Bill Murray backs out of ''Charlie's Angels'' | EW.com

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Bill Murray backs out of ''Charlie's Angels''

Plus, Arista Records, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Brandy, Kevin Smith, Stephen King, National Book Award winners, and more

Bill Murray

MILLION-DOLLAR BILL Murray's out of the lineup for the upcoming big-screen treatment of ''Angels'' (Steve Granitz)

CASTING PROBLEMS The revolving door that is the ”Charlie’s Angels” cast continues to spin: Bill Murray – who was being wooed to play Bosley in the movie update – has walked away from the project after asking for $1 million more than producers wanted to pay, according to Variety. Meanwhile, producer/star Drew Barrymore continues to search for a third Angel to join her and Cameron Diaz after Thandie Newton backed out. (”Ally McBeal”’s Lucy Liu is reportedly the front-runner.) If all of this trouble is telling Barrymore anything, she doesn’t seem to be listening.

SPLIT Tim Allen’s wife Laura Deibel has filed for a legal separation after more than 15 years of marriage. She cited the standard ”irreconcilable differences,” and asked for custody of their 9-year-old daughter, Katherine.

SHAKE-UP Phone calls and e-mails were flying around the record industry yesterday in the wake of rumors that Clive Davis, president of Arista Records, may be replaced by L.A. Reid, president of Arista’s Atlanta-based subsidiary LaFace Records. Arista is making record-breaking sales right now with hits by Santana and Whitney Houston, but Arista’s German parent company BMG Music mandates retirement for top executives at age 60 and requires that a succession plan be put in place before retirement. Davis is 66 and has yet to name a successor. According to the New York Daily News, Reid, whose label is home to chart toppers like TLC and Toni Braxton, was approached about succeeding Davis by BMG president Strauss Zelnick two weeks ago. Reid’s only public comment, reported in the New York Post, is that he has talked with Zelnick about moving to New York, where Arista is based. As for Davis, he issued a statement yesterday saying, ”I would like to make it clear that I have no plans whatsoever to retire.” More to come….

CASTING Jennifer Love Hewitt will star in and produce a movie version of the 1960s comic book that featured ”Bunny,” a college student by day/superspy by night. But with Hewitt in the lead, we can be sure these divergent alter egos will have one thing in common: A really tight shirt.

RECOVERING Brandy left the southern California hospital Saturday where she was admitted on Nov. 11 for what was reportedly ”dehydration,” and is home recuperating, according to MTV News. ”She is back home, doing great, and will be spending the Thanksgiving holiday with her family,” wrote her spokesperson in the perkiest statement ever. ”She is taking a couple of weeks off to do the things that any normal young woman would be doing, after which she will resume her usual active schedule”…. ”Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz is recovering after undergoing emergency surgery Wednesday to unblock an abdominal artery. Schulz will remain in California’s Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for about a week, but is ”resting comfortably and doing fine,” according to his spokesman.

REEL DEAL Writer/director Kevin Smith and his longtime producer Scott Mosier have re-upped with Miramax for another three-year production deal. (Their current film, ”Dogma,” was distributed by Lions Gate in the wake of protests by a religious group against Disney, Miramax’s parent company.) All should go well as long as the duo’s next film isn’t called ”Buddha’s a Big Pansy.”

BACK AT THE WORD PROCESSOR After his accident, Stephen King is easing back into writing half-time, collaborating with Peter Straub on a sequel to their 1984 novel, ”The Talisman.” ”Our intention is to make the story a little harder and darker than the first book,” said Straub. ”More horror than fantasy.” The book is scheduled for release in 2001.

TV DEALS CBS has signed sitcom-development deals with three African-American comedians. President Leslie Moonves insists that this is not a conciliatory gesture addressed at the boycott the NAACP is considering in response to the lack of minorities in network shows. ”There wasn’t any conscious effort not to [develop black-themed comedies] last year versus doing it this year,” Moonves told Variety. ”We had talent in play, and we made those deals.” The talent in play includes: ”Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper”’s Mark Curry; Steve Harvey (whose WB self-titled sitcom is in its last year); and Duane Martin (”Getting Personal”).

SMILE… AND DUCK! The Latin music explosion has brought cultures together in one important way: Now celebrities from a variety of countries can go nuts with the U.S. paparazzi. Mexican singer Alejandro Fernandez (who had Billboard’s No. 1 Latin album last year) has been accused of choking a photographer in Miami Beach, according to the Associated Press. A Miami television station was there to videotape the free-for-all, in which Fernandez’s date allegedly punched the shutterbug’s pregnant wife in the stomach. (Fernandez had no comment.) But the attack wasn’t as much of a downer as the Johnny Depp fracas: Fernandez’s Spanish profanity gave this whole event a more festive, Cinco de Mayo feel.

OBITUARY Author Paul Bowles, who used North Africa as a setting for such acclaimed novels as ”The Sheltering Sky,” died Thursday in Tangiers, where he had lived a reclusive life for many years. Bowles, 88, had been in the hospital since Nov. 7 with cardiac trouble.

AWARDED Ha Jin won the National Book Award for fiction Wednesday night for his novel ”Waiting,” the tale of a doctor in the Chinese army who spends 18 years waiting out his arranged marriage before taking up with the nurse he loves. In the nonfiction category, John W. Dower took the prize for ”Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II.”

SETTLED Three years after the Olympic bombing, exonerated suspect Richard Jewell is still working to clear his name: He just received a $5,000 settlement from ABC for his libel suit against WABC radio host Lionel, who had made comments about Jewell being the bomber, according to the Associated Press. This is Jewell’s fourth settlement – he’s already wrapped up cases against CNN and NBC TV as well as his former employer Piedmont College – and he still has one suit pending against the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.