The hottest news in TV, film, books and music the week of Sept. 4, 1992

BY ANY OTHER NAME Comedian Paul Reiser kicked around hundreds of titles for his NBC sitcom debuting Sept. 23, costarring Helen Hunt. ”The worst was Paul and Chain — like ball and chain,” Reiser says. ”Finally we said, what the hell is the difference? We came close to calling the show What the Hell Is the Difference?” They finally settled on Mad About You….

EXTREME REACTION: Club Med is very tightly wound up over a TV ad promoting ABC’s new series Going to Extremes, airing Sept. 1, about a group of medical students on a fictional Caribbean island. The Extremes spot calls the show ”the antibiotic for civilization” — a play on Club Med’s 11-year-old slogan, ”The Antidote for Civilization.” Last month, Club Med fired off a letter to ABC threatening legal action, but the network calls the claim ”without merit.” Club Med is waiting to hear from ABC lawyers before deciding on the next move…..

FROM RUSSIA WITH BLOOD: Director Menahem Golan plans to shoot his modernized version of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment in Russia early next year. Jon Voight plays Police Inspector Petrovich; the murderous student hero, Raskolnikov, is not cast yet. Says Golan, ”What Dostoyevsky wrote about 100 years ago is happening today. Our student will find his country in the midst of great changes.” And if you’re thinking that C&P will never get off the board, remember: That’s what they said about the Salkinds’ Christopher Columbus….

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Safe sex is a theme in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, the book series often interpreted as an allegory of gay life before AIDS. Rice’s vampire Lestat, hero of her latest, The Tale of the Body Thief, becomes a mortal; but when he tries to have sex, his female partner screams, ”I said wait! You can’t do it without a condom.” He does it anyway….

MURDER MERGER: Word is that New Line Cinema, which owns the rights to A Nightmare on Elm Street, has bought Paramount’s rights to Friday the 13th. The plan is to pit Nightmare’s Freddy, who theoretically is dead, against Friday’s Jason. No comment from New Line….

BOOKWORM BOMBSHELL: Having launched her career at 21 as an unnamed objet of Woody Allen’s lust in 1980’s Stardust Memories, Sharon Stone will get better billing (plus $2.5 million) this fall to play an editor plagued by voyeuristic neighbors in Sliver. Stone has been sighted doing research in Random House’s New York offices.