DONOR CARD Bruce Willis’ three-episode stint on ”Friends” is more than a sweeps stunt for Must See TV. It’s now a good-hearted publicity stunt for Willis. The A-list actor’s publicist announced yesterday that Willis is donating his NBC paycheck (amount undisclosed) to five of his favorite charities: The American Foundation for AIDS Research, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the Rape Treatment Center, and UCLA Unicamp for underprivileged children.
LEGAL BRIEF Dr. Dre and his record label, Aftermath Entertainment, filed suit in U.S. Federal Court in Los Angeles yesterday against the controversial Internet company Napster.com, which allows users to trade and download free MP3 files of musical performances. Dre, who dispatched a warning to Napster early last week giving the company until Friday, April 21, to remove all of his songs from its site, claims Napster is breaking copyright infringement laws and unlawfully using a digital audio interface device. Like Metallica (who share the same lawyer as Dre), the rapper believes Napster is engaging in unmitigated piracy. According to MTV News, Dre released a statement saying: ”I don’t like people stealing my music.” We can now add Dre to the list of musicians who WON’T be joining Limp Bizkit on their Napster-sponsored concert tour.
CASTING Recent Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey is in negotiations with MGM to play Inspector Clouseau in the studio’s remake of the classic ”Pink Panther” films. An MGM spokesperson told Reuters that Spacey hasn’t committed to the part, but that he is in discussions. The role of the bumbling French detective was made famous by British comic genius Peter Sellers, who played Clouseau in five of the eight ”Panther” films from the 1960s and ’70s…. Brad Pitt is in final talks to star opposite his former director Robert Redford (”A River Runs Through It”) in the Universal Pictures thriller ”Spy Game.” An August or September shoot is being slated with Dutch director Mike van Diem at the helm of his first English-language feature. ”Spy” chronicles Redford – a CIA agent - as he tries to devise the rescue of his protégé agent (Pitt), who has been captured by the Chinese…. Oscar winner James Coburn (”Affliction”) has inked a deal to join Rob Lowe in the low-budget thriller ”Proximity.” A $6 million project from action producer Joel Silver (”Romeo Must Die”), ”Proximity” is about a jailbird (Lowe) who must escape prison to run from a covert organization (headed by Coburn) that put a hit on him. The film is set to start shooting in Cleveland, Ohio, in June with director Scott Ziehl (”Broken Vessels”)…. Anne Heche and Michelle Williams (”Dawson’s Creek”) are set to join Christina Ricci in the indie feature ”Prozac Nation.” The $22 million film, based on Elizabeth Wurtzel’s best-selling memoir, should start shooting May 15 in Vancouver, with Norwegian director Erik Skjoldbjaerg (”Insomnia”)…. Barry Pepper (”Saving Private Ryan”) has signed on to star in Billy Crystal’s HBO movie ”61.” Pepper will play New York Yankee Roger Maris. The cable film, which lifelong baseball addict Crystal will direct, follows the competition between Maris and teammate Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane) to break Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1961.
CONCERT WIRE Bon Jovi have scheduled a surprise concert in their home state. Just a few days after announcing an appearance at Chicago’s House of Blues for May 4, New Jersey’s favorite group said they’ll play the Tradewinds, a small beach club in Sea Bright, N.J., on Thursday night. Tickets went on sale this morning at 9 a.m. According to MTV News, Bon Jovi’s label reps don’t know if any other small gigs are in the works. Jon and company are whetting their fans’ appetites for their world tour that kicks off in mid-July. ”Crush,” the group’s latest album, is due out June 13…. Eagles frontman Don Henley is ready to start a two-month North American tour in advance of his first new album in 11 years, ”Inside Job,” which is due out May 23. The 32-date concert tour debuts in Houston May 21 and concludes in Portland, Ore., on July 23. Tickets go on sale this weekend.
TV WATCH ”Sports Night” is getting one last chance to prove itself to ABC. The No. 1 network plans to air a two-part season finale May 9 and 16 in the series’ regular Tuesday night time slot (9:30 p.m.). TV pundits had expected ABC to shelve the show, which was pulled off the schedule on April 4 until after sweeps, but the new plans indicate ”Night” may get renewed after all. Although a final decision won’t be announced until late May, it’s now likelier that ABC will commit to a third year for the sitcom. ”Night”’s return, however, is bad news for mid-season replacement ”Talk to Me,” which will end its run May 2, after only four episodes. That means the Kyra Sedgwick sitcom probably won’t be back. After all, ABC plans a new lineup called: All ”Millionaire,” All the Time…. NBC plans to make a TV movie based on singer Natalie Cole’s life. The still unnamed telefilm will follow Cole, who will play herself, from childhood to her 1991 Grammy wins for ”Unforgettable.” The movie is scheduled to air the same week Cole’s new autobiography, ”Angel on My Shoulder,” hits bookstores, in November. Let’s just hope a digitized Nat King Cole isn’t Natalie’s costar.
TRIBUTE St. Paul, Minn., is preparing a temporary memorial to hometown hero Charles Schulz. The city has proposed a public display of approximately 50 fiberglass Snoopys decorated in different styles. Mayor Norm Coleman’s office has announced that they are also planning a permanent tribute to the ”Peanuts” creator. Ideas reportedly include putting Charlie Brown and the gang on public signs or endowing a chair of illustration at the College of Visual Arts.
BABY NEWS Warren Beatty and Annette Bening have announced their new daughter’s name: Ella Corinne Beatty, according to the Washington Post. She was born April 8, but at the time, the Beattys did not release little Ella’s name. Perhaps they were embarrassed that the Travoltas beat them to the name Ella…. Martial arts star Jet Li (”Romeo Must Die”) and his wife Nina had a little girl in Los Angeles last Wednesday, the couple announced yesterday. Jane, who weighed in at 6 lb. 13 oz., is his third child (Li has two daughters from a previous marriage) and her first.