HEALTH WATCH Fans of ”7th Heaven” are sending their prayers heavenward for Barry Watson. The 28-year-old actor, who plays the pastoral Camden clan’s eldest son Matt on the WB’s most popular series, has Hodgkin’s disease, a form of lymphatic cancer. ”He begins treatment this week, and both he and his doctors are extremely optimistic about a full recovery,” his publicist said in a statement, adding that the doctors believe the disease is ”95 percent curable.” There were no details about his current condition or the nature of his treatment.
Watson just finished his sixth season on the show with a wedding between Matt and fiancée Sarah after a whirlwind courtship. Like costar Jessica Biel, he’d been chafing at the wholesome show for some time, and he had not planned to return this fall. He has a burgeoning movie career (including a starring role in this spring’s ”Sorority Boys,” a cameo as himself in last winter’s ”Ocean’s Eleven,” and a role in the upcoming thriller ”Shearer’s Breakfast”). ”Heaven” producers had hoped he would return for a few episodes this fall, but now it’s not clear if he will be able or willing to do so….
After decades of pratfalls, Jerry Lewis had been enduring such extensive back pain that he had a device implanted last month that blocks the pain by sending electrical impulses to his spine. ”His whole goal is to be pain-free and medication-free,” said a spokeswoman for Las Vegas’ Orleans Hotel and Casino, where Lewis is under a long-term contract. He recently told the Las Vegas Sun newspaper that, not only is he pain-free for the first time in 30 years, but he can also use the device to ”open my garage door.” Lewis was hospitalized overnight on Monday in Vegas for what the spokeswoman termed a routine follow-up to the implantation surgery. The 76-year-old is next scheduled to perform there in October. Meanwhile, he’s planning a June trip to Belgium for a lifetime achievement award, preparing for his annual Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy telethon and writing a memoir about his years with Dean Martin, a period soon to be the subject of a made-for-TV movie in which ”Will & Grace”’s Sean Hayes will play Lewis.
SOUND BITES Break out the tie-dyes, and get ready for the closest you’ll ever get to a Grateful Dead reunion. It’s a two-day concert called ”Terrapin Station: A Grateful Dead Family Reunion,” and it will mark the first time since Jerry Garcia‘s death in 1995 that surviving bandmates Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh, and Bill Kreutzmann have performed on stage together. (All four have played in the post-Dead band The Other Ones at various times, but not all at once.) ”We started rehearsing this week and I’m excited. This is going to be very, very good,” Lesh said in a statement. The festival, which will also feature performances by each musician’s own group and other jam-band favorites (Disco Biscuits, Warren Haynes, Jorma Kaukonen) will be held August 3 and 4 in East Troy, Wisconsin.