The Fix

What will be the next sudoku? First pictures of Jolie's new son. Plus: McInerney's stiff date.

Published March 21, 2007 1:30PM (EDT)

First Word

Britney leaves rehab: With her 30 days just about expired, Britney Spears has checked out of rehab and re-entered daily life. Spears "has been released by the Promises Malibu Treatment Center after successfully completing their program," her manager said in a statement, and a friend tells People she is "doing fine." (People)

Aww, Knut: Meet Knut, the 3-month-old polar bear rejected by his mother at the Berlin Zoo who's since been raised by humans. Keepers at the Berlin Zoo have been feeding him by bottle since his mother abandoned him, but in a perverse twist, animal rights activists in Germany are demanding he be killed. "Raising him by hand is not appropriate to the species but rather a blatant violation of animal welfare laws," activist Frank Albrecht told the German Bild tabloid. "In actual fact, the zoo needs to kill the bear cub." A zoo director in the town of Aachen told the press, "I don't consider it appropriate for the species that the little polar bear is being raised on a bottle ... One should have had the courage to put him to sleep much earlier." Knut's much-anticipated first public appearance is expected to happen sometime this week. (Der Spiegel)


Sudoku man: Maki Kaji, "a college dropout who spends his weekends betting on racehorses," is best known as the (self-proclaimed) godfather of sudoku. His Japan-based puzzle-publishing company, Nikoli, was the force behind the recent arrival of sudoku on the international puzzle scene -- although the game was actually invented by an American -- and Kaji is trying to figure out what the next big puzzle will be. As the New York Times reports on Wednesday, Kaji says the secret of Nikoli's success is its readership: "About 50,000 readers of its main magazine submit ideas; the most promising are then printed by Nikoli to seek approval and feedback from other readers. That process allows Nikoli to tap into the insatiable urge of Japanese puzzle solvers to tinker and improve, a drive its readers apply to games with the intensity of Toyota's engineers trying to outdo Detroit's automakers." Kaji is trying out three new puzzles on the market -- you can try them here. ("Inside Japan's Puzzle Palace," New York Times)

Random acts of non-journalism: Former Rocketboom star/ "personality" Amanda Congdon drew some unfortunate attention this week when it was learned she had shilled for DuPont in some online "infotainmercials." But the vlog star scoffs at such insipidly Luddite concepts as potential conflicts of interest or the appearance of impropriety. "I am not subject to the 'rules' traditional journalists have to follow," Congdon writes. "Isn't that what new media is all about? Breaking the rules? Setting our own? I see nothing wrong with doing commercials, which is what they, quite transparently, are." She continues "... sometimes I will perform acts of journalism, but that doesn't make me a journalist. I have no aspirations to become a traditional journalist. That option has been offered, and I have declined. " Good to know! (

White noise ... The first pictures of Pax Thien Jolie-Pitt, Angelina's newly adopted son, have surfaced in Hello! Canada. (Perez Hilton) ... Those pix fetched Jolie somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million, according to Radar. (Radar) ... Lindsay Lohan (right) is hoping puppies will help her stay sober. After buying a Yorkie and a Jack Russell, she told GQ (via BlackBerry), "I bought two puppies today! Sober impulse buying of companions who will help me stay home etc." (Page Six) ... A sick David Letterman was unable to fill his hosting duties last night -- he's suffering from a stomach bug, according to CBS -- and guest Adam Sandler stepped into the role to fill the void. (Los Angeles Times)

Buzz Index


Music of the "Coast": Chief New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini writes in Wednesday's paper about the incidental music that accompanies Tom Stoppard's "Coast of Utopia" trilogy. Composer Mark Bennett's score "helps bridge the leaps and bounds in Mr. Stoppard's epic," he writes (you can listen to several excerpts, including the play's "Prologue," on the Times Web site). "It takes a particular skill to come up with short extracts of music that enhance without overwhelming the drama. But even in passages of a minute or less, Mr. Bennett's keen ear for harmony and color comes through over and over in 'Utopia.' " ("Driving the Drama, Musically, Along 'Utopia's' Leaps and Bounds," N.Y. Times)

"Years ago, I spent half the night chatting up a very beautiful woman. I managed to get her to come back to my place, to undress her and get her into bed. Then when I woke up the next day, I realized that she was dead. Before we had a chance to do anything."

-- Jay McInerney on the worst date he's ever had. (Vogue Hommes International via Rush & Molloy)


Last week's top TV:
1. "American Idol," Tuesday (Fox), 29.83 million viewers.
2. "American Idol," Wednesday (Fox), 26.18 million viewers.
3. "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC), 22.68 million viewers.
4. "Deal or No Deal," Monday (NBC), 16.77 million viewers.
5. "Cold Case" (CBS), 15.09 million viewers.

(Nielsen ratings from Fox News)

Turn On

On Wednesday, Stockard Channing narrates "Through Deaf Eyes" (PBS, 9 p.m. EDT), a documentary on American history from the perspective of the deaf, legendary "Vogue" dancer Benny Ninja gets "America's Next Top Model" (The CW, 8 p.m. EDT) to strike a pose, "Lost" (Fox, 9 p.m. EDT) lets slip what got Locke into a wheelchair, the detectives on "Bones" (Fox, 8 p.m. EDT) find a boneless corpse, and "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 8 p.m. EDT) gives us a fresh serving of teenage angst.


Regis and Kelly (ABC, 9 a.m. EDT) Adam Sandler, Terrence Howard, Bucky Covington, co-host Howie Mandel
The View (ABC, 11 a.m. EDT) The cast of "A Chorus Line," the cast of "Les Miserables," LaChanze, Elizabeth Withers-Mendes, baker Majorie Johnson
Ellen (Syndicated, check local listings) Jeff Goldblum, Mat Kearney
Oprah (Syndicated, check local listings) Oprah and Gayle's Big Adventure part 3
Charlie Rose (PBS, check local listings) TBA
Larry King (CNN, 9 p.m. EDT) Bill Cosby, Toni Braxton
Jon Stewart (Comedy Central, 11 p.m. EDT) Chris Hansen
Stephen Colbert (Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m. EDT) Benjamin Barber
David Letterman (CBS, 11:30 p.m. EDT) Jack Black, Lara Logan, beer launching creator John Cornwell
Jay Leno (NBC, 11:35 p.m. EDT) Heather Mills, James Morrison
Jimmy Kimmel (ABC, 12:05 a.m. EDT) Jeff Goldblum, Kate Mara, voicemail collector Michael Wilde
Conan O'Brien (NBC, 12:35 a.m. EDT) Don Cheadle, Neil Patrick Harris, Shane Mauss
Craig Ferguson (CBS, 12:35 a.m. EDT) Tom Arnold, Drake Witham, Hinder


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