HOSPITAL UPDATE Contrary to an emotional announcement by Luciano Pavarotti at a charity concert in Italy, Michael Jackson‘s son, Prince, is not dying. The opera star had told thousands of fans at the show that Jackson, who was scheduled to appear, could not be there because his two-year-old son was terminally ill, and Pavarotti asked the crowd to pray for him. Jackson’s wife, Debbie Rowe Jackson, later said that Prince, who was traveling with his father, ”had a virus infection and is going to be fine.” An executive from Daddy Jackson’s label, Sony, said that the boy had suffered a serious seizure after spiking a high fever, and that it was the third time this year that it had happened to him…. Lenny Kravitz is feeling much better after collapsing Sunday night when he walked backstage 45 minutes into a concert Sunday night with a 103-degree fever. The singer was briefly hospitalized, but he’s doing fine now…. ”Good Morning America” host Charles Gibson underwent an emergency angioplasty this weekend to unblock an artery after he started to suffer chest pains on Saturday. The 56-year-old newsman is recovering quickly, and will return to the show on Thursday.
NETWORKING ”ER” episodes will last longer next season, but unfortunately, it’s not because you’re getting more plot. NBC has announced that it will wedge more commercial time into its top-rated show, which will now air until a little after its normal ending time of 11 p.m. The affiliates, who will now lose some time from their nightly half-hour newscast, are reportedly peeved.
HELPING OUT Sarah Jessica Parker decided to join the search party for a 9-year-old Dayton, Ohio, girl who disappeared while walking her dog on Feb. 7. Parker — a Cincinnati native who responded to a letter pleading for help sent out to all Ohio-bred celebrities — taped a public-service announcement for TV last week asking people to help look for the missing girl.
CASTING Robert De Niro seems to have warmed to comedy after ”Analyze This.” He’s negotiating to star in ”Meet the Parents,” a tale of deranged in-laws who torment their daughter’s fiance…. Jared Leto (”Urban Legend”) and Jake Gyllenhaal (”October Sky”) are teaming for ”A Leonard Cohen Afterworld,” a road-trip movie about two pals who head to Seattle in 1994 to attend the vigil for Kurt Cobain.
REUNION The Bangles are dusting off their Egyptian walking shoes and reuniting for the first time in 10 years to play at the June 25 grand reopening of the Hollywood Bowl. Also serenading the L.A. crowd will be the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, which will play a series of Beatles song while conducted by the Fab Four’s producer, Sir George Martin.
KEEP ON BOND-ING Kevin McClory, the stubborn producer whose deal with Sony to make James Bond movies spurred a lawsuit by longtime Bond-maker MGM that the two studios settled out of court earlier this year, has said that he is still negotiating on his own with film companies in Australia and Germany to remake ”Thunderball.” McClory owns the rights to that 1965 Bond script, and he collaborated on the original project with author Ian Fleming, which he claims gives him the right to use the character in his own movie. McClory told Variety that his reformatted screenplay, which he has titled ”Warhead 2001,” is ”not competing with the shoot-’em-ups which I believe the other Bonds have become.”
REEL DEAL David Zucker and Gil Netter, the team that brought you the ”Naked Gun” movies and, more forgettably, ”BASEketball,” have signed a two-year deal with NBC to develop sitcoms. Zucker promises to have something unique in mind: ”I don’t think you’ll see sofas facing forward and people cracking jokes,” he told Variety.