RENEWED: NBC announced Thursday it has given the go-ahead to produce at least nine more episodes of Joey, the Friends spin-off starring Matt LeBlanc, making it the first new sitcom in prime time to receive a full-season order. Joey, which costars The Sopranos Emmy winner Drea de Matteo, has averaged 16.4 million viewers overall in its first three episodes and ranks as the top-rated new comedy so far this season among NBC’s target audience of adults aged 18 to 49. … Also set for renewal: Punk?d, for three more 24-episode seasons, MTV has announced. What is not known is whether Ashton Kutcher, who?s been busy with other projects, will return as host. Stay tuned.
DIED: Famed fashion photographer Richard Avedon, who was the role model for the Fred Astaire character Dick Avery in the 1957 movie musical Funny Face, died Friday morning at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, a family spokesman tells Reuters. The New York-based Avedon, 81, was hospitalized last Saturday after suffering a brain hemorrhage during a Texas photo shoot for the New Yorker magazine. His work appeared in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and many of his portraits are to be found in the great art museums of the world.
SUED: A travel agency sued Courtney Love, 40, on Thursday, claiming the rocker never paid for nearly $50,000 in airline tickets, hotel reservations and other travel arrangements for herself, her family, agents and staff last year, reports the Associated Press. New Act Travel, in Los Angeles, seeks money for the tickets as well as service and bank charges, damages, court fees and $1,000 in excess baggage charges. Howard Weitzman, an attorney for Love, said he was unaware of the lawsuit and declined to comment. Also Thursday, a Beverly Hills judge postponed Love’s trial on felony charges of illegal possession of painkillers until Nov. 3.
VOICED: Avril Lavigne, who turned 20 on Monday, will sing the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song on the animated film’s soundtrack, which will also include contributions from the Shins, Ween and Motorhead, reports Billboard. The movie opens Nov. 19, and will also contain original songs from the Flaming Lips (“SpongeBob & Patrick Confront the Psychic Wall of Energy”) and Wilco (“Just a Kid,” featuring backing vocals by frontman Jeff Tweedy’s son Spencer’s band, the Blisters).
ANNOUNCED: British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he would enter the hospital Friday for a “routine” medical procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat and predicted that he would be back at work on Monday, reports The New York Times. Blair, 51, also told the BBC that if elected to a third term, he would serve a full four years, making him the longest-serving Labor prime minister and exceeding the longevity record of Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher. Elections are expected next May.
INJURED: Debbie Matenopoulos, 29, cohost of the nationally syndicated morning program Good Day Live, was injured and rushed to a hospital late Wednesday while taping a segment on a practice fall with firefighters in downtown L.A., AP reports. Though she landed incorrectly, she is expected to make a full recovery. Matenopoulos’s cohost, Arthel Neville, also was on location, but wasn’t injured.
RELEASED: After a 23-year legal battle, a federal judge has ordered the FBI to turn over files on John Lennon to Jonathan Wiener, a University of California professor, who said the documents show Britain’s domestic spy agency shadowed the late Beatle’s political activities, reports Reuters. Government lawyers are reviewing the ruling, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Charles Miller said. Said Wiener: “The FBI should have better things to do (than) still trying to keep secret 34-year-old documents about the anti-war activities of a dead rock star.”