Gibson: Kevin Winter/Image Direct
Lori Reese
January 08, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

AWARDS Thank God for Gallup polls. Otherwise, we never would have guessed that Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, and ‘N Sync are among the most popular entertainers in America. All three were handed People’s Choice Awards last night during the live broadcast on CBS. The honors were determined by telephone Gallup polls conducted between Nov. 1999 and Oct. 2000.

This means Mel won without the help of his latest blockbuster ”What Women Want.” Likewise, Jim Carrey snagged the comedian prize sans the release of ”Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” John Goodman was named best performer in a new TV show — despite the cancellation of his series ”Normal, Ohio.”

Meanwhile, none of this year’s Oscar contenders took the prize for best motion picture or best drama. Instead, both honors went to a current video fave ”The Green Mile.” The awards may be outdated, but at least they will help Mel, Julia, and Jim get those well deserved raises.

DUETS It’s kind of like Barbie and Skipper — with drum machines! Madonna and Britney Spears are contemplating a collaboration. The two generations of doll baby blond pop stars — and rivals for this year’s best female vocalist Grammy — are thinking of laying down a duet track some time in May, according to MTV News. Their managers say nothing is set in stone as of yet. However, the two have expressed their affection for one another publicly in the past few months. Madge wore a Britney tee shirt at her recent gig in New York. (Spears told that she was blown away by the homage.) She also stuck up for the teen queen in an interview in the latest Elle magazine. ”I find it really irritating that everyone beats up on Britney. I want to do nothing but support her and praise her and wish her the best.”

In related news, rumors that Guy Ritchie is planning a remake of ”All About Eve” starring the two blondes and Justin Timberlake have yet to be confirmed.

CASTING ”The Sopranos”’ James Gandolfini has found an aboveboard way to make some extra dough. The Emmy award winning actor landed a $5 million film gig, opposite Robert Redford in ”The Castle.” Gandolfini will play a warden in a maximum security prison who is forced to look after a five star general (Redford) under whom he once served.

GOOD DEEDS J.K. Rowling hasn’t forgotten what it was like to be on the dole. The author says she’s planning to publish two special Harry Potter books soon — with the goal of earning some $33 million for impoverished kids. The two new stories — ”Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and ”Quidditch Through the Ages” — are also textbooks in the library of Professor Albus Dumbledore’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Three dollars from each sale of the 11 million copies published throughout the world will go to Comic Relief, a charity launched by British comedians to aid children in developing countries. ”You should buy them because they will save lives,” Rowling said. At last: a reason to study Quidditch.

TV NEWS We all know that, after this season, ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is thinking about trading up on stellar WB ratings. But we had no idea how desperate the netlet is to keep its biggest star. The WB’s chief exec, Jamie Kellner said they are willing to give ”Buffy”’s producers, 20th Century Fox, ALL of the show’s profits if they agree to stay.

”We will take all the revenue we can generate with ‘Buffy’ and we’ll give it to you in a giant wheelbarrow,” Kellner told the Associated Press. ”And if that’s not enough, then take it to somebody else. You’ve demonstrated you’re not the kind of partner we should be doing business with.” Incidentally, how BIG is that giant wheelbarrow we’re talking about?

THUGS Death Row Records is taking another jab at their former hitmaker, Snoop Dogg — literally. The label’s official website is running a threatening message directed at the renascent rapper — whose latest release, ”Tha Last Meal,” is currently in the Billboard top five.

”2001 The Year Of Fear,” reads the note on the site. ”All doggs run & hide.” Then the words ”Suge [Knight] is coming home,” appear as the sounds of a barking dog apparently being shot plays in the background. Are they for real? ”What appears on the site is self explanatory,” Death Row’s publicist told Launch.

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