DEALS Only weeks after renewing her King World contract to host her top-rated talk show for at least two years and signing with Capital Cities/ABC to host a series of prime-time specials, Oprah Winfrey, 41, has inked a five-year deal with Walt Disney Co. to produce and act in movies. Winfrey said her first project, to be produced by her company, Harpo Films, will be Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller, Beloved, in which she'll also star.... Bye, Dave. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Oct. 31 in Los Angeles that Whoopi Goldberg, 39, will return to host the 68th annual Oscars telecast in March (she emceed in 1994). ''I'm back,'' Goldberg told a press conference, ''and I'm thrilled, honey.''
ARRESTS Alec Baldwin, 37, on Oct. 26 in L.A. after allegedly hitting photographer Alan Zanger, 51, who tried to videotape the actor and his wife, Kim Basinger, 41, as they returned home with their three-day-old daughter, Ireland Eliesse. Baldwin was charged with misdemeanor battery and released on his own recognizance; Zanger was treated for a possible broken nose. ''Anyone with a shred of human decency would understand that there are times in your life when you want your privacy respected, whether you are a public figure or not,'' Baldwin said.... Godfather of Soul James Brown, 67, on Oct. 31 in Aiken, S.C., for allegedly battering his wife, Adrienne, who was treated at the Aiken Regional Medical Center that same day. It was Brown's third arrest for assaulting his wife. He was released from jail in 1991 after serving two years on unrelated assault and weapons charges. Brown, released on $940 bail, will stand trial Nov. 27.
LAWSUITS Paper is flying between Steven Spielberg, 47, and L.A. doughnut maker Denis Hoffman. On Oct. 24, the director sued the cake mogul, claiming he was trying to parlay the $10,000 Hoffman invested in 1968 in Spielberg's debut film, Amblin, ''into a $33 million claim to the fruits of Spielberg's distinguished career.'' Part of the deal, Hoffman says, was that the director would make another film for him within 10 years and he's still waiting. But Spielberg says he bought out the contract in 1977. On Oct. 26, Hoffman countersued for fraud and breach of contract, leading Spielberg's lawyer Marshall Grossman to declare, ''His case is as flaky as his doughnuts.''
DEATHS Actress Mary Wickes, 85, after surgery, on Oct. 29 at UCLA Medical Center. Appearing in film, on TV, and on stage for the past 60 years, Wickes was one of Hollywood's most celebrated sourpusses, winning acclaim for her acerbic secretaries, spinsters, and housekeepers. She appeared in such well-known movies as Now, Voyager and The Music Man. Recent roles included Sister Mary Lazarus in both Sister Act films and Aunt March in last year's Little Women.... Actress Viveca Lindfors, 74, of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, on Oct. 25 in her native Uppsala, Sweden. Lindfors made her U.S. debut in 1948's To the Victor, opposite Dennis Morgan. More recently, she played a scientist in the sci-fi hit Stargate.... Screenwriter Terry Southern, 71, of respiratory failure, on Oct. 29 in New York City (see Legacy, page 77).