TV Notes: Bob Newhart Meets the Thong

What happens when TV's favorite shrink is paired up with a platinum-haired, bejeweled singer who made a hit song out of ladies underwear? We may soon find out.

"The Thong Song" crooner, Sisqo, has turned to Bob Newhart for a part in his upcoming NBC Sitcom. Variety reports that the project features a show-within-a-show format, and the 72-year-old comic actor would appear as himself and a sitcom actor. Sisqo's first move, Get Over It, hits the theaters Friday.

After amazing success on the charts, why the move to TV? "I just woke up one morning and was like, TV's sucking right now," he said. "I want to be on it."

Fraiser Renewed

Is life getting you down? Tell it to your shrink. Bob Newhart may have retired his couch. But TV's reigning shrink, Dr. Frasier Crane, has not yet left the building.

NBC has worked out a deal with Paramount to keep Frasier on the air for at least three more years, reportedly paying out about $5 million per episode. That means the show will run into its 11th season, just like Cheer, where the Frasier character first appeared.

Star Kelsey Grammer says he's thrilled with the news. "I got off the phone and jumped around the room for a while."

Grammer says shooting the five-time Emmy Award winning show in front of a live audience each week keeps it fresh. And it satisfies his craving to return to the stage.

"The theater whore in me is serviced every week," he says. "We are definitely addicted to that immediate response thing. There's nothing more gratifying for an actor than that."

Bette Noir

She can sing, she can tell a joke and act. But Bette Midler couldn't make her sitcom work.

CBS is canceling Bette. The last episode features the debut of Robert Hayes as Midler's husband. He replaced Kevin Dunn, who left a few months after the show's premiere.

Bette was among the new shows considered most likely to succeed when CBS debuted it last fall, with the big-name star portraying herself. Despite a promising start, Bette sagged in the ratings. Last week's episode was 71st in Nielsen Media Research's prime-time rankings, with only 7.1 million viewers — or less than a quarter of the audience for Survivor.

It's been a bad year for new series built around well-known actors: shows starring Michael Richards and John Goodman were cancelled, and Geena Davis has been struggling at ABC.

Moreover …

The Sopranos knocked off the Kennedy clan, as the HBO mob drama's season premiere drew 11.3 million people - the network's largest audience ever for a single show. NBC's movie Jackie, Ethel and Joan: Women of Camelot notched an audience about 11 million. No bad, considering HBO reaches only one-third the number of people that the broadcast networks do. … Another short blurb … Another short blurb.

ABC Radio and's Buck Wolf and Nancy Chandross contributed to this report.