FREE MUSIC No, this isn’t an item about Napster. Sting has agreed to perform gratis in New York City’s Central Park on September 12. Like Paul Simon, Sheryl Crow, and Garth Brooks before him, Sting will sing on the Great Lawn thanks to a corporate sponsor (this time it’s Best Buy). The company shelled out the city’s $1 million fee, which will go to the NY Parks Dept. for youth programs and to First Night, the citywide alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration. Before you load up the van and head for Manhattan, though, there’s some bad news: tickets are required, and only 25,000 will be provided.
WEDDING BELLS? Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones plan to marry on September 30 (five days after the bride turns 31 and the groom 56) in a 78-acre beachfront Santa Barbara estate. According to Britain’s Sun newspaper, the new parents of baby Dylan, born Aug. 9, will wed at the Bacara Resort and Spa, which boasts an 11,300 sq.ft. ballroom and a private beach. And if you haven’t received your invitation yet, you probably never will.
CASTING Who gives a who? Anthony Hopkins does, because he’s agreed to narrate Ron Howard‘s live-action version of ”Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” a role the great late Boris Karloff held in the original 1966 TV classic. ”Grinch” is due in theaters November 17.
BACK ON TOP Oprah is queen of syndication once again. ”The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which was second to ”The Jerry Springer Show” last year, reclaimed her reign of the syndicated charts with the 1999-2000 season. Nielsen reports that the talk-show empress earned an average 6.2 national household rating, 2 points more than ”Springer,” which plunged 34 percent from last year’s high to 4.2 this season. ”Live! With Regis & Kathie Lee” came in third with 3.6 points, up from 3.0 the previous year. ”Rosie O’Donnell” lost 3 percent of its viewers and ”Maury” grew 13 percent to tie for fourth place with 3.5 points. ”Montel Williams” rounded out the top five with 3.3, down 8 percent.
RATINGS REVIEW UPN scored its highest numbers of the summer with its broadcast of ”The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards,” bringing 5.3 million viewers to the network Tuesday night. That may not mean anything to CBS, which drew 10 times that number for ”Survivor,” but it’s Nielsen gold for UPN, which reaches an average audience of 1.8 million on summer nights. The taping was stopped last week after a fight broke out, but new scenes were later added to make the show two hours long. Rapper Mos Def opened the telecast with a taped message asking viewers not to condemn rap music because of the much-publicized violence: ”It wouldn’t be fair to cast aspersion on an entire cultural movement based on the actions of a few,” he said.
AWARDS ALERT On September 9, actor Danny Glover will MC a tribute to Walt Disney at the National Inventors Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony. Glover is qualified for the job, having appeared in two Disney movies, ”Angels in the Outfield” and ”Operation Dumbo Drop.” The Nat’l Inventors are honoring Disney for his 1940 patent of a special animation camera, which he used to film ”Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Created in 1973, the Hall of Fame includes many posthumous inductees, including Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, and Henry Ford.
TUBE WATCH Richard Dreyfuss is the latest screen actor to sign a TV deal. The Oscar winner inked a seven-figure pact with CBS to develop and star in a series for the 2001-2002 season. Dreyfuss, who appeared on CBS in the April live production ”Fail Safe,” has yet to decide whether to create a drama or a sitcom…. Fox has reshuffled its Friday night schedule. The network decided to push ”Night Visions,” the anthology thriller hosted by rocker Henry Rollins, to a midseason slot and will replace it with the new drama ”Freakylinks” at 9 p.m. and the reality anchor ”Police Videos” at 8 p.m. Variety reports that Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman said, ”Rather than jeopardize two promising shows, we elected instead to launch Fridays with an established property with a proven track record in the time period.”