GONE SMALL SCREEN Steven Spielberg could be returning to directing television for the first time since 1986’s ”Amazing Stories,” and just look at what THAT did for his career. The New York Times reports that he will direct the pilot for ”Semper Fi,” a DreamWorks series bought by NBC that follows a group of young marine recruits through boot camp and special training. Dale Dye, the military adviser who made life miserable for the ”Saving Private Ryan” cast, will be on hand to consult again.
GOOD OPENER Eddie Vedder will be opening up for his idols, The Who, in a benefit gig being held Nov. 13 at the Chicago House of Blues, according to Billboard. The rest of Pearl Jam won’t be involved, though, and Vedder will be backed by the Washington-based C-Average, who backed him up at six solo shows this past summer. If you’re looking for tickets to the show – the proceeds of which go to Maryville Academy, a local charity for disadvantaged youth – you can only get them at Chicago’s House of Blues, starting Saturday morning at 10 a.m.
TO RUN OR NOT TO RUN Warren Beatty sure sounded like he was campaigning for president while accepting an award Wednesday night, but he carefully dodged saying whether or not he wanted to be on the ballot. ”Let them call you coy. Let them call you flirtatious, but keep them talking,” he said. While receiving the Eleanor Roosevelt Award from the Southern California Chapter of the Americans for Democratic Action, he criticized Al Gore and Bill Bradley for being centrists, spoke of the need for abolition of private campaign fundraising, and discussed the need for health and education reform. He did not, however, explain just how directing ”Dick Tracy” qualified him to be Commander in Chief of one of the largest military forces in the world. But I’m sure he’ll get to that.
GAME-SHOW REVIVAL What hath Regis wrought? Paul Reubens (that’s Pee-wee to you) has been signed to host a TV version of the CD-Rom ”You Don’t Know Jack” that’s being pitched to networks. Just as long as he keeps his hands on the buzzer…. The syndicated ”Hollywood Squares” has just been re-upped through 2004 by 40 percent of its stations, a good indication that we’ll be hip-deep in double entendres well into the next century…. CBS has bought the rights to the 1950s game show ”The $64,000 Question” and plans to relaunch it by mid-season. However, the show’s name will be changed in its new incarnation, which begs the $64,000 question: Why bother buying the rights, then?
EARLY TV SHUFFLE Promos for ”The Mike O’Malley Show” may have had a longer life than the show itself. Variety reports that NBC is probably going to yank the sitcom, which has tanked in its first two airings. It was going to be off the air for the next two weeks anyway because of baseball play-offs, and now it looks like man’s man O’Malley might have even more free time to watch these games…. Meanwhile, ABC is keeping all of its shows on its Friday TGIF lineup, but is rearranging them, thanks to dropping ratings. The network’s decision to move ”The Hughleys” to 8 p.m. to lure in an adult audience for the night didn’t work, so that sitcom is shifting to 9:30 while ”Boy Meets World” will take ”The Hughley”’s 8 p.m. slot. Another struggling Friday sitcom, the new ”Odd Man Out” will move to 8:30. If you’re still confused, an ABC rep will be happy to come to your house and highlight your TV Guide, just as long as you promise to watch.
GONE ONLINE If you walk out of ”Three Kings” humming the tunes, don’t bother stopping at your local record store on the way home. Warner Bros. is making the soundtrack available only online at CDNow and MP3.com, and may not put it in stores for months, based on how it cybersells. MP3.com will actually offer two versions of the soundtrack, one with just the music (by the Beach Boys and Public Enemy, among others), and one enhanced CD with an interview with costar Ice Cube as well as two versions of the trailer. Woo-hoo! Twice the hype, and in your very own home, no less!
AILING Dudley Moore has begun to suffer vision problems as a result of contracting the incurable brain disorder called progressive supranuclear palsy, which is related to Parkinson’s disease. The 64-year-old comic actor has maintained his sense of humor, even with the knowledge that this rare illness strikes only one in 100,000 people: In a statement he wrote, ”I am also aware that there are 100,000 of my union, the Screen Actors Guild, who are working every day. I think, therefore, it is in some way considerate of me that I have taken on this disease for myself, thus protecting the remaining 99,999 SAG members from this fate.”
OUT OF THE PAPERS You loved it in three panels, so you’ll love it for 90 minutes: Universal is developing a feature film based on the comic strip ”Zits”, all about the trials of a gawky teen. The project was sparked by a recent deal between the studio and King Features Syndicate to use many of its cartoon characters in the Universal Studios Islands of Adventure theme park, and now the synergy has gone one step further. But hey, if it brings me any closer to my dream of finally seeing ”Wizard of Id” brought to the big screen, I’m all for it. Dare I hope for IMAX?
ON THE ROAD Don’t worry, metalheads, you haven’t been deserted. Megadeth has finally announced a tour to support its latest album, ”Risk,” which came out last month, according to MTV News. The band kicks off a North American trek on Oct. 9 in Phoenix, Ariz., that will continue through November. And after a jaunt down to South America, they’ll return to the States for more shows in March.
REEL DEAL Alexander Payne (”Election”) is planning to write and direct ”Sideways,” a comedy about an actor and writer who head out on a road trip before one gets married. What makes this deal special is that Payne is adapting his screenplay from a novel by a first-time author, Rex Pickett, whose book hasn’t been published or bought by a publisher. And no, that is not an invitation for you to start sending that short story you wrote in high school to Hollywood directors.
OFF TV Johnnie Cochran is leaving his Court TV show, ”Johnnie Cochran Tonight” to do what he does best: Make the law kneel down and beg for mercy. He’s merged his own L.A. offices with a New York firm to create one of the largest personal-injury law offices in the country, thereby ensuring that the neck-brace industry will rival the Internet as the fastest-growing industry in the next millennium.