Josh Wolk
October 18, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

OUT OF RETIREMENT The Who‘s upcoming charity shows in Chicago may be just the first step in a longer-lasting reunion. Roger Daltrey told Reuters that Pete Townshend was working on new songs that could potentially become a new Who album that would be released next May. ”We can’t say we’re definitely going to make a new album, because if it turns out to be rubbish we won’t release it,” said the singer cautiously. If the new CD does make it, the band would embark on a summer tour, and probably amend their famous lyric to ”Hope I die before I get really REALLY old.”

UNDER PROTECTION British police were waiting for Madonna when she and her daughter stepped off the Concorde in London on Sunday. No, they weren’t there to give her the Diana Ross treatment: An unidentified man had reportedly phoned in a threat to Heathrow airport against the singer, and the police officers escorted her from the gate into her waiting limousine.

BIDDING If ABC ends up bumping ”NYPD Blue” from its Tuesday time slot — a potential plan that has enraged creator Steven Bochco — NBC would step in to pick it up. NBC Entertainment president Garth Ancier told CNN that he would gladly give up his 10 p.m. Tuesday slot (now occupied by ”Dateline NBC”) for ”Blue” so fans won’t have to rearrange their schedules. No word on how Stone Phillips would feel about being bumped for Rick Schroder’s ass.

BIG DEAL Last week Disney announced its deal with ”Sixth Sense” writer/director M. Night Shyamalan to make his next movie — the supernatural drama ”Unbreakable” with Bruce Willis — but now the details of his payday have emerged, and it’s clear just how grateful the studio is for ”Sense.” Variety reports that Shyamalan will be paid $5 million for his script alone (and another $5 million to direct), making this the most expensive screenplay in history. The last cash-happy record-holder was Shane Black, who was paid $4 million by New Line for ”The Last Kiss Goodnight,” which was turned into a bomb. Perhaps no one at Disney has heard the phrase ”cautionary tale.”

CASTING Russell Crowe (”Mystery, Alaska”) will fall in love with Meg Ryan in ”Proof of Life,” complicated by the fact that he’s a hostage negotiator trying to free her husband…. Anne Heche will play an Army officer who shoots her lover-turned-stalker in the Showtime based-on-fact TV-movie ”One Kill”…. If you thought Dominique Swain got a walking tour of the dark side in ”Lolita,” wait until her next film, ”Tart.” She joins Bijou Phillips (”Sugar Town”) and Brad Renfro (”Apt Pupil”) in this tale of 1980s New York club kids.

MORE BLASTS FROM THE MUSICAL PAST Pink Floyd is celebrating the 20th anniversary of ”The Wall” with two projects, according to MTV News: Next month will see the release of a DVD version of the 1982 film adaptation, complete with an old 25-minute making-of documentary, and a new 45-minute interview special with the cast and filmmakers. Then on Dec. 1 the band will release a live album recorded during its infamous ’79 ”Wall” stage show that was only performed in New York, Los Angeles, and London…. Axl Rose has purged most of the original lineup from Guns N’ Roses, but there’s a bright spot on the horizon if you’re nostalgic for the screechfests of old: Next month will see the release of ”Live Era ’87-93,” a live CD from the band’s glory days.

BEHIND THE CAMERA Barry Levinson will be taking on politics again for a new HBO movie, but you won’t find any ”Wag the Dog” laughs. ”The Path to War” will dramatize how the Vietnam war escalated by using the recently declassified White House tapes of President Lyndon Johnson as source material. Entire sections from the recordings have been directly transposed into the screenplay.

FALL SEASON WATCH Just because new shows debut later than usual doesn’t mean that the stench of cancellation can’t gather around them earlier than usual: ABC’s ”Wasteland” and Fox’s ”Ryan Caulfield: Year One” and ”Harsh Realm” have showed such dismal numbers in their opening weeks that the scheduling vultures are already reportedly circling. But on the bright side of TV, the fledgling dramas ”Family Law,” ”Judging Amy,” and ”The West Wing” have all been extended to full-season orders.

BIRTH Lucy Lawless, 31, and her ”Xena”-exec-producer-husband Rob Tapert, 44, have welcomed a baby boy: Julius Robert Bay Tapert was born on Saturday in New Zealand at 8 pounds, 13 ounces. And that’s not counting the baby chain mail.

RECOVERED Yo-Yo Ma accidentally left his $2.5 million Stradivarius cello in the trunk of a New York cab Saturday, and luckily police were able to track down the driver and retrieve his instrument three hours later. ”I made a stupid mistake and just left without it,” Ma told Reuters. ”Somehow, magic happened and I got my cello back.” It’s a moral victory for uncouth guys everywhere, knowing that even fancy-pants classical musicians can be scatterbrains.

SPLIT ”Angel”’s David Boreanaz has filed for divorce from his wife of two years, Ingrid Quinn. Looks like someone saw ”The Story of Us” this weekend.

LAWSUIT The widow of Sammy Davis Jr. has sued Las Vegas’ Desert Inn for its ”Rat Pack” revue, which features performers impersonating Frank, Sammy, Dean, and Joey. Altovise Davis maintains that the hotel is wrongfully using her husband’s likeness to advertise the show. Less than a month ago, a licensing company hired by Frank Sinatra’s kids to control his image filed a similar suit against the Inn. No sign of a suit from Bishop, who may just be angry that he got passed up for a role playing himself in favor of an impersonator.

OBITUARY Storyteller Jean Shepherd died Saturday a the age of 78. Shepherd began his career weaving humorous tales based on his Indiana childhood over the airwaves of New York’s WOR radio. He also published his stories in magazines and books, and his work was the basis for the 1983 classic movie, ”A Christmas Story.”

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