The Fix

Britney's long weekend. Satellite radio companies to merge. Plus: Liotta gets DUI.

Published February 20, 2007 2:30PM (EST)

First Word

XM and Sirius to join forces: Satellite radio competitors Sirius and XM -- the radio homes, respectively, of Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey -- are soon to be rivals no more. On Monday, the companies announced they've agreed to a $13 billion merger. The merger is likely to raise antitrust issues with the Federal Communications Commission, the New York Times reports, and people involved in the negotiations say both companies "determined it was in their best interests to complete a deal while the Bush administration was in power." (Variety, N.Y. Times)

Sad clown: We didn't think it was likely that the story of Anna Nicole Smith could get any more sordid and weird -- but we were wrong. Greta Van Susteren's Fox News show Monday night aired a short clip in which a clown-faced Smith, apparently on something strong and barely able to speak, plays with a doll in a baby carriage as Howard K. Stern films her. At the end of the clip, he tells her, "This footage is worth money." Watch the video here. Meanwhile, lawyers for Stern have been battling with Larry Birkhead over where the custody dispute over baby Dannielynn should take place -- Stern's lawyers want the case to be heard in the Bahamas, while Birkhead is trying to get it brought back to the United States. (TMZ)

Spears madness: Even if you spent the Presidents Day vacation in a wooden cabin out of cellphone range, it was impossible to miss the news that things have gone seriously, seriously awry with Britney Spears. In the brief span of the three-day weekend, she reportedly managed to check in and out of rehab, shave her head, get two new tattoos, skip Paris Hilton's birthday party (along with almost everyone else), put her new house up for sale, buy a blond wig and crash a stranger's karaoke party (which she reportedly fled after someone requested "... Baby One More Time"). Now the salon where she trimmed off her own hair (the stylist refused to do it for her) is reportedly selling Britney's shorn locks, along with her lighter and empty Red Bull can, for a cool $1 million -- see the goods at To top it off, she's not even the best-looking bald celeb -- Sinéad O'Connor and Kylie Minogue carried off the look with far more grace. (People, Page Six, the Scoop, Perth Now, New York Daily News, BBC News, Apropos of Something)

White noise ... After crashing into two cars early Saturday night, Ray Liotta was arrested and booked on DUI charges in Los Angeles, and was released after ponying up $15,000 bail. (Associated Press) ... Sylvester Stallone and his entourage were detained briefly at customs upon entering Australia to promote the actor's latest movie, "Rocky Balboa," as officials seized some illegal substances, reportedly bodybuilding supplements that are banned down under -- Sly's private jet and hotel rooms were also later searched. (E Online) ... Other news from Australia: Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson were spotted out together at a private screening of Matthew McConaughey's "We Are Marshall" on the Gold Coast and "seemed relaxed although slightly nervous, probably because they were in public together," a source tells People. "Once the lights dimmed, they chilled out a bit more." (People) ... At an HIV benefit concert in London on Sunday night, Kelly Osbourne tearfully and cryptically told the audience that one of her family members is HIV positive. (This Is London) ... Nicolas Cage's "Ghost Rider" broke the Presidents Day weekend opening record by posting $51.5 million in box office earnings over the holiday, also making it the biggest debut so far of 2007. (Variety)


Eat green, be green? While choosing a hybrid over an SUV is one way to reduce your greenhouse-gas emissions, recent studies show that going vegetarian may be the quickest, most effective way to reduce global warming, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Livestock are not only huge producers of methane gas, they affect deforestation -- and a huge amount of energy is required to bring them to your table. Globally, the industry is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions. The story cites a report from EarthSave International as well: "Arguably the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products." ("Humans' Beef With Livestock: A Warmer Planet," the Christian Science Monitor)

Buzz Index

"I think 'Idol' is the most impactful show in the history of television.

-- NBC Universal chief executive Jeff Zucker on Fox's "American Idol." (N.Y. Times)


On the not-so-free Freedom Tower: With New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer expected to announce his support of the World Trade Center's Freedom Tower any day, the New York Times looks again at the much-derided 1,776-foot building itself. The problem, writes Nicolai Ouroussoff, is "what the building expresses as a work of architecture" -- he calls it a "clumsy bloated form" that "vaguely recalls the worst of postmodernist historicism." Spitzer was thought, until recently, to be against the building's being finished as currently planned, and Ouroussoff finds many reasons it shouldn't be done: "If built, the lamentable Freedom Tower would be a constant reminder of our loss of ambition, and our inability to produce an architecture that shows a genuine faith in America's collective future rather than a nostalgia for a nonexistent past," he writes. Citing the building's base -- "a 20-story-high windowless concrete bunker" -- he says, "It speaks less of resilience and tolerance than of paranoia. It's a building armored against an outside world that we no longer trust." ("A Tower That Sends a Message of Anxiety, Not Ambition," N.Y. Times)


No. 1 new fiction on next week's New York Times list: "Step on a Crack," by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
No. 1 new nonfiction on next week's New York Times list: "The Audacity of Hope," by Barack Obama
No. 1 seller on both and "The Secret," by Rhonda Byrne

Turn On

On Tuesday night, "John Ratzenberger's Made in America" (Travel, 9 p.m. EST) visits the company that makes the Oscar statuettes; the latest reality TV modeling show, "The Agency (VH1, 10 p.m.), has its series premiere; and the 12 hopeful guys who've made it this far on "American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m. EST) perform for the judges.


Regis and Kelly (ABC, 9 a.m. EST) Heather Graham, Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick
The View (ABC, 11 a.m. EST) Richard Lewis, David Tutera, guest co-host Sherri Shepherd
Ellen (Syndicated, check local listings) Harry Connick Jr.
Oprah (Syndicated, check local listings) Nate's small space makeover
Larry King (CNN, 9 p.m. EST) Discussion of Anna Nicole Smith updates
Jon Stewart (Comedy Central, 11 p.m. EST) Ralph Nader (repeat)
Stephen Colbert (Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m. EST) Chris Hedges (repeat)
David Letterman (CBS, 11:30 p.m. EST) Barbara Walters, shark attack survivor Eric Nerhus, K-os
Jay Leno (NBC, 11:35 p.m. EST) Bill Maher, skydiving accident survivor Michael Holmes, Rodney Atkins
Jimmy Kimmel (ABC, 12:05 a.m. EST) Ellen DeGeneres, Skeet Ulrich, Pretty Ricky
Conan O'Brien (NBC, 12:35 a.m. EST) Heather Graham, Lewis Black, Explosions in the Sky
Craig Ferguson (CBS, 12:35 a.m. EST) Patricia Heaton, Parminder Nagra

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