Tom Cruise, ''Dark Justice,'' and Neil Young made headlines this week

Mario Van Peebles will enter the ring in October to star in and direct Golden Gloves, described as a boxing variation of The Color of Money. Van Peebles wants no less than Sidney Poitier for the mentor/trainer role.

Is Tom Cruise self-conscious about his vocal timbre? He has taken the unprecedented step of promoting a new sound-recording process, and sources say it all stems from the actor’s concern that his voice quality was on the thin side in his last two movies, 1988’s Rain Man and last summer’s Days of Thunder. Before starting the tentatively titled Far and Away (costarring his wife, Nicole Kidman, and directed by Ron Howard), Cruise effectively lobbied for the new sound system, Clearsound, which was created by Golden Era Productions — the Church of Scientology’s audiovisual wing. Cruise, not coincidentally, is a member of the L. Ron Hubbard-founded church.

Ramy Zada is out as the lead of CBS’ late-night show Dark Justice. When CBS finds out, it will probably say it was just a contract dispute, but the truth is that the show was too much of an ensemble for Zada’s taste, a source says. The producers are currently negotiating with Michael Woods (Private Eye) and Parker Stevenson (Baywatch, The Hardy Boys) to take on the role of Nick, the judge who moonlights as a vigilante.

Hyperion, Disney’s book-publishing arm, has shelled out $150,000 for a book from Kentucky basketball coach Rick Pitino. In Thoroughbreds: A Year in the Life of Kentucky Basketball, Pitino will write about the ’91-’92 season, the team’s first after a two-year probation from the NCAA championships. Hyperion has also signed veteran Miami Herald crime reporter Edna Buchanan to a two-book deal. Her new mystery series will feature a crime reporter for a Miami paper; the first, Contents Under Pressure, is due in the fall of ’92.

Who would want to buy an entire CD of guitar feedback? In the eyes of Neil Young, at least 25,000 of you. In October, Young will release a live two-CD set, Weld, recorded during his 1991 tour with Crazy Horse. At the same time, he’ll issue a limited-edition three-CD set, Arc Weld — the complete Weld album plus an extra 35-minute CD that strings together stretches of drawn-out amplifier noise from songs recorded in concert. A spokesman for Young said Arc Weld is simply ”something to rattle people.”

Written by: Leonard Klady, Alan Carter, Tina Jordan, David Browne