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'Law' gets 'Sopranos' star

LOS ANGELES -- Emmy-winning "Sopranos" star Michael Imperioli is crossing over to the right side of the law with a stint on NBC's "Law & Order."

Imperioli is set to guest star in the final three or four episodes of the crime drama as a detective who partners with Detective Joe Fontana (Dennis Farina).

He will fill in for "Law & Order" star Jesse L. Martin, who will take off early to star in Chris Columbus's big-screen adaptation of "Rent," reprising his role from the original Broadway production of the hit musical.

Martin will return to the series in 2005..

Williams lauds his predecessor

NEW YORK -- Brian Williams, whose tenure as Tom Brokaw's successor began yesterday, is no stranger to regular viewers of NBC's "Nightly News," but his success depends on whether viewers grow to know and like him as much as his predecessor.

Brokaw anchored his last "Nightly News" Wednesday, leaving on a ratings high with 15.4 million viewers.

Washington bureau chief Tim Russert came to New York for Williams's first show and was interviewed on the set about the political situation in Iraq. Williams made no mention of the transition until the final minutes.

Then he paid tribute to Brokaw, saying his predecessor was headed out on the world's "most carefully planned vacation." "Thanks to all of you for watching," Williams said. "We'll continue to work each and every day to earn and preserve your loyalty. It means so much to have you with us as we continue a great tradition, starting tonight."

ASSOCIATED PRESS

'Jeopardy' spoilerbows out early

The reign of the woman who dethroned "Jeopardy!" king Ken Jennings was considerably shorter than that of her predecessor.

Nancy Zerg, the California realtor who ended Jennings's 74-game, $2.5 million winning streak, failed to defend her position even once. Zerg ended up in third place -- with a total of just $2 -- on Wednesday's edition of the syndicated game show.

A wealth management analyst named Katie Fitzgerald beat Zerg and fellow challenger Nathan Brownback to win the game, earning $13,400.

Zerg was trailing Fitzgerald by several thousand dollars in the Double Jeopardy round when she hit a Daily Double clue in the category "Military Training Bases." She guessed wrong and lost $2,200, giving Fitzgerald an insurmountable lead.

Despite her short reign as champ, Zerg's place in pop-culture lore, as the person who beat the biggest money winner in game-show history, is intact.

ZAP2IT.COM

'Gilligan's Island'remake cruises

The reality-show update of "Gilligan's Island" brought some big ratings to the shores of TBS Tuesday night.

"The Real Gilligan's Island" premiered to an audience of just more than 4 million viewers at 8. A second episode aired immediately after the debut and attracted an additional 3.7 million people.

Equally important to the network is the fact that a majority of those viewers were adults between ages 18 and 49, the demographic advertisers chase most fervently. Both episodes also drew more than a million viewers in the adults 18-34 subset.

The premiere's 18-49 performance outdid that of broadcast networks Fox and UPN for the hour. Among men in that age range, "The Real Gilligan's Island" beat four broadcast networks, all but CBS and ABC.

ZAP2IT.COM

Globe on NECN

Here's what's happening on "Around the Globe" today on NECN:

9:30 a.m.: "Talk of New England"

12:30 p.m.: "Globe at Home" - Tina Sutton, who writes "The Clothes We Wear" and "Trend Watch" for Boston Globe Magazine, on brocade for the holidays.

4 p.m.: "Around the Globe"

6:30 p.m.: "New England Business Day"

8 p.m.: "NewsNight"

Schedule is subject to change.

Talk of the dial

7 p.m. WUMB-FM (91.9) -- Joan Orr hosts special show.

Other radiohighlights

9 a.m. WCRB-FM (102.5) -- Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 8; Beethoven's Symphony No. 1.

Noon WGBH-FM (89.7) -- "Classical Performances." Elgar's "The Wand of Youth" Suite No. 2; Dvorak's String Sextet in A.

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