Entertainment News and Notes


SWING SHIFT: The casting of Melrose Place is even more twisted than the plots. As Melrose mavens may recall, Alison (Courtney Thorne-Smith) was stalked last season by Keith (Billy Moses). This season Tracy Nelson guest-stars as Meredith, Alison’s sister. The connection? In real life, Moses and Nelson are Mr. and Mrs. A spokeswoman for the show insists nepotism played no part in hiring Nelson, and the cast is happy she is aboard. ”When Billy was first on the set he used to always talk about how great his wife is,” says Melrose‘s Daphne Zuniga. ”Now we finally got to meet her.” — Jessica Shaw

PLANE TRUTH: Though he plays ace sky diver Ditch Brodie in Terminal Velocity, Charlie Sheen admits he has a fear of heights. In fact, he didn’t take any plunges for the flick. To create the realistic special effects, Sheen was suspended 40 feet above ground in a harness as a wind machine roared, and to / combat the fear, the actor says, he developed a special method. ”In moments of terror when you feel like you’re going to wet yourself,” he says, ”I usually put a song in my head. U2’s ‘One Tree Hill’ was a big one.” The experience, however, did not fill Sheen with any new respect for the sport. ”When you jump out of a plane,” he says, ”that’s like you’re committing suicide.” — Stephen Schaefer

QUESTION LARK: ”Kenneth, what’s the frequency?” became an instant catchphrase in the late ’80s. Now, thanks to R.E.M., the oddball query is a hit of another kind. A reference to the 1986 incident in which CBS anchorman Dan Rather was hit in the face by a stranger who repeated the question over and over, the phrase forms the title of R.E.M.’s first single off their latest album, Monster. Why now, eight years later? ”It remains the premier unsolved American surrealist act of the 20th century,” explains lead singer Michael Stipe, debatably. ”It’s a misunderstanding that was scarily random, media hyped, and just plain bizarre.” Fortunately, the tune doesn’t conjure up bad memories for the victim. ”I’ve heard the song, I like it,” says Rather. ”Tune in to R.E.M., Kenneth.” — Daneet Steffens

MANIC MUD-DAY: Chalk up another show-stopping performance for Green Day. Fresh from its abbreviated mudslinging stint at Woodstock, the band gave a free concert on Sept. 9 in Boston that ended prematurely in about 30 arrests, 50 injuries, and close to $20,000 in damages to the area around the city’s Hatch Shell. Officials unplugged the band 25 minutes into its set after the moshing crowd of 65,000 overwhelmed stage barricades. Angered by the show’s cancellation, fans refused to disperse and scuffled with police, hurling beer bottles and, yes, mud. ”It was one of the most chaotic things they’ve ever seen,” says Elliot Cahn, Green Day’s manager. Don’t expect a speedy return to Beantown for Green Day, which kicked off a three-week European tour this week. Asked if he’d allow the band back, the commissioner of the Metropolitan District Commission, M. Ilyas Bhatti, replies, ”Yes — in the year 2094.” — Dan Snierson

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