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Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Martin step in to help David Letterman

Plus, Hilary Swank, Val Kilmer, the ”X-Files”’ Lone Gunmen, Rosie O’Donnell, and more

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Jerry Seinfeld
Courtesy NBC

LETTERMAN WATCH Rumors have popped up that David Letterman will be back at his desk job on Feb. 14, but in a press conference call, his executive producer Rob Burnett says that no decision has been made yet; they haven’t canceled any guests for that week, but they will make the final call on Monday. Meanwhile, the show is doing something different for next week; each night will feature favorite guests interviewing other old faithfuls about their most memorable segments, and then the pieces themselves will be shown. Next week’s roster includes Charles Grodin and Regis Philbin talking to Jerry Seinfeld, Danny DeVito, Bill Cosby and Julia Roberts. Other nights Paul Shaffer will interview Steve Martin and Bruce Willis from L.A.

CASTING Hilary Swank (”Boys Don’t Cry”) may take the lead in ”The Affair of the Necklace,” playing an 18th-century French woman who — in her search to find her biological parents — ends up getting entwined in a plot to take down Marie Antoinette. THAT’S what ”Time of Your Life” is missing: beheadings!… Cuba Gooding Jr. may be the first actor to come aboard the big-budget ”Pearl Harbor,” with Kevin Costner also considering a part.

NEW-SHOW WATCH Chris Carter and three of his ”X-Files” cowriters are developing a spin-off pilot around the Lone Gunmen, according to Variety. Although still mysterious (the script hasn’t been finished), the show will have a more comic tone than its predecessor. A fourth Gunman will be added — a beautiful woman that the original trio will drool over…. ”Jesse” will vanish from its plum post-”Friends” slot for six weeks starting on March 23; NBC will give its place to the new sitcom ”Daddio,” about a husband who stays home and takes care of the kids. If the print ads don’t involve a picture of the main character wearing a frilly apron and holding a screaming kid, I’ll eat my press kit.

BACK ON STAGE Rosie O’Donnell is returning to her old stomping grounds: The Tony Awards podium. After taking last year off, she’ll be back hosting on June 4, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Her 1997 appearance kicked the ratings up 48 percent, although her next year’s ratings were 12 percent lower. Last year, when she wasn’t there, the show’s ratings dipped another 17 percent.

GAME-SHOW COMBAT ”Twenty-One” gave away the biggest single prize in game-show history ($1,120,000) on Wednesday, but ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” swooped in and made the peacock program look like a nickel-and-dime operation. ABC scheduled an additional night of ”Millionaire” opposite the NBC contest, and ended up with triple its audience — Regis drew 28.39 million viewers, while ”Twenty-One” attracted only 8.38 million. Puny Povich, bow to the power of Philbin!

SPACE BUMP It’s just too damn hot to spend the summer on Mars. At least that’s what Warner Bros. thinks, bumping its outer-space adventure ”Red Planet” (with Val Kilmer and Benjamin Bratt) from a June 16 opening to Nov. 10. This is the film’s second postponement: Originally it was set to premiere March 31, but the studio decided that was too close to the opening of Disney’s Martian chronicle, ”Mission to Mars,” and pushed it to summer. A WB publicist told Variety that the movie’s release was always tentative, because it was unclear when the special effects would be done. In space, no one can hear you waffle.

REEL DEAL The ”Being John Malkovich” directing/writing team of Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman are reuniting for ”Adaptation.” The Columbia flick is based on the nonfiction book ”The Orchid Thief,” about a quartet who try to clone fake orchids and sell them to collectors. Should be a wake-up call to all those who think chlorophyll peddling is a victimless crime.

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