GETTING OUT? Robert Downey Jr.‘s lawyers have appealed to have the actor freed from prison earlier than slated, according to Variety. Downey, who is serving a three-year sentence for cocaine possession, is eligible for parole on Nov. 2, but his lawyers say the sentencing judge screwed up and didn’t give enough credit for time served, and the actor should have been let free on Feb. 9. The attorney general is expected to respond to the appeal by the end of the week, and if Downey is freed, he’ll be moved to a drug treatment facility, where he probably has the 12-step equivalent of frequent flyer miles.
CASTING So long, indie cred! Parker Posey has joined the cast of ”Josie and the Pussycats.” She won’t be in the band, though: She’ll play an evil record executive, while Rachael Leigh Cook will play Josie, and ”American Pie”’s Tara Reid is in talks to play her drummer…. Dennis Quaid has joined Steven Soderbergh’s drug epic ”Traffic,” playing the lawyer to cartel leader Catherine Zeta-Jones…. Steven Seagal will attempt the comeback no one asked for in ”Exit Wounds,” playing a Serpico-like cop fighting corruption in a tough neighborhood. Joel Silver is producing, and he and the studio have mandated that Seagal — who’s gotten a bit ju-doughy in past years — lose weight for the role. Variety reports that he’s already down 30 pounds but still has more to go before shooting starts in three months…. Jeremy Piven (”Cupid”) has taken the lead in the self-consciously titled CBS sitcom pilot, ”It’s About This Guy.” He’ll play a college professor whose high school crush reenters his life…. Chris Hogan (”Mad TV”) will play Michael Richards’ sidekick in his new NBC detective sitcom.
REEL DEALS Woody Allen has signed a three-picture deal with DreamWorks after ending his relationship with longtime producer Jean Doumanian…. The team behind ”Godzilla” — Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin — are producing ”Arach Attack,” a comic thriller about giant radioactive killer spiders. Unlike ”Godzilla,” this film will be done on a bargain $30 million budget, which the producers of ”Arachnophobia” would still argue is not a wise investment.
ODD ALLIANCE NBC is joining with the WWF for a 50/50 partnership to broadcast and co-own the Federation’s new Xtreme Football League, which is expected to kick off next February. Vince McMahon’s new league will launch with eight teams, and will have slightly different rules than the NFL: There will be a shorter game clock, and the players will be given more or less money depending on whether they win. NBC West Coast president Scott Sassa said the network was encouraged about partnering with McMahon after WWF wrestler the Rock hosted on ”Saturday Night Live” two weeks ago and gave the show its best ratings in six years for young males. Can we expect more pile drivers on ”Frasier” then?
GETTING ANIMATED Jodie Foster and Morgan Freeman will lend their voices to the DreamWorks feature cartoon ”Tusker,” about a herd of elephants crossing Southeast Asia…. And Fox has cast its animated comedy, ”The Ice Age”: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, and Jane Krakowski will play three prehistoric animals — a woolly mammoth, saber-toothed tiger, and giant sloth — who rescue a human baby. Finally, the national outcry for more musical numbers featuring giant sloths has been addressed.
AXED Which is more heretical: Making a show about God, or canceling a show about God? Well, NBC will find out come judgment day, considering the network just pulled ”God, the Devil and Bob” off of its schedule. The show had already been blackballed by 22 affiliates who refused to air it, and many advertisers were shying away too. A first-amendment battle is unlikely, because even the ACLU would agree the show wasn’t funny.
NEW PROJECTS VH1 has announced the addition of five new shows. Three are documentary-type programs: ”Fan,” about die-hard band followers; ”Sound Affects,” covering people who have had their lives changed by one song; and ”VH1 Confidential,” which looks into the legends and myths of rock. Then there’s ”Don’t Quote Me,” a Pop-Up Video show that puts quotes from musicians over their videos, and ”100 Greatest,” a series of specials naming the top songs in categories like love songs, protest songs, etc. But know this, VH1: If all these new shows interfere with the airing of Shania Twain’s ”Behind the Music” three times a week, you will be breaking the hearts and souls of the American people.
SENTENCED A souvenir-stand worker at Woodstock ’99 who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl at the festival has been sentenced to six years in prison, where it most definitely won’t be all peace and love. Timothy Weeden, 26, will serve his time in New York’s Elmira State Prison.