Josh Wolk
September 09, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

COMING SOON Kevin Smith’s ”Dogma” has finally found a distributor. Lions Gate Films bought the controversy-plagued film from Miramax after that studio was dissuaded from releasing the religious comedy by its parent company, Disney, which was wary of protests by Catholic groups. The film, starring Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Salma Hayek, and Chris Rock, will open sometime this fall (perfect picketing weather!). Of course, this trumpeted news from Lions Gate comes on the same day that the Hollywood Reporter writes that the struggling Canadian distributor is offering itself up for sale for $80 million. (Lions Gate CEO Frank Giustra denies the report.) Bet Kevin Smith is hoping that Jerry Falwell doesn’t pony up the dough.

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT Ben Affleck set out to debunk rumors that he and Matt Damon are more than just pals. In this month’s Vanity Fair, he says, ”I like to think that if I were gay, I would be out. Rupert Everett-style.” Everett, on the other hand, probably would say that if HE were straight, he’d never have done that cutesy-pie animal-cracker scene with Liv Tyler in ”Armageddon.”

BENEFIT Such rockers as Bono, Wyclef Jean, and David Bowie have teamed with the U.N. to create the website NetAid.org, which provides info on how to help eradicate poverty all over the world. Those currently struggling to get by can log on to read about how to get assistance or to post details of their plight. The site is part of a larger project that will include benefit concerts by its musical supporters, and Jean and Bono have teamed to record a single, ”New Day,” whose proceeds will also go to NetAid. However, just because Bono is teaming with world leaders (President Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Nelson Mandela are vocal supporters) doesn’t mean he’s gone soft. ”We are not going to just hold hands and the poverty is going to go away,” he said. ”I’m suspicious of the warm and fuzzy feeling we have here. If we don’t pull this off it’s just a bunch of technocrats playing Disney World on the Internet.”

RENEWED MTV has opted for another season of ”Loveline,” but Diane Farr has been bounced from the couch. Meanwhile, Adam Carolla will be keeping busy, seeing as Comedy Central has just renewed his ”Man Show” for 26 more episodes.

DUELING VERNES Fox is developing a remake of ”Around the World in 80 Days” and is wooing Stephen Herek (”Mr. Holland’s Opus”) to direct. Warner Bros. also has an ”Around the World” project in the works with Brendan Fraser and his ”Mummy” director, Stephen Sommers, so if Fox wants to beat its rival to the box office, it had better cut its circumnavigation time to 40 days.

THEY’RE BACK Signs of life from Guns ‘N Roses: The long-lost rockers have recorded a new song, ”Oh My God,” for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s upcoming film, ”End of Days” (opening Nov. 24). Of course, ”Roses” is all that’s reminiscent of the ’80s band, since Axl Rose is the only original member left.

BIRTH ”Extra” anchor Maureen O’Boyle gave birth to a baby girl, Keegan, on Tuesday night. Hopefully she made sure ”Entertainment Tonight” didn’t have the exclusive on it.

OBITUARY Blues singer Katie Webster died Sunday of heart failure at the age of 63. Known as the Swamp Boogie Queen for her pounding, two-fisted piano playing, she had toured with Otis Redding up until his 1967 death, and then became a popular blues fixture in the 1980s.

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