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Brotherly Love? Moonveses' Stand-Off Eases

It looks like this summer will not see a Moonves vs. Moonves battle royal after all. When tortured negotiations between CBS and King of Queens co-star Leah Remini over a new contract stalled this spring, industry rubberneckers salivated over a looming fight between CBS poobah Leslie Moonves and his brother, Hollywood powerbroker—and Remini attorney—Jon Moonves. But now sources at King of Queens report, with relief, that the previously stalled negotiations have finally resumed. The news has been greeted with cautious optimism at CBS, which needs a healthy King of Queens this fall.

When the network balked earlier this year at granting Remini a healthy pay bump (she reportedly earns significantly less than co-star Kevin James' $500,000 per episode), some sort of job action seemed a likely option. After all, when sitcom stars sense that they have some leverage and not enough compensation, they have a way of losing their zest for work. The Friends gang suspended operations until NBC ponied up fat raises for them a couple of years ago, and last summer Everybody Loves Raymond's supporting stars took the sick-out route until CBS realized the error of its monetary ways.

The network is moving the solid ratings performer from Wednesdays to Mondays this fall to shore up that now Raymondless night. And the relationship between Remini's character and James' is essential to the show, which will be starting its eighth season. A new deal would arrive just in time: The show's writers return to work shortly, and production on the new season starts the last week in July. The Moonves camps declined to comment.

Vixens Vex

Is G4 sending a message to the hormone-crazed young men in its target demo or to the FCC and anyone else in Washington who's pondering the idea of applying indecency standards to cable television? The Comcast-owned channel for videogamers ran an ad in the June issue of lad mag FHM featuring Leisure Suit Larry's Sally Mae, a skimpily-clad blonde “Video Vixen,” as G4 refers to game-babes. In the ad, Sally wears a revealing shirt and is pulling down the back of her hot pants to reveal several inches of butt-crack. The tagline: “Kiss my perfectly proportioned, computer-generated ass.”

The ad is for this Tuesday night's Videogame Vixen of the Year contest (“Television's First Digital Beauty Pageant”), an event that is not going to win a congeniality award from the Parents Television Council.

“The fact that these are animated cartoons versus real women doesn't make it better. It's meant to elicit the same reaction as pornography,” says Melissa Caldwell, the council's director of research. Caldwell says the contest—and its slot on the not exactly high-profile G4—bolsters the argument for reining in cable, either with indecency standards or by offering à la carte or family-tier programming options. “It shows how hard it is to monitor what programs are coming into your home.

“You may know that MTV is something you want to watch out for, but who's ever heard of the G4 channel?”

Answer: a lot of obsessive gamers whose idea of taking a break from staring at videogames is staring at television about videogames. G4 marketing chief Gaynor Strachan Chun says the racy ad and Vixen contest are entirely appropriate. “It is right for our audience,” she says. “This is how they see the characters in the games.” She also points out that the show is scheduled late at night—which is true enough on the East Coast, where it goes on at 10:30. But the modestly budgeted G4 doesn't send a West Coast feed, so that's 7:30 Pacific.

'Today' OKs Gay Weddings

Gay marriage may still be a subject of hot debate elsewhere in the country, but NBC's Today show has decided, with some outside prodding, where it stands: Same-sex vows are fine with them. For six years, the show has been running a series that offers an on-air wedding to couples willing to let viewers help select details down to the honeymoon location. One stipulation: “This opportunity is open only to currently engaged couples consisting of a male and a female.”

After inquiries from gay-rights activists and an article last week in The Advocate, the policy was changed at week's end. A Today spokeswoman explains that the show has always strived to have the winning couple get legally married on the show. Previous weddings had taken place in New York or Anguilla, where local laws bar gay marriages, but this year's contest is about “hometown” weddings—which might take place where gay weddings are permitted, notably Massachusetts.

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