TUBE WATCH Michael J. Fox may have called it quits on ABC’s ”Spin City,” but Time magazine reports that Charlie Sheen could replace him starting next season. ABC and DreamWorks, which owns the sitcom, have been in talks with Sheen about joining the award-winning cast. For Sheen to star in the program, however, the New York-based show will have to move to Los Angeles.
REEL DEAL Tom Cruise and Paramount Pictures optioned the screen rights to Celia Brayfield’s novel ”Heartswap” as a future project for Nicole Kidman. Due for publication in June, ”Heartswap” is about female best friends who agree to test the fidelity of their fiancés by trying to seduce each other’s boyfriend. Paramount and Cruise-Wagner Productions (which the actor owns with partner Paula Wagner) are looking for a screenwriter to adapt the novel, with Kidman in mind for one of the two starring roles…. Veteran comic actor Kevin Kline is ready for his feature-film directorial debut with ”The Palace Thief,” which he will also star in for Fine Line Features. Based on a short story by Ethan Canin, the drama follows the life of a middle-aged prep-school teacher (but no, it’s not a ”Dead Poets” sequel). Kline’s last directing gig was in 1990, when he helmed a New York production of ”Hamlet,” which he also starred in.
CASTING Gwyneth Paltrow and director Tony Scott (”Enemy of the State”) may be teaming up for Warner Bros.’ ”Taking Lives.” Based on a novel by British author Michael Pye, ”Lives” follows a female FBI profiler who must find a serial killer who takes on the identity of his victims. Hey, if the project doesn’t pan out, she can always throw her hat in the ring to play FBI agent Clarice Starling in ”Hannibal”…. Pam Grier, the star of Quentin Tarantino’s ”Jackie Brown,” has signed to act opposite rapper Snoop Dogg in New Line Cinema’s action-drama ”Bones.” Set to start production later this month in Vancouver, ”Bones” is the story of a ghost (Dogg) who seeks revenge against those who killed him 20 years earlier. Grier, who will soon be seen in the kiddy flick ”Snow Day,” will play a clairvoyant who had been the ghost’s girlfriend. No word yet whether Whoopi Goldberg wanted the part.
HOSPITALIZED More than a decade after losing his wife Gilda Radner to cancer, comedian Gene Wilder is also battling the disease. Wilder was treated at Manhattan Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center this weekend to prevent a recurrence of lymphoma. Wilder, 64, who was diagnosed with cancer last year, is an outspoken figure in cancer awareness and is the founder of Gilda’s Club, a New York-based support center for cancer patients and their families. No comment was available from Wilder or his representatives.
CONCERT NEWS Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen performed a benefit concert yesterday at their alma mater, Texas A&M University in College Station, Tex. The concert, which drew approximately 10,000 fans, was organized in honor of the victims of last November’s football-season bonfire accident. All the funds raised will be used for the Bonfire Relief Fund to help offset medical costs to the 27 students injured in the accident.
LEGAL BRIEF The late horror film veteran Boris Karloff’s daughter Sara Karloff is suing Universal for $10 million, claiming that the studio escaped paying her royalties for use of some of her father’s characters, including Ardath Bey and Imhotep from ”The Mummy.” Karloff claims that Universal negotiated a royalty agreement with her, only to change its Karloff-like characters enough to avoid paying her. In her lawsuit, Karloff accuses Universal of breach of contract, fraud, and violation of rights of publicity. Karloff’s lawyer Allan Browne said ”Universal owes a ton of money to Sara Karloff based upon Universal’s wrongful use of Boris Karloff’s image and likeness.” There was no response from the studio.