Smith: Steve Granitz/Retna
Lori Reese
October 23, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

REEL DEAL Will Smith will have his dream role after all. But he may have to pitch in for the costs. After several exhausting rounds, director Michael Mann has reached an agreement with Columbia Pictures execs over his biopic about Muhammad Ali, according to Variety. Last week, the flick was nearly knocked out completely when Mann told Columbia that he might exceed his $106 million budget. A compromise was reached when ”The Insider” helmer agreed to shorten the shooting schedule and have principle participants (himself, producer Jon Peters, and Smith) cover a percentage of costs that run over the budget. The studio declined to comment on the new deal. We’re so glad Smith’s newly pumped pecs won’t go to waste.

BIZ The longest strike in Hollywood history may have finally reached an end. Commercial actors’ unions and advertisers reached a tentative contract agreement late last night that would end the six month impasse. If the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio endorse the deal this weekend, actors could be back to work as early as Oct. 30, reports USA Today. This surely means service will decline in restaurants throughout the country.

AILING Liza Minnelli is reportedly suffering from encephalitis, a potentially terminal disease of the brain. According to the New York Post, The 54 year old actress was rushed to the hospital last Thursday after her bodyguard/ chauffeur found her suffering from what appeared to be a stroke, reports the New York Post. She has been in and out of the hospital several times this year…. Actress/ model Lauren Hutton (”American Gigolo”) is in serious condition after a motorcycle crash Saturday. Hutton was participating in a 100 mile ride to celebrate the opening of the Hermitage Guggenheim museum in Las Vegas when her bike ran off the road. A medical team traveling with the group treated her before taking her to the hospital.

STAGE Here’s something really scary. Stephen King is collaborating with none other than John Mellencamp on a musical they hope will someday see Broadway, Billboard reports. The play is about two young brothers ”who are very competitive and dislike each other immensely,” Mellencamp said. Their dad takes them to a cabin in the woods where his older brothers — who also loathed one another — killed themselves. But the Mellancamp songs are the spooky part.

PAIRINGS Thanks to Britain’s the Sun we can rest easy knowing that Liz Hurley has found a new beau to replace Hugh Grant. The tabloid splashed photos of the ”Bedazzled” star kissing her new boyfriend, writer/ director Steve Bing (”Married… With Children”) at an Elton John concert in New York on Saturday. Or maybe she was just looking for a little distraction.

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