REEL DEALS Chris and Paul Weitz, the producing/directing team behind ”American Pie,” are bringing their sex-filled sensibilities to television. The WB has signed the brothers to develop a new sitcom for the 2000-01 season, which the reigning raunchsters tell Variety will most likely be an autobiographical look at people in their 20s…. HBO is producing a new dramatic miniseries, ”The Corner,” all about a family’s struggle to live on a drug-plagued block. Actor Charles S. Dutton (”Roc”) will direct, and Khandi Alexander (”NewsRadio”) and Sean Nelson (”The Wood”) will star.
OFF THE COUCH After seven years, Andy Richter will leave his sidekick duties on ”Conan O’Brien” next May. He made the announcement of his imminent departure at the end of Wednesday night’s show, although he had discussed it with O’Brien and show producer Jeff Ross back in March. ”What’s happening here is the regular old entrepreneurial urge,” he told the New York Times. ”I sort of need to take this step for my own peace of mind and my own sense of self-worth.” O’Brien told the paper that he wasn’t sure yet what the show would do about replacing Richter, but ”whatever happens, Andy is not going to leave on a Friday and then we have somebody sitting in his chair the next week.” As for Richter, he will be pursuing an acting career. ”My goal in life is to be Ned Beatty,” he said. ”I want to be a comedy character actor.”
RICH, BABY! Thanks to the cashadelic grosses of ”Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” Mike Myers has leaped into the $20 million salary club, with an anticipated two-picture deal with Universal. One of the movies pending is a big-screen version of ”Sprockets,” in which the Teutonic Dieter heads to the U.S. to find his monkey; Myers has already been paid for the script, according to Variety, so the extra $20 mil is like the world’s largest bonus.
CASTING Miramax is mixing up its stable of classy Oscar-bait stars and rockin’ teen stars-in-waiting for the hairdresser black comedy ”Blow Dry.” Rachel Griffiths (”Hilary and Jackie”) and Alan Rickman (”Sense and Sensibility”) are joining Josh Hartnett (”Halloween: H2O”) and Rachael Leigh Cook (”She’s All That”). Something says that lunch breaks will be filled with many awkward silences…. Helen Hunt is poised to join Robert Altman’s gynecologist-in-a-midlife-crisis comedy ”Dr. T. and the Women,” with Richard Gere…. Aidan Quinn has signed to play an early-1900s mountain man who befriends a music professor who heads to Appalachia to research folk songs. No, it’s not inspired by Ted Kaczynski’s deep love of ”Jimmy Crack Corn.”
BEDRIDDEN Merle Haggard has had to back out of his August concert dates after contracting pneumonia. The 62-year-old country star will rest at his California home for three weeks.