Keanu Reeves is offered a huge payday for two ''Matrix'' sequels |


Keanu Reeves is offered a huge payday for two ''Matrix'' sequels

Plus, Britney Spears and Eminem sign up for the MTV Video Music Awards, and Montel Williams announces he has MS

PAYDAY Keanu Reeves is reportedly about to sign a deal to act in two ”Matrix” sequels where he would receive either $30 million or 15 percent of the gross of the two films, whichever is greater. The movies will be shot back-to-back for around 8 months, and their fall 2000 start date should give Reeves time to squeeze another job in there, just to raise a little mad money.

BOOKED Joining the extensive list of performers on the Sep. 9 MTV Video Music Awards are Britney Spears, Eminem, and Moby, thereby maximizing the odds that when you watch a rerun of the ceremony in five years, you’ll be able to say, ”Oh my God, remember THEM?”

DIAGNOSED Montel Williams held a press conference Monday to reveal that he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Currently, his symptoms are mild, and he said that he will continue hosting his talk show, which is going into its ninth season. ”In the past six months I have suffered some pain,” he said. ”But with the inspiration of the people around me… I have been able to apply myself both mentally and physically…. I want to inspire people, and show them that they can live and prosper with MS.” Williams has established the Montel Williams MS Research Fund that will work in conjunction with researchers at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

LAWSUIT Howard Stern’s $1.5 million lawsuit against a movie company that had hired him for a film that was later canceled has been settled for only $50,000. Stern had been signed for a role in ”Jane” with Melanie Griffith in 1997 by the production company Ministry of Film, which didn’t raise enough money and had to nix the movie, according to Reuters. In his suit, Stern claimed that Ministry should have known from the beginning that it didn’t have the funds. A Ministry lawyer said, ”We definitely were looking forward to the trial, expected a verdict in our favor and looked forward to suing Stern for malicious prosecution. But any time you can settle a $1.5 million claim for pennies on the dollar, settlement is a smart play.”

COMEBACK Just because Ginger Spice chipped off all of her makeup doesn’t mean England has forgotten her. Geri Halliwell just hit No. 1 on the British pop charts with her solo tune, ”Mi Chico Latino,” making it the first time she’s been on top since leaving the Spice Girls. In America, however, her album ”Schizophonic” shriveled and disappeared, like a clump of dried mascara.

REEL DEAL ”Shakespeare in Love” director John Madden may trade his kingdom for a horse to helm the Western ”St Agnes’ Stand.” The film follows an outlaw who finds himself coming to the aid of a group of nuns and orphans who were the victims of an ambush.

RECORD RELEASE SHUFFLE A couple of bands have shifted the street dates of their new albums: Fans of No Doubt will have to wait a bit longer for the full-length follow-up to 1995’s ”Tragic Kingdom.” According to MTV News, the new release has been pushed back from November to early 2000 to give the band time to add a couple of new songs. But on a more punctual note, Bush’s new CD, ”The Science of Things,” will hit stores Oct. 26, a week earlier than originally planned.

CHOPPING BLOCK Newsweek has reported that network president Jamie Tarses – who still has two years left on her contract – may be laid off in the wake of ABC’s recent deal to merge its production division with that of its owner, Disney. ABC Group chairman Bob Iger called the report ”untrue.” (Tarses has been the victim of firing rumors since soon after she took the job in 1996.) As a sign of her alleged impending unemployment, Newsweek cites the fact that Disney placed its former chairman of Buena Vista TV Prods., Lloyd Braun, as a cochair of ABC Entertainment, one rung above Tarses – which could mean she is being edged out. Meanwhile, the network just dismissed its VP of drama, Stephen Tao, and around 50 other employees are expected to be cut loose as a result of the merger.