream company has created two new flavors in honor of the wild and crazy Osbournes: "Ozzy's Carnivorous Carrot Cake" (cinnamon ice cream with carrot cake soaked in hazelnut liqueur) and "Death by Sharon" (dark chocolate with fudge and brownie bits soaked in Godiva liqueur.) (BBC Radio 1)

-- Karen Croft

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Morning Briefing:
The Next Adam Sandler?:After six years with "SNL," Jimmy Fallon announced Saturday that he was leaving the show to pursue a movie career. Fans of Fallon may miss characters like Nick Burns, the unfriendly computer tech guy, and Jarrett, the pot-smoking host of the Jarrett's Room webcast, as well as Fallon's excellent impersonations of stars such as Tom Cruise, Dave Matthews and Access Hollywood's Pat O'Brien. But most of all, they'll miss Fallon's self-amused, rarely straight-faced anchorman on "Weekend Update" with Tina Fey. Wait a minute: If Ms. Fey can write and appear in a movie like "Mean Girls" while still manning the anchor desk on "Update," why can't Fallon? Perhaps his role in the upcoming film "Taxi" proved to be too time-consuming -- or maybe Fallon just wants to be fresh for the upcoming 2004 MTV Movie Awards, where he will appear as a presenter. (E!Online)

Just Oustanding!: "Melrose Place" and "Passions" were just flashes in the pan compared to network stalwarts like "General Hospital," "As The World Turns" and "Guiding Light," all of which were nominated for the category outstanding drama series in the 2004 Daytime Emmys. The complete list of nominees doesn't hold any surprises --- except, perhaps, that people are still watching soap operas. (New York Post)

Hey, where's the beef? And where's the beef eater?: One of the stars of the upcoming New Line Cinema comedy "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" has "come out" as a committed vegetarian. Kal Penn -- who plays carnivore Kumar in this buddy movie about a quest to satisfy an unreasonable craving for dead cow -- refused to eat White Castle beef for the camera, insisting instead that his burgers be made of veggies. In addition, Penn -- who has agreed to be inducted into something called the White Castle Hall of Fame -- has a brother who works full-time for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The 26-year-old, New Jersey-born Penn, whose real name is Kaplen Modi, said he plans to present White Castle execs in Ohio with a PETA-produced position paper urging the inclusion of veggie burgers on the menu. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown)

Paula Abdul nearly loses thumb in manicure mishap: The usually good-natured "American Idol" judge is planning to sue an upscale salon in Studio City, Calif., for substantial medical bills and extreme pain. Abdul said she cried out when a manicurist allegedly poked her in the thumb, and afterward sucked her wounded digit and tasted blood. After surgery last month to remove her entire thumbnail, Abdul appeared on "American Idol" with her arm in a sling -- and said she couldn't button her pants. Nor could she give a thumbs up to promising contestants. (N.Y. Daily News)

Move over, reality TV CBS, the nation's most popular network this season, will introduce three new dramas and two comedies next season, it announced Wednesday. In "Listen Up," Seinfeld alum Jason Alexander will play a character based on Washington Post sportswriter Tony Kornheiser. The show was placed on CBS' successful Monday night comedy lineup. Rob Lowe, who failed last year as a lawyer in NBC's short-lived "The Lyon's Den," will play a doctor at a Las Vegas casino in "Dr. Vegas." "It's a traditional medical show during the day and during the night, he sleeps with chorus girls and gambles," said CBS chairman Leslie Moonves. "What could go wrong with that?" (New York Post)

-- Corrie Pikul

Salon Staff

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