Tom Cruise: Alan Davidson /All Action/Retna
Gary Susman
June 07, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

LEGAL BRIEFS Another month, another $100 million lawsuit filed by Tom Cruise to squelch assertions that he’s gay. He’s suing Michael Davis, who allegedly sent emails to more than a dozen news organizations offering to sell videotapes that he claimed showed Cruise having sex with another man. Last month, Cruise filed a similar suit against Kyle Bradford, a star of gay porn films, for allegedly claiming in the French magazine Actustar that he had had an affair with Cruise whose discovery by Nicole Kidman led to the breakup of their marriage. Bradford has denied ever meeting Cruise or speaking to the magazine, which reportedly agreed to print a retraction.

While Eminem‘s estranged wife tries to get him to pay more than $2,700 a week in child support, his Detroit colleague Kid Rock is trying to get his ex-girlfriend to cough up $25 a week for their son. The millionaire rap – rocker took Ford Motor Company worker Kelly Russell to court last year, reaching a settlement in October, but his lawyers charge that since then, she has paid only two weeks of child support for their 7 year old son, Robert Ritchie Jr., who lives with his dad. That extra $25 a week should really help buy Kid Jr. a bigger trailer.

TV RERUNS Paging Dr. Lewis… Original ”ER” cast member Sherry Stringfield, who left the series after its third season, will return for the next three, reports Variety. ”I just felt like really working again, and it was the obvious choice for me,” said Stringfield, who shocked showbiz by walking away at the height of her success. ”The only reason I left was I just needed a life and I have absolutely no regrets because I got one. I got married, I had a baby girl in March. And it will be cool to work together with everyone again.” No doubt Dr. Greene (Anthony Edwards) will be happy to see her again, but don’t tell his new wife, Dr. Corday (Alex Kingston).

Also possibly returning to his old show is Michael J. Fox, at least for a cameo. In an interview on ”Access Hollywood,” referring to the scene in the season finale of ”Spin City” where Charlie Sheen goes to Heather Locklear’s apartment and discovers she has company, Fox said, ”Boy, I’m saying more than I really should, but if anybody saw the final episode, when he walks into her apartment, you don’t see what he sees there, so…” More shocking than that, though, is the news that on Saturday, the former Alex P. Keaton turns 40.

David Duchovny, on the other hand, said he will not be back on ”The X-Files,” not even in a cameo. ”I’m done with the TV show,” Duchovny told reporters, while promoting his sci-fi comedy ”Evolution” on Sunday. ”I think to bring back Mulder’s character peripherally is not fair to the character that I feel a lot of affinity for. I feel like the fans respect Mulder as the center of consciousness of the show. And to have him come back like Superman’s dad or whatever — it just feels cheap to me.” He added, ”It’s hard to walk away. I not only miss Mulder, but I miss the show. It’s fun having your own show.” He did not, however, rule out the possibility of appearing in future ”X-Files” movies, ”if they ask me.” Hmm, Fox Mulder, Michael J. Fox — coincidence or conspiracy?

TONY TUNE-OUT Instead of its usual sleepy Sunday night fare, CBS followed ”Touched by an Angel” the other night with a program that featured six male strippers taking it all off, pelvis thrusting transvestites, sex starved old ladies, a woman making a pass at another woman and her husband, and actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow wearing gowns slit down to their navels. And still, the Tony Awards pulled only 3 percent higher ratings than last year’s all time low. Despite the increased star power of the presenters and those risqué excerpts from ”The Full Monty,” ”The Rocky Horror Show,” ”The Producers,” and ”The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” the broadcast reached only 9.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen estimates. Still, it gives this week’s MTV Movie Awards an outrageousness standard to beat.

As if there isn’t enough for the Brooks family to celebrate, Max Brooks, the 29 year old son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, has sold his first screenplay, to Dimension Films. ”More Than Meets the Eye” is a fantasy about kids who are transformed into their favorite action figures. ”I’ve no desire to become the next king of Jewish immigrant comics,” he says, ”but I am so proud of my old man.” Dimension, of course, is a division of Miramax, which is run by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who were among the producers of ”The Producers,” Mel’s Tony trampling triumph.

TOON TROUBLE ”Hello, my name is Dumbo, and I’m an alcoholic.” According to a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, cartoon characters in nearly half of G-rated animated films use alcohol and tobacco, sometimes to excess. The study looked at 81 G-rated feature length theatrically released animated movies, from 1937’s ”Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to 2000’s ”The Tigger Movie,” and timed to the second their depictions of drinking and smoking. ”101 Dalmatians,” for instance, contains a whopping 6 minutes and 27 seconds of tobacco use — no wonder Cruella DeVil likes puppies with black patches.

While fewer recent films show characters smoking or drinking, the study frets that most cartoons do not show kids the long term health consequences of tobacco and alcohol. Other observers worry that seeing a tiny Sherlock Holmes smoking a pipe in ”The Great Mouse Detective” or dogs bellying up to the bar in ”All Dogs Go to Heaven” makes smoking and drinking seem socially acceptable. ”As certain behaviors get portrayed, that seems to normalize them,” said David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family. Guess cartoon dogs should act more like real life dogs and drink from the toilet.

BK BEEF Alec Baldwin and Richard Pryor have sent a letter to Burger King, on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), challenging the company to hold itself to the same animal welfare standards adopted by McDonald’s last year. Burger King says PETA is targeting it unfairly, claiming that its meat suppliers already meet federal and industry standards. Well, if you’re going to slaughter cows and chickens by the millions, you should do it in a nice way.

TEE AND COFFEE Movie groundskeeper Bill Murray and his brothers are opening Murray Bros. Caddyshack, a golf themed restaurant in World Golf Village, Fla., near the World Golf Hall of Fame outside Jacksonville. The eatery is celebrating its grand opening with a charity celebrity golf tournament on Friday, featuring star duffers Tim Meadows, Thomas Gibson, and Luke Wilson, followed by a concert by Emmylou Harris. No word on whether Murray did the landscaping himself, or whether gopher is on the menu, or whether, in lieu of tips, the waiters will receive total consciousness just before they die.

PASSING NOTES Three time Grammy winning songwriter and multiinstrumentalist John Hartford died yesterday at 63 in a Nashville hospital after a decade long battle with cancer. The bluegrass and proto-alt-country musician composed “Gentle on My Mind,” a hit recorded by Glen Campbell and 300 other artists. Hartford performed regularly on Campbell’s and the Smothers Brothers‘ TV shows in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

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