03/04/2005 AT 6:00 PM ET
Former Cheers star Kirstie Alley’s weighty new sitcom premieres on Sunday. PEOPLE takes a look at her return to TV comedy, plus other events to watch for in the coming week:
MONDAY, MARCH 7: Kirstie Alley isn’t afraid to reveal herself, cellulite and all, in her new Showtime sitcom Fat Actress, which premieres at 10 p.m. ET. True, it’s an exaggerated version of the former Cheers star (a la Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David) but the show follows Alley as she struggles with her weight in a town where being thin is deified. Ironically, Alley, who’s a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig, recently lost 20 lbs. and is on her way to dropping more. “My main thing is I don’t want attention on (my weight) anymore,” says Alley. “I want to get back to when you throw on clothes, you look fine, and you go.” Alley’s pal John Travolta guest stars as – what else? – her pal trying to help her on her path. And it’s a Travolta family affair: wife Kelly Preston plays a holistic diet guru.
Cue the music: Sylvester Stallone is getting back in the ring. But not to box. The Rocky star is executive producer and host of NBC’s The Contender, which premieres March 7 at 9:30 p.m. The series, which features 16 boxers fighting for a $1 million prize, is also exec produced by Apprentice and Survivor svengali Mark Burnett. But before The Contender even began, a tragic turn-of-events rocked the reality show: Last month, contender Najai “Nitro” Turpin, a 23-year-old middleweight from Philadelphia, committed suicide, after he’d already filmed the season. According to Burnett, his story will be addressed on the show.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9: After 24 years as the face of CBS Evening News, Dan Rather is stepping down from his anchor chair. Rather’s last few months have been somewhat shaky: His 60 Minutes story questioning President Bush’s National Guard service, which ran before the presidential election, turned out to have a questionable source and put him in the proverbial hot seat. But despite critics calling for his ouster after the story ran, Rather isn’t going far: He’ll continue to work as a correspondent for 60 Minutes. “I have always been and remain a hard news investigative reporter at heart,” he said recently. “I now look forward to pouring my heart into that kind of reporting full time.” Following his final broadcast, the retrospective Dan Rather: A Reporter Remembers airs at 8 p.m. ET.
THURSDAY, MARCH 10: Celebrity publicist Lizzie Grubman earned herself a spot in the pantheon of pop-culture villains after she backed her car into a crowd outside a Hamptons nightclub and fled the scene in July 2001. Now the PR flack, who served 37 days of a 60-day sentence for third-degree assault and leaving the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injuries, is hoping for a new kind of notoriety with her MTV reality show Power Girls. The show follows Grubman and her publicity assistants as they go about the business of planning parties, repping stars and deciding who’s in and who’s out. Grubman hopes the former is true for herself. Power Girls premieres 10:30 p.m. ET.