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Entertainment news for the week of August 23

Michael J. Fox, David Schwimmer, and Aidan Quinn made the news this week

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Back to ”Back”: This fall, Tuesday night will be family feud night — if you’re a member of Back to the Future‘s McFly clan. Marty McFly, a.k.a. Michael J. Fox, will star in the new ABC sitcom Spin City at 9:30 p.m. Pitted against him on NBC is Caroline in the City, which stars Fox’s movie mom, Lorraine McFly, better known as Lea Thompson. For fans of the 1985 film, it’s a scheduling conflict even Doc Brown couldn’t resolve. ”It’s one of those things about television where a product is created not only to inspire and entertain the viewer but also to destroy something else,” says Fox of going mano a mama. ”I’m not real comfortable with that mind-set, so I try not to think about it.” The newly coiffed Thompson, however, says that in Hollywood ”there’s room for everybody. I had a feeling they would put him opposite my show — that’s their best slot.” But, she adds, ”he’s my son, so I can’t feel that competitive.” If only CBS gave Crispin Glover — i.e., George McFly — a sitcom. Then we’d unravel some real family ties.

Stars Crossed: Money isn’t everything. Friends‘ David Schwimmer has other worries, too. Specifically, the TV romance between the show’s requited lovers: his hangdog Ross and Jennifer Aniston’s peppy Rachel. ”They should break up,” says Schwimmer. ”What I would like to see happen is that reality sets in, and Ross realizes that Rachel doesn’t really know who she is or what she wants to do with her life.” Fans will have to wait for the Sept. 19 season premiere to find out whether he’ll be there for her. In the meantime, Schwimmer has been keeping busy on the Chicago set of his directorial debut, Dogwater, about a group of, uh, friends attending their 10-year high school reunion. ”It’s a low-budget movie,” says Schwimmer of the Miramax project due in 1997, ”but what we lack in money we’re making up for in enthusiasm.” Now, there’s a plot a network could love.

Freeze Frames: Not even ice cream is safe from Hollywood’s clutches. Scan the 31 flavors at your neighborhood Baskin-Robbins these days, and you’ll find the ”Somebody Stop Me” Twist, a pineapple-and-sour-apple ice tied to the Mask cartoon series. The entertainment-based concoctions — which in the past have included Red, White, and Boo! (Casper) and Little Bear Crunch (The Indian in the Cupboard) — are the handiwork of the ice cream company’s ”flavor committee,” 15 execs who meet twice a month to consider suggestions submitted by franchise owners and customers and to choose flavors for entertainment tie-ins. Tune in next March for a flavor pegged to Jim Carrey’s Liar, Liar. ”We heard Steven Spielberg loved the Casper flavor when we sent it over to Amblin,” says Baskin-Robbins spokeswoman Judy Karlin. ”So I’m sure we’ll be sending plenty to Jim.”

— Scott Maiko

The Unmighty Quinn: When Aidan Quinn and Liam Neeson journeyed to Ireland last summer to shoot Michael Collins, Neil Jordan’s October epic about the controversial IRA founder, they met with ample enthusiasm from the Irish — sometimes too much enthusiasm. During a scene where Neeson (who plays Collins) is shepherded by Quinn (who plays a fellow revolutionary) through a seething mob, Quinn encountered a rather motivated group of local extras. ”We had some big, burly Irish army soldiers who were playing the British, and they decided to knock me over in every take,” he says. ”It got a little bit out of control. They were supposed to just pretend to knock me over, but I was getting bashed and kicked.” Quinn soon discovered the source of their zeal. ”There was a pub on the corner,” he explains, ”so between each take they were downing a couple of pints.” Talk about Method acting.

— Jeff Gordinier