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FLASHES

PAUL'S EPISTLE: Where does a hot stand-up comic with a successful sitcom go next? These days, it's to the best-seller list. Bantam Books has announced plans for Mad About You's Paul Reiser to pen his life and times for a tome due this fall. ''They came to me and said, 'We'd love you to write a book,''' says Reiser. ''I said, 'What do I know about books?' Then they showed me this huge pile of cash and I said, 'A book-of course! I know how to write a book.''' Like Jerry Seinfeld's Seinlanguage (also Bantam), which has been on the best-seller list for more than 20 weeks, Reiser's manuscript will weave material from his stand-up act and his NBC sitcom. With the format decided, there's only one little problem left. The title. ''How about Rei-language?'' jokes Reiser, adding, ''I don't have a name yet, but I feel good, because I don't have a text, either.'' -Frank Spotnitz 1-900-EY: When you need help for your role as a South American woman who can see into the future, who you gonna call? The House of the Spirits star Meryl Streep immediately phoned Postcards From the Edge costar and past-lives promoter Shirley MacLaine. Streep wanted MacLaine to put her in touch with a psychic, but the connection never happened. A spokesman for MacLaine insists Shirley never got Meryl's message. ''Meryl and Shirley are friends-it would have been easy for Shirley to give her recommendations,'' he says. ''For that matter, I could have given her 20 names.'' Perhaps next time Streep should just call Dionne Warwick's Psychic Friends Network. -Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

CHEAP THRILLS: The scene: the New York premiere of I'll Do Anything. The player: QVC chairman and Paramount suitor Barry Diller. After the movie, the home-shopping honcho approaches the concession stand-where Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, and Kline's very pregnant wife, Phoebe Cates, are downing soda and popcorn-smiles and asks the publicist, ''Is it free?'' Guess working at QVC is rubbing off. -Jessica Shaw

DEAN SPIRIT: Live fast, die young, and leave a trail of dueling biopics. That's the true legacy of James Dean, who will be the focus of two films scheduled to coincide with the 40th anniversary of his death. James Dean: An American Legend is an independent production by first-time feature director Alan Hauge, and has been officially sanctioned by Dean's estate. ''It's the only authorized version,'' says Hauge, who will cast an unknown in the title role. But the indie faces stiff competition from Warner Bros.' James Dean, directed by Michael Mann (The Last of the Mohicans). Warner is the studio where Dean made Giant, Rebel Without a Cause, and East of Eden. And in Mann's film, who will play the coolest actor who ever lived? The studio had no comment, but the contenders reportedly include Johnny Depp, Gary Oldman, and Brad Pitt (though a spokeswoman says Pitt has turned it down). Uh, may we suggest Luke Perry? -Pat H. Broeske

deepest regrets: His recent show at Chicago's Rosemont Horizon was such a fiasco, Michael Bolton has been issuing mea culpas-personally. The singer is expressing regret over the gig, which started two hours late and got cut short before the encore. When Bolton's label, Columbia, received angry letters and calls, ''it was devastating to me,'' says Bolton. The answer? Reach out and apologize to the fans who wrote in. ''I'm sitting at home,'' says Michele Stockman, 33, a customer service rep whose husband bought her two tickets for Christmas, ''and suddenly the phone rings and this voice says, 'Hi, Michele. It's Michael Bolton.''' Bolton says he has at least a dozen more calls to make. ''I'm going to get every one of them,'' he vows. ''I don't want to be misunderstood. I get enough bulls -- - from the critics.'' -Cindy Pearlman, Jeff Gordinier

Originally posted Feb 18, 1994 Published in issue #210-211 Feb 18, 1994 Order article reprints