HE’S OUT Steven Spielberg won’t be making the Harry Potter movie that Warner Bros. wants for a summer 2001 release, and now the studio is considering its alternate list, which includes Jonathan Demme, Rob Reiner, and Tim Robbins. After mulling over the project, Spielberg said in a statement that ”I have every certainty that the series of ‘Harry Potter’ movies will be phenomenally successful…. However, at this time, my directorial interests are taking me in another direction. Most importantly, I look forward to reading the fourth ‘Harry Potter’ book this summer and taking my family to see the first movie next summer.” Whew! He’s a major movie mogul and he STILL finds time to read a book and see a movie every summer. He is not a man, he is a Superman!
THE DREAM DIES In a harsh blow for romantics everywhere, those two lucky newlyweds from the ”Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire” show don’t look like they’re going to follow the dream of growing old together. Groom Rick Rockwell (he of the alleged 1991 restraining order) told ”Dateline NBC” that on their honeymoon, the two never consummated the marriage and are probably headed for an annulment. He once again stressed that he had never hit a woman, but did concede that he’s not above a casual death threat, saying, ”Have you ever gotten to the point where someone has pushed your buttons and you say, ‘I’ll kill you.’ That’s what it was…. I’m not proud of it.” Meanwhile, his blushing bride seems to be blushing a little brighter these days, telling ”Good Morning America” that maybe getting hitched to a man she just met wasn’t the brightest idea. ”I don’t think I was thinking clearly,” said Darva Conger. ”I committed an error in judgment.” Hurrah for understatements!
RATINGS WIN See? Something good CAN come out of heart surgery. David Letterman’s Monday night return got his highest ratings since his first two CBS shows in 1993 (not counting his Olympic broadcasts), with 19 million viewers tuning in. This trumped Jay Leno’s ratings that night by 98 percent in the top markets. Leno likely rebounded last night against what will be affectionately known as the Bill Cosby guest-host train wreck.
CASTING Will Smith will star in a sequel to ”Men in Black”… sort of. He’ll reteam with Rip Torn to shoot segments that will be shown on monitors during Universal Studios’ new ”Men in Black Alien Attack” ride, which opens in April…. Jodie Foster will play a one-legged nun in ”The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys,” which she will also produce. The drama is about a group of Catholic high school friends who plan a robbery to make them infamous…. Lauren Holly has joined Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt in ”What Women Want,” a comedy about a male chauvinist who can read women’s minds…. Wes Bentley (”American Beauty”) may revive Tom Cruise’s role as the Vampire Lestat in an adaptation of Anne Rice’s ”Queen of the Damned.” The Anne Rice public hissy fit should begin in T minus 10 and counting.
REEL DEALS Barry Sonnenfeld will direct an adaptation of Dave Barry’s best-selling novel ”Big Trouble”…. Meanwhile, Michael Mann (”The Insider”) has taken over one of Sonnenfeld’s abandoned projects: The Muhammad Ali biopic starring Will Smith, which will start shooting this summer. No word yet on who will pick up one of Mann’s rejects to continue the turnaround circle of life.
IN COURT Jay-Z pleaded not guilty in his arraignment yesterday on assault charges for allegedly stabbing rap exec Lance ”Un” Rivera in New York on Dec. 1. The rapper is out on bail, according to MTV, and his next court appearance will be March 29.
STUNT GONE WRONG A stuntman who struck his head while setting up a maneuver last Wednesday for UPN’s ”I Dare You” fell into a coma and died after being taken off life support on Saturday. Brady Michaels was planning to paraglide from the top of one moving train to another, but last week he was simply climbing down the ladder from the top of a stationary car during some prep work, lost his grip, and fell 15 feet, hitting his head on some rocks, according to Variety. While sending out his condolences, the show’s producer, Bruce Nash, says that the tragedy had nothing to do with the safety of the show. ”This was an unfortunate accident that could have happened on the set of a sitcom,” he said.
EMCEE CHOICE Making sure that the Miss America Pageant will remain delightfully out of touch, Donny and Marie Osmond have been selected as hosts this year. ”You can’t help but get caught up in the excitement and enthusiasm at the pageant,” said Marie, who is being paid to be caught up in the excitement and enthusiasm. You, on the other hand, are free to do what you want.