NO PAY, NO GAIN CSI's Jorja Fox is fired when CBS suspects she's holding out for more money, and the next day her costar George Eads who claims he was late to work because he overslept is axed for the same reason. About two weeks later, the humbled actors return to their old gigs at their old salaries. Clearly they lack the show-hobbling power of Kim Cattrall, who in May caused HBO to scuttle its proposed Sex and the City movie, after producers reportedly balked at her demands for script approval and a paycheck equal to Sarah Jessica Parker's. Lesson learned: If your character looks for DNA, you're replaceable. But if your character's mattress is covered in DNA, then you've got power.
LEAVING LAS VEGAS Linda Ronstadt is asked to leave the Aladdin Casino premises after complaints that she dedicated the song ''Desperado'' to Michael Moore during her show. Wary of this jingoistic trend, Bellagio managers consider changing the name of in-house French Canadian-based troupe Cirque du Soleil to ''Freedom Freaks.''
HEAVY MEDAL The Olympics begin in Athens and later piss off 49 million South Koreans after the country unsuccessfully argues that a judge's error robbed their man of the gold won by Paul Hamm. Taking a cue from the Hamm imbroglio, ABC considers claiming that a Nielsen error is what keeps life as we know it from beating CSI. But not even South Korea would buy that.
ANCHOR AWAY On a 60 Minutes broadcast, Dan Rather presents documents in which a National Guard commander wrote of the pressure to ''sugarcoat'' a young G-Dub's spotty records. Rather dismisses attacks on the story's veracity as ''partisan,'' until evidence mounts that the papers might be forged and that a Democratic activist handed them over to CBS. Concedes the newsman: ''We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry.'' In November, Rather announces he'll resign as CBS Evening News anchor on March 9, but stresses his decision has nothing to do with the investigation into the 60 Minutes story. Republicans rejoice over the departure of the King of Folksy Phrases, though dogs that won't hunt are saddened that their high-profile metaphorical days are over.
KEY PARTY Talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey kicks off her 19th season by asking her 276 audience members to open up small boxes, in which they all find keys to their own brand-new Pontiac G6, worth $28,000. (''You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!'') But as Jerry Springer kicks off his 14th season, all audience members get is their own brand-new itching-and-burning sensation.