DRAWING THE LINE Fox Television Entertainment Group chairman Sandy Grushow has announced that the ”Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?” debacle has made him decide that the network will no longer produce the kind of extreme ”reality specials” that have become Fox’s trademark, according to the New York Times. ”They’re gone, they’re over,” said Grushow about such eye-grabbers as ”When Animals Attack” and ”World’s Scariest Police Shootouts.” He said that the network had relied on these high-rated specials because its series were weak, but that now it would undergo a ”paradigm shift” and concentrate on ”quality entertainment series.” Unfortunately, right now Fox is very low on quality entertainment series, what with ”Beverly Hills, 90210” going and ”Party of Five” and ”The X-Files” also possibly on their way out, so it’s going to take a lot of restraint not to throw on the occasional truck smashing.
SPLIT Alas, the romance is gone from Nicolas Cage and Patricia Arquette’s couplehood: Cage reportedly filed for divorce yesterday after nearly five years of marriage. Strangely enough, though, his petition says that the couple has been separated since Jan. 10, 1996, which seems to amount to only nine months of actual wedded bliss.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT ”Britney Spears CD Bubble Gum” will hit stores in March (to coincide with the singer’s new album), with a flat piece of gum being sold in a CD case. (A portion of the proceeds will go to charity.) After all, there’s nothing better for an artist of questionable longevity to link herself to than a candy that loses its taste relatively quickly! Bravo, marketers!
CASTING In a plot description that it’s best not to think too hard about, Will Smith may star in ”Phone Booth” as an ordinary guy who randomly picks up a pay phone and ends up getting pursued by a sniper because of it. It probably made sense at the pitch meeting…. Rachael Leigh Cook (”She’s All That”) will star in ”Conspiracy,” a thriller about a love triangle gone wrong – an isosceles love triangle, the most volatile of them all!… Penelope Cruz, who seems to have rendered Salma Hayek old hat when it comes to Spanish roles, will join Nicolas Cage in the WWII romance ”Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”…. Yasmine Bleeth will be leaving ”Nash Bridges” at the end of this season, but since TV cannot exist without a little dose of Bleeth, next year she may join Aaron Spelling’s new NBC nighttime soap, ”Titans,” playing the trophy wife of an aging airline mogul.
EXPECTING According to Britain’s Daily Mirror, Kate Winslet is pregnant with her first child, which is due in September.
GETTING A RAISE A little public whining can go a long way: After complaining on ”The Late Show” that he was underpaid, Regis Philbin is now reportedly finalizing a deal with Buena Vista Productions (which owns ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”) that could give him an annual salary of $20 million, according to the Hollywood Reporter. His reps had no comment, possibly stunned into silence by their impending bonuses.
COURT LOSERS The Spice Girls lost the lawsuit they filed against Italian scooter maker Aprilia SpA – which manufactured a Sonic Spice scooter that bombed after Geri Halliwell left the group in 1998 – and must now pay $1.6 million in damages and court costs, according to Reuters. Aprilia claimed that the Girls knew that Geri might be leaving the group when they signed the endorsement deal but didn’t tell the company, and in testimony Emma ”Baby Spice” Bunton said that Geri had told the rest of the Girls that she was going, but at the time they didn’t believe her. After all, who would be crazy enough to leave a group that was going to have a scooter named after it?
REEL DEALS The great superhero film rush continues: According to the Hollywood Reporter, Oliver Stone is once again considering making the new ”Superman” movie, and Chuck Russell (”Eraser”) is developing ”Dr. Strange” for Columbia…. Michael Mann (”The Insider”) is developing a Howard Hughes biopic for New Line to star Leonardo DiCaprio, which he’ll likely tackle after his Muhammad Ali biopic with Will Smith. What’s the matter, Mann, don’t have the guts to make up characters?