Virgin honcho Richard Branson and the Rev. Al Sharpton try to give the Donald a run for his reality-show money with the debuts tonight of each of their new shows: "The Rebel Billionaire: Branson's Quest for the Best" (8 p.m. EST, Fox) and "I Hate My Job" (9 p.m. EST, Spike).
Barbra feels your pain: Barbra Streisand would like to help us all get through the aftermath of the presidential election by sharing a quote from Thomas Jefferson, posted on her Web site. "Although written in 1798, I feel his words speak perfectly to the strong sentiments of frustration and disappointment 48 percent of the country feel," writes Streisand. The quote: "A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt ... If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake." Thanks, Babs. (BarbraStreisand.com)
The boob war's latest battle:CBS is fighting the $550,000 fine imposed upon its stations by the FCC for their broadcast of Janet Jackson's Super Bowl halftime-show breast exposure. On Friday, the company, which is owned by Viacom, sent a 78-page letter to the FCC arguing that it had no advance knowledge of the "costume reveal" and therefore should not be held liable for it. "No one at the network knew, or had reason to suspect, that the halftime show would end with a glimpse of nudity," CBS contended, adding that the fine "is based on the premise that Viacom 'planned' and 'touted' what it did not know would happen." (Associated Press)
Going for the gold medal in contrition? Swimmer Michael Phelps, who stroked his way to six gold medals at the summer Olympics, has been charged with drunk driving after he got pulled over in Maryland for running a stop sign Thursday night. But the teen athlete, who could face jail time if convicted, says he's very sorry. "I want to say that last week I made a mistake. I wanted to share my feelings and I know that getting in a car with anything to drink is wrong, dangerous and is unacceptable," Phelps told the Associated Press. "I'm 19, but I was taught that no matter how old you are you should always take responsibility for your action, which I will do. Im very sorry this happened." (Associated Press via MSNBC)
Also sorry ... Page Six: The gossip column's report yesterday claiming that Colin Powell and President Bush cooked up a plan over the weekend for Powell's departure from his secretary of state post turns out to have been a dud. "Colin Powell did not join President Bush at Camp David last weekend as we were told," reports the column, which had credited a "DC source" for the original item. "While Powell is going to retire soon, the talk between the two about timing will come later." (Page Six)
First reviews in for Farrell's family jewels: Colin Farrell's schlong will finally make its big-screen debut. Though a scene that showed the actor in all his glory was cut from another film earlier this year -- amid reports that it was so impressive as to have been altogether too distracting for audiences -- he does go full-frontal in Oliver Stone's upcoming "Alexander," according to journalists given an advance peep at the film in L.A. this past weekend. And? According to one (male) writer, "It's nothing to be ashamed of, but people weren't gasping at it, either." (N.Y. Post) In other Farrell news, he says that, despite Pierce Brosnan's endorsement of him as the next James Bond, he's not remotely interested in the job. "I would not like to do it," Farrell said. (BBC News)
Also: The Band has agreed to allow Cingular to use its song "The Weight" in cellphone commercials (N.Y. Post) ... Burt Reynolds is suing his former girlfriend for extortion, alleging that she threatened to accuse him of abuse if he didn't fork millions of dollars her way (Rush and Molloy) ... Tara Reid says she's working on a sitcom "about an actress who gets in trouble with the tabloids but has a good heart," adding, "It's based on me" (Rush and Molloy) ... Lawyers for the woman who has accused Kobe Bryant of raping her in Colorado say they may try to move her civil suit against him to California because, as one of her attorneys puts it, "California law would provide our client with a significantly greater opportunity to be fully compensated for the injuries she suffered" (N.Y. Daily News) ... "Six Feet Under" creator Alan Ball has announced that he intends to kill off the HBO show after next season, explaining that, as the show's plot proves week after week, "everything comes to an end" (E! Online) Michael Moore and Mel Gibson may be the award season's first losers: Neither "Fahrenheit 9/11" nor "The Passion of the Christ" can compete for the Golden Globe for best drama, the former because it is a documentary and the latter because the dialogue is not in English (Reuters)
-- Amy Reiter