SO, ABC--IS THAT YOUR FINAL ANSWER?
Who wants to be tossed aside like an old Gucci loafer? Certainly not REGIS PHILBIN. The host of ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, a monster hit for two years but now dropping in the ratings, was shocked, shocked when ABC execs would not confirm or deny that the show would be on the network's schedule next fall. Reege, who not long ago joked that he was the man who had saved ABC, now has to face the possibility that his prime-time showcase will be canceled. Or that he might be replaced. On his morning talk show, Live with Regis and Kelly, he groused that ABC wants to bring Millionaire back in the fall with "a comedian, a red-hot comedian...They want it to become a comedy show." Even if the show is canceled, Regis won't be out on the street; ABC wants him to host a half-hour syndicated version of Millionaire that would premiere next fall. Somehow, it's not the same as saving a network.
Note to Madonna, Britney, J. Lo and all blondishly tressed, rump-wiggling, belly-baring singer- dancers: give it up. You are pale imitations. CHARO is back! And better than ever, especially now that stretch fabrics have been mainstreamed. The campy sensation of '70s and early '80s TV is both star and co-producer of Bravo, her own show in Las Vegas, featuring flamenco, merengue, salsa and plenty of clean "cuchi-cuchi" for the entire family. Asked if she was sick of her signature phrase, she burbled, "Are you kidding? Cuchi-cuchi has shown me the way to the bank!" On her show-biz hiatus she moved with her Swedish husband to Hawaii to raise their son--now 19 and a student at UCLA (imagine those family weekends). She won't divulge her age, but Charo notes, "I'm a very happy cucaracha!"
FROM ITALY, WITH PIPES
He could be the tastiest Italian import since sliced prosciutto. ALESSANDRO SAFINA, 36, a smooth-voiced tenor whose self-titled CD has hit the States, is here to sell his brand of "melodious, romantic pop opera." Achieving crossover success is tricky, but Safina is on the right track. "I like music with passion," he says, "Rachmaninoff, Puccini...U2." Safina performed on the sound track of Moulin Rouge, singing backup to star Ewan McGregor on Elton John's Your Song, and he has also toured with Coolio, UB40 and the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde. But the singer Liz Hurley calls "ravishingly sexy" was shy when asked about women in his life--save one. He plans to return to Siena for the holidays to see his mother. Here in America, that's catnip for the ladies. He's working that crossover pretty well.
IT'S A GIRL! BUT IS IT AN EMPRESS?