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Melanie Griffith enters a Los Angeles rehab program

Plus, Spielberg is the most bankable director, Backstreet Boys will tour the world, Madonna plays the MTV Europe Awards, and more

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Melanie Griffith
Griffith: Steve Granitz

HOSPITALIZED Actress Melanie Griffith (a.k.a. Mrs. Antonio Banderas) has checked into a Los Angeles hospital’s drug program to treat an addiction to prescription drugs, her publicist announced Tuesday. According to Reuters, Griffith, 43, has been in rehab before for drugs and alcohol abuse in the 1980s. ”My doctor has referred me to the Daniel Freeman Hospital to step down from the prescribed medication that I have been taking for a neck injury,” Griffith said through a statement. ”I appreciate everyone’s concern and I am sure you will respect my and my family’s privacy.”

NAMED A Hollywood Reporter survey has named Steven Spielberg the world’s most bankable director. The industrywide survey, which was given to showbiz execs, ranked 800 directors and directing teams based on their name’s ability to get movies greenlit, obtain financing, and draw in crowds, according to results released on Tuesday. With 6 of the top 25 box office blockbusters on his résumé, Spielberg must’ve been an obvious choice for No. 1. The directors rounding out the top 10 are: James Cameron; George Lucas; Ron Howard; Tim Burton; Martin Scorsese; John Woo; Ridley Scott; Robert Zemeckis; and Michael Bay. The highest ranked female on the list is Jodie Foster (No. 51); the top African American is Spike Lee (No. 76).

TOURS The Backstreet Boys kick off a six continent promotional tour tomorrow night, when they will perform at MTV’s Europe Awards in Stockholm, Sweden. On Friday morning, the boys (Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean, and Kevin Richardson) will leave on their chartered jet plane for Tokyo. Then it’s on to Sydney, Australia; Capetown, South Africa; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and finally New York, New York. Called ”Around the World in 100 Hours,” the world’s highest selling group will reportedly spend 55 hours flying and 45 hours on land giving press conferences and performing their new single, ”Shape of My Heart,” to plug their upcoming fourth album, ”Black and Blue.”

AWARDS Speaking of MTV, the network has rounded up a who’s who of the music industry in hopes of attracting a global audience to the 2000 MTV Europe Awards. Joining BSB on the international broadcast are Madonna, U2, Ricky Martin, and Robbie Williams. Bonus: Jennifer Lopez will premiere her new single, ”Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” on the show.

CASTING Snoop Dogg is in talks to star in John Singleton‘s coming of age drama ”Baby Boy” for Columbia Pictures. Production starts next month with R&B singer Tyrese playing the title character, Jody, a teenage father who refuses to work, lives with his mom, cheats on his baby’s mother, and is otherwise completely irresponsible. Actors Omar Gooding (Cuba’s little brother), Taraji Henson, and Ving Rhames have signed on to costar…. Guy Pearce (”Rules of Engagement”) is in final talks to star in ”The Time Machine,” a new film adaptation of English novelist H.G. Wells’ Darwinian 1895 book. ”The Prince of Egypt” director Simon Wells, who’s H.G.’s great grandson, will make his live action debut with the DreamWorks/ Warner Bros. production. The new version has a lot to live up to: MGM’s 1960 picture won an Oscar for special effects. (Then again, the last Wells adaptation was ”The Island of Dr. Moreau.”)…

CASTING, PART II ”Primal Fear” costars Laura Linney and Richard Gere may reteam in the sci fi drama ”The Mothman Prophecies.” Mark Pellington (”Arlington Road”) will direct the Sony Screen Gems film, which revolves around a reporter (Gere) sent to a West Virginia town to investigate some bizarre, supernatural events…. ”Girl, Interrupted” costar Britanny Murphy has signed on to the Michael Douglas drama ”Don’t Say a Word,” directed by Gary Fleder (”Kiss the Girls”). Scheduled to start production next month, ”Word,” based on Andrew Klavan’s 1992 novel, follows a New York psychiatrist (Douglas) who must treat an unstable patient (Murphy) to figure out how to free his kidnapped daughter.

REEL DEAL Chuck Russell, who directed this year’s ”Bless the Child” and 1994’s Jim Carrey comedy ”The Mask,” is in negotiations to make a ”Mummy Returns” spinoff called ”The Scorpion King.” Starring WWF wrestler the Rock, né Dwayne Johnson, ”Scorpion” will explain how the Rock’s chraracter in ”The Mummy Returns” (due out in May 2001) became evil. Universal Pictures expects to release ”Scorpion” in time for Christmas 2001 or summer 2002.

HONORED In an industry where a five year marriage is considered golden, this couple is truly a rarity. Ossie Davis and wife Ruby Dee will receive the next lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actor’s Guild. Married for 52 years, Davis and Dee met during a 1946 Broadway production and went on to make joint feature debuts in 1950’s ”No Way Out.” Most recently known for their on screen collaborations with Spike Lee (”Do The Right Thing,” ”Jungle Fever”), Davis and Dee are dedicated social activists who participated in Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic 1963 March on Washington. The union’s annual awards ceremony will be held on March 11 in Los Angeles.

UNCONVENTIONAL HONOR After a career spent writing about dinosaurs, Michael Crichton finally gets something better than royalty checks: a species of dinosaur named after him. Talk about humility: Dong Zhiming, a Beijing paleontologist, chose to name the dinosaur species he identified after Crichton. (The best sellers ”Jurassic Park” and ”The Lost World” are very popular in China.) At a ceremony at North Carolina’s Museum of Natural Sciences yesterday, Dong presented casts of skull bones from the new species to Crichton. Its official moniker: Crichton’s ankylosaur. Crichton told the AP: ”For a person like me, this is much better than an Academy Award.”

ENCORE Opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti has offered to perform an encore concert for ticketholders who attended a subpar show on Saturday night. More than 5,000 people paid between $80 and $1,000 per ticket to attend the tenor’s sold out show at the Trump Taj Majal in Atlantic City, only to find Pavarotti battling a cold. A date for the follow up concert has not yet been set. That’s okay, Luci, even world renowned tenors get sore throats.

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