Josh Wolk
September 24, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

CASTING Kramer’s back, but sans the hair. Michael Richards is planning a new sitcom, in which he plays a Clouseau-like bumbling detective, which could air on NBC as soon as this spring. The show has a great pedigree, considering that he’s teaming up with three former ”Seinfeld” writers. Just as long as they’re not the ones who wrote the finale…. Judi Dench and Ian Holm are teaming for the HBO movie ”The Last of the Blonde Bombshells,” about a widow who tries to cheer herself up by reuniting her swing band from the 1940s.

NABBED First ”Universal Soldier: The Return” bombs, and now this: Jean-Claude Van Damme was arrested for drunk driving at 3:40 Friday morning in West Hollywood. Since bad things happen in threes, can a groin pull be very far away? Oh, the horror!

REGIS IS BACK! It’s official: ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” is returning for November sweeps on ABC. It will air for a full hour on Sundays, Mondays, and Saturdays, and a half hour the rest of the week. Who Wants to Burn Out?

MEMENTOS It’s nice to see that Stephen King has maintained his sense of creepiness after his accident. King has purchased for $1,500 the Dodge Caravan minivan that slammed into him while he was walking on a Maine road. ”I’m going to take a sledgehammer and beat… it!” he told the Bridgton News. Oh, sure, that’s all well and good until the car gets pissed and comes back gunning for him. Doesn’t this man read his own books?

SYNERGY AT WORK Disney is not one to waste its hits: Lifetime, a cable network of which Disney owns half, will now rerun each episode of ”Once and Again” — the new drama (on the Mouse-owned ABC) that scored impressive ratings on its Tuesday-night debut. The second showing will be Fridays at 11 p.m., three days after the first run. And just to make sure that absolutely no one else sees any cash from the deal, it turns out that ”Once and Again” is produced by Touchstone Television, and three guesses as to who owns that studio….

SHOOT! Can’t get enough dribbling in your life? Have we got a network for you: The NBA is launching a new all-basketball channel called TV, which will feature all hoops, all the time. The new network, which will be launched on Nov.2 and will be available only through digital services like DirecTV and Viewer’s Choice, will feature basketball games, news, interviews, classic matchups, and even movies about basketball. (Finally! A network with the courage to air ”The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.”) The NBA promises that things won’t get slow in the off-season, pledging to air WNBA games and foreign-league contests, so diehard hoopsters can keep up with the nail-biting tension as Albania takes on Turkey. It’s fan-tastic!

OUT OF THE FRYING PAN Andy Rooney should stick to rambling on about Post-It notes. In a column this week he caused quite the controversy when he made a blind reference to a famous newscaster who had plastic surgery, saying that ”THE most beautiful… woman in television news had a job done on herself a few years ago and, while she doesn’t look bad, she does not look the same or as good to me as when she had what must have seemed to her to be shortcomings…. She looks as if she had been in a minor automobile accident.” That’s all the New York tabloids needed to start speculating in print who he was referring to: Diane Sawyer? Maria Shriver? Connie Chung? But Rooney has tried to stop the gossiping by announcing that he didn’t really have anyone in mind, and that he was ”writing metaphorically.” Trying to make amends to Sawyer, who most papers had assumed he was writing about, he said, ”Diane is… not only one of the great people in television but she’s one of the good people, too. She’s as smart as she is beautiful.” That’s all well and good but we still suspect he was talking about Morley Safer having collagen lip implants.

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