News Summary

Clearasil Sets

Plus, Elton John to perform at Madonna's wedding, NBC considers a Bill Clinton talk show, and more

MUSIC NEWS Getting MTV to produce the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXV may be one of the smartest moves the demographically savvy execs at CBS ever made. In a bid to boost the teen count among the 750 million worldwide viewers, organizers have nabbed 'N Sync and Aerosmith to perform during the break, not long after the Backstreet Boys open the festivities with the ''Star Spangled Banner.'' This means we can expect a lot of high tech Clearasil commercials.

THE WEDDING Reporters at the Britain Sun tabloid are counting the days. After Madonna weds Guy Ritchie this Friday, what are they going to do with their time? The tab splashed more details of the Highlands extravaganza on the front page yesterday. The Material Mom has reportedly asked Elton John to play his instrumental ''Song For Guy'' during the ceremony. In addition, the paper noted that Gwyneth Paltrow and Stella McCartney (the fashion designer daughter of Paul) were among the first guests to arrive in Scotland. It's rumored that Paltrow might be the maid of honor, while McCartney has designed Madge's dress. But c'mon guys, what we really know is exactly what she ate for breakfast.

SPLIT Helen Hunt, 37, has filed for divorce from her husband, ''The Simpson'''s Hank Azaria, 36. The ''What Women Want'' star and Azaria dated for about five years before tying the knot 17 months ago. The couple separated last summer. They have no children.

AWARDS Critics are unanimous about ''Traffic''/ ''Erin Brockovich'' director Steven Soderbergh: The Broadcast Film Critics Association has joined the New York and Los Angeles critics circles in honoring Soderbergh as the year's best director. Julia Roberts will probably thank Soderbergh, when she accepts her best actress honors from the BFCA; Russell Crowe snagged the best actor prize for ''Gladiator.'' Cameron Crowe received his first award for best screenplay (his first such award) for ''Almost Famous,'' while Kate Hudson received was named breakthrough performer. Frances McDormand (''Almost Famous'') and Joaquin Phoenix (''Gladiator'') were named best supporting actress and actor, respectively. The critics have yet to choose a film for best picture honors.

TV NEWS Hey, if an actor can be president, why can't a president be a TV star? That's what the execs at NBC seem to think about President Bill Clinton. The network has been discussing the possibility of offering our legally challenged prez his very own talk show. Spokeswoman Shirley Powell told Variety that the program concept would be something ''along the lines of a 'Meet the Press'.'' White House press secretary Jake Siewart, however, says the Commander in Chief has ''no plans to do such a show.'' He's too busy getting ready to ''stand and fight'' that potential indictment.

BIZ Ricky Martin might get back into acting. The singer has signed a deal with the United Talent Agency for representation in all areas except music, Variety reports. Hopefully they can find him a better gig than ''General Hospital.''

DEATHS English singer/ songwriter Kirsty MacColl died Monday in an accident while vacationing in Mexico. MacColl was reportedly hit by a motorboat while swimming off the Yucatan Peninsula with her two sons. MacColl had worked with such artists as the Smiths, the Pogues, and Billy Bragg. She also recorded several solo albums, including ''Kite'' and ''Electric Landlady.'' She was 41.... Roebuck ''Pops'' Staples, founder of the gospel and R&B group the Staple Singers, died after suffering a concussion from a fall. The Staple Singers are known for such classic tunes as ''Respect Yourself,'' ''I'll Take You There,'' and ''Heavy Makes You Happy.'' He was 84.

Originally posted Dec 20, 2000