NEAR MISS A tiny plane piloted by Patrick Swayze crashed yesterday north of Phoenix, Ariz. He survived unscathed. The ”Ghost” star was en route from Van Nuys, Calif., to Las Vegas, when the Federal Aviation Administration lost sight of his plane on radar, according to officials. The cause for the emergency landing is not yet clear, but the FAA was told it was a pressurization problem. Officials notified local police, who found the actor’s 1978 Cessna on a dirt road, empty and only slightly damaged. Swayze, 47, had apparently abandoned the craft and begun walking. Anything to get to Vegas.
TV NEWS CBS’ experiment in the tawdry realm of reality shows paid off Wednesday night, as ”Survivor” blew away ABC’s ratings monster ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in key demographics. ”Millionaire” still reigned, attracting a total of 16.8 million viewers (2.2 million in the second half hour), compared to ”Survivor”’s 15.5 million. But CBS still won over more of those aged 18 to 49. It was the network’s best showing in the key demo in eight years. (That must’ve been the 1992 episode of ”Matlock” when Ben yelled at the New Kids on the Block for trampling his flower bed.)
ILLNESS Bob Hope was rushed to the hospital yesterday to receive emergency treatment for an intestinal problem. He is reported to be in stable condition, but doctors ordered him to stay overnight in the hospital near his home in Palm Springs, Calif. The comedian, who turned 97 five days ago, had just returned from Washington, D.C., where he opened the Bob Hope Gallery of American Entertainment at the Library of Congress. He also donated some 88,000 pages of comedy from his seven-decade career to the institution.
SUPPED Madonna and her brash beau Guy Ritchie dined with Prince Charles last night at a charity dinner hosted by the prince, according to witnesses. Perhaps His Majesty was trying to solicit Ritchie’s celebrity bodyguard services.
CASTING CALL Warner Bros. posted an ad on the ”Harry Potter” movie’s official website calling for Brits aged 9 to 11 to audition for the roles of Potter and his pals. The ad invites youngsters who ”look like” the J.K. Rowling characters to send in photographs and videotapes of themselves telling a joke. Do they sell Dixie Cups in England?
DVD NEWS MGM is planning to issue a limited rerelease of Rob Reiner’s 1984 cult classic heavy metal mockumentary ”This Is Spinal Tap” on DVD Sept. 12. Bootlegs of Criterion’s out-of-print DVD are fetching upwards of $200 per copy on the Internet. MGM will also rerelease the film in select theaters on Sept. 8.
NAPSTER NEWS The California nouveau punk band the Offspring are selling bootlegged Napster merchandise via their official website. Stickers, baseball caps, and T shirts bearing the company logo are being sold for $1 to $10. The band intends to keep all the profits. Looks like SOMEBODY knows how to make money off Napster.
AWARDS Surprise! ”Being John Malkovich” director Spike Jonze is to be named the year’s Best New Filmmaker at the MTV Movie Awards on Saturday. Jonze has already received numerous MTV Video Music honors for his stylish work with acts like the Beastie Boys, Fatboy Slim and Björk.
CONFESSION Recording industry mogul Joseph Isgro – one of the most influential promoters of the 1980s and an alleged member of the New York Gambino crime family – pled guilty yesterday to conspiracy and extortion charges for running a loan sharking operation in Beverly Hills. Isgro, who also exec produced 1992’s ”Hoffa,” has long been under investigation for everything from conspiracy to distribute cocaine to bribing radio stations to play certain songs. Until now, he has denied all accusations. Authorities say he and his partners extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from their victims. Don’t most moguls just call that marketing?
REEL DEAL ”Big Momma’s House”’s Martin Lawrence is developing a fact-based film ”Petey Greene’s Washington,” based on the life of an ex-con whose humor made him a radio talk show celebrity in D.C. in the 1960s.
DEATHS Soul singer Johnny Taylor, whose 1976 ”Disco Lady” was a classic of the age, died of an apparent heart attack in Duncanville, Tex. He was 62…. Jazz guitarist Joe Puma died after a struggle with cancer in New York. The musician will be remembered both as a stylish soloist and for his work with artists like Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee.