SURVIVOR NEWS Prosecutors in Providence, R.I., dropped a second degree child abuse charge against Richard Hatch Monday. The ”Survivor” winner had been accused of grabbing his 9 year old son by the neck in April, shortly after returning from his 39 days shooting the game show on the South China Sea. No explanation has been given for the dismissal, and according to the Associated Press, the Rhode Island attorney general’s office cannot comment on the case, because of ongoing legal issues. Hatch, who has filed suit against both the state’s child welfare agency and his hometown in Middletown for wrongful arrest and defamation, said the fact the charges were dropped proves his constitutional rights were violated…. Looks like Rudy Boesch took EW.com’s advice and will reportedly appear on ”JAG,” CBS’ drama about the Navy’s Judge Advocate General, this coming season. For more about the ”Survivor” gang’s gigs, check out our complete ”Survivor Wrap-Up”…. ”Survivor II” may be too rich for the Army. The nine commercial sponsors that advertised during the inaugural ”Survivor” had to pay only $4 million for the 13 episode series. But now that the show has become a ratings leviathan (and since the first episode is scheduled to run after the Super Bowl, Jan. 28, 2001), CBS has tripled the opening price for ad packages to $12 million, or $500,000 to $600,000 for a 30 second spot. According to Monday’s Ad Age, none of the original advertisers — including Reebok, Ericsson, the U.S. Army, and Visa — have signed on for the sequel.
REEL DEAL Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, are teaming up to produce ”My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” a movie based on Second City veteran Nia Vardalos‘ one-woman show, set to start shooting Sept. 11 for Lions Gate Films. Wilson, who is Greek, reportedly saw the play in 1998 and got Hanks interested in buying the film rights. Vardalos wrote the script and will star in the autobiographical comedy, about a single Greek American woman who must convince her family to accept her fiancé, ”the Whitest man on the planet.” ”My Big Fat Greek Wedding” — now that that title’s taken, what will the Jennifer Aniston story be called?… Penelope Spheeris (”The Decline of Western Civilization”) has signed on to direct Dimension’s dark comedy ”Closers,” going into preproduction in the fall. Based on a script from Monica Johnson (”The Muse”) and Josh Stolberg, ”Closers” is about a lovesick guy who employs a secret company to help his crush fall in love with him. Right after he pays the covert agency, he witnesses the woman’s boyfriend getting run over by a bus. Now THERE’S a story to tell the grandkids.
CASTING Dermot Mulroney (NOT Dylan McDermott) will join Glenn Close, Patricia Clarkson, and Timothy Olyphant in the ensemble indie ”The Safety of Objects.” Based on stories about suburban families by author A.M. Homes, ”Objects” will be directed by Rose Troche (”Go Fish”). Shooting starts Sept. 23 in Toronto…. Milla Jovovich (”The Messenger”) will star opposite comic actors Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in ”Zoolander,” which Stiller is producing and directing. Based on a character Stiller developed for the VH1 Fashion Awards, the Paramount comedy chronicles the life of Derek Zoolander, a washed up supermodel brainwashed into killing the president of Malaysia. Jovovich will play Katinka, the dominatrix in charge of recruiting and brainwashing male fashion models. Stiller a supermodel? They’ll need to brainwash the audience to buy that one…. Swedish actress Lena Olin and newcomer Marguerite Moreau are in talks to join Aaliyah and Stuart Townsend in the Anne Rice adaptation ”Queen of the Damned.” A Warner Bros./ Village Roadshow Production, ”Damned” follows the vampire Lestat (Townsend) during his stint as a rock star whose music awakens the vampire queen Akasha (Aaliyah). Moreau would play a vampire hunter who falls for Lestat, and Olin would take on Moreau’s ”vampy” aunt. Didn’t we see that on ”Buffy” already?
LEGAL BRIEFS Sarah McLachlan won a ruling yesterday that forces a Canadian record producer who unsuccessfully sued her to pay 60 percent of her legal fees. A British Columbia Supreme Court judge ordered Darryl Neudorf to pay nearly C$250,000 to McLachlan, because he rejected an offer from the pop singer to settle his dispute out of court. According to Reuters, Neudorf took McLachlan to court last December, claiming he deserved credit for four songs on the singer’s ”Touch” album, released in 1988. The suit was dismissed, and Neudorf filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. News about the ruling was posted last week on the court’s website.
TUBE WATCH The ”Band” goes on: ABC plans to order more episodes of the ratings challenged reality series ”Making the Band.” Although the Friday night program, which follows five members of hit maker Lou Pearlman’s newest boy band O-Town, garnered mediocre numbers this summer, ”Band” has reportedly developed key followers within the network hierarchy. The latest marketing ploy to attract viewers? The boys will appear on the soap ”All My Children” on Sept. 18. We have a better idea: Drop the O-Towners onto a desert island, let them vote each other off till there’s one guy left, and — now here’s the twist — give the winner a solo record deal. ”Band” will continue airing at least into next month, until the network makes its final decision.
MEMORIALIZED Jackie Gleason was honored yesterday with an 8 foot, half ton bronze statue of his ”Honeymooners” character, Ralph Kramden, unveiled in front of New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal. In case you’ve skipped the years of ”Honeymooners” reruns, here’s a clue: Gleason, who died in 1987, infamously played a New York bus driver in the 1950s sitcom. TV Land, which airs the black and white classic, sponsored the statue with Gleason’s estate and the Port Authority.
HOSPITALIZED Academy Award winning actor Maximillian Schell (”Judgment at Nuremberg”) was flown to a hospital in Munich, Germany, Sunday for acute inflammation of the pancreas that occurred during a visit to Riga, Latvia. Schell, 69, was in particular danger because he has diabetes which had already destroyed part of his pancreas, according to AP reports. In Riga to receive the best actor of the millennium award at the annual Baltijas Perle Film Festival, Schell is now at the Munich University Hospital undergoing evaluation and possible surgery.