CASTING Brad Pitt, who’s currently starring in the grim and grizzly ”Fight Club,” is in final negotiations to star in the Warner Bros. drama ”Urban Townies.” According to Variety, ”Urban Townies” would mark the big-screen directorial debut of music-video director Mark Romanek, who has worked with Nine Inch Nails, Madonna, and Michael Jackson. The film follows a young affluent man who moves to Chicago to become a writer and to get away from his shallow socialite parents. So far, no leading lady has been wooed to star opposite Pitt…. ”A Walk on the Moon”’s hunky Viggo Mortensen is in talks to quickly replace Stuart Townsend (”Wonderland”) in New Line Cinema’s ”Lord of the Rings,” which is currently one week into principal photography. New Line hasn’t confirmed why Townsend, who played Strider/Aragorn, left the film, but Variety says sources believe he and director Peter Jackson weren’t getting along.
BEASTIE NEWS The Beastie Boys are planning to issue a two-disc, 42-track compilation entitled ”The Sounds Of Science” on Nov. 23. The anthology will include select tracks from all five of the band’s studio albums, a few hard-to-find B-sides, a new song ”Alive,” and a couple of surprise extras.
TV WATCH Mark Harmon broke the obscenity barrier last night on CBS’s ”Chicago Hope.” Harmon, who plays Dr. Jack McNeil on the David E. Kelley-drama, said ”sh– happens” when he is asked to explain why a popular young baseball player’s arm had to be amputated. CBS execs and ”Chicago Hope”’s producers made a collaborative plea to the censorship board to keep the word in the show. ”This is an isolated incident. It’s not a sign or signal that CBS is loosening its standards,” said CBS spokesman Chris Ender to the Associated Press. Too bad. We were all looking forward to colorful expletives on ”Touched by an Angel” and ”Diagnosis Murder.”
CONCERT ALERT Metallica is going to release an ”S&M” album. Before you get out your riding whip, ”S&M” stands for ”Symphony & Metallica,” a live album of Metallica’s shows with the San Francisco Symphony. To promote ”S&M,” the band has scheduled two more orchestra-backed concerts. One will be at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Nov. 23, the day the album is released. The other concert is a few days earlier, Nov. 19, at the Velodrome in Berlin, Germany.
HONORED Arthur Miller was awarded the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for 50 years of contributions to American literature. Miller, 83, whose masterpieces include the Pulitzer-prizewinning play ”Death of a Salesman,” was given a silver medal and a $200,000 cash prize. The Gish award was established in 1994 with a bequest from Lillian Gish’s estate.
BACK TO WORK Bob Barker will return to work as host of ”The Price Is Right” on Oct. 25. After a month of recuperating from his unexpected surgery in Washington, D.C., Barker announced he feels fine and looks forward to getting back to the game show he loves. The show shot on Oct. 25 will air Nov. 19 on CBS.
BROADWAY BULLETIN Broadway vet Mandy Patinkin will return to the Great White Way for ”The Wild Party” (a musical about a Fatty Arbucklesque comedian who throws one last shindig in hopes of saving his career), which opens at the Virginia Theater next April. Based on a Jazz Age poem by Joseph Moncure March, ”Party” will also star Toni Collette and Eartha Kitt. The Patinkin-starring musical, which was a feature film in 1975 starring Raquel Welch, is the second production of ”Party” scheduled for the 2000 season. Another adaptation will star Taye Diggs (”The Best Man”) and will be staged Off Broadway at the Manhattan Theater Club in February.