REEL DEALS Steven Spielberg will produce a miniseries adaptation of Stephen King and Peter Straub‘s cowritten 1984 novel ”The Talisman” for ABC. Unlike other recent King miniseries ”The Shining” and ”Storm of the Century,” this one’s teleplay will not be written by King, who is still recuperating from being struck by a van earlier this summer…. Action go-to man John Woo will direct ”Dirty 30,” about a retired cop who investigates when his gang-member brother is accused of killing an officer…. Joe Mantegna (”Things Change”) will make his directing debut with a script by his old Chicago crony David Mamet. ”Lakeboat” is a comedy about a high-minded grad student who decides to work on a freighter.
GIVE ME BACK MY NAME! Leonardo DiCaprio has won his legal battle in Germany to force an ice cream parlor to change its name from DiCaprio. Does this mean it will have to go back to its old name, Der Judd Nelson Parlor?
GAME-SHOW WINNER Maybe the Regis Philbin game show ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” should change its name to ”Who Wants to Fact-Check?” In an episode taped Wednesday to air on Thursday night, contestant David Honea was knocked out of the running when he answered that Lake Huron was the second-largest of the Great Lakes; the answer the judges were looking for was Michigan. Honea protested when the show was over, and after several hours of research, the ”Millionaire” staff realized that he was right, technically, since Michigan has the second-largest volume, while Huron has the second-largest surface area. In the game, a contestant answers each question for an increased amount of cash until he either gets one wrong or reaches $1 million; Honea was at the $64,000 level when the mix-up occurred. He will now return on Aug. 29 , to appear on the last episode of the show’s run.
CASTING In her continuing attempt to sign up for every movie in the free world, Helen Hunt has committed to produce and star in ”Nice,” a black comedy about a woman too kindhearted to break up with her many boyfriends, so she decides to kill them instead…. Joely Richardson (”101 Dalmatians”) has been signed to play Mel Gibson’s wife in the Revolutionary War drama ”The Patriot”…. Maria Bello (”ER”) will play a tough-talking bar owner who employs a struggling musician in New York in ”Coyote Ugly.”
WINNERS TAKE ALL DMX was named Best Artist and Best Live Performer at the Source Hip-Hop Music Awards Wednesday night. (The taped ceremony will be broadcast on UPN Friday night at 8 p.m.) And since it’s a crime to have an awards show and not give Lauryn Hill anything, she won Best Album and Best New Artist.
TWICE ROCKING Everclear will release two albums next year with very differing sounds. Art Alexakis told MTV News that the March release will have the band’s usual poppier sound, while the July album will be heavier rock than their fans are probably used to. Alexakis had originally been working on a solo album, but he decided to use two of his songs for the good of the band, and they will appear on the first release.
FEELING FINES Helicopter pilot Robert Butler, who flew dangerously low over Barbra Streisand and James Brolin‘s wedding on July 1, 1998, was fined $500 and grounded for 30 days after pleading no contest to disturbing the peace. He was also put on probation for two years and must perform 100 hours of community service. While there were a total of 15 helicopters carrying paparazzi buzzing over the ceremony, Butler’s was the only one that zipped below the legal limit of 500 feet over the gathering…. ”Moesha”’s Lamont Bentley has been fined $450 for disorderly conduct for loudly arguing with Milwaukee police after an Aug. 1 celebrity basketball game that the 25-year-old actor sponsored.
OBITUARY Charles Macaulay, who played Raymond Burr’s winless prosecutorial foil in the ”Perry Mason” TV movies of the 1980s and ’90s, died last Friday, at the age of 72, of cancer.