Celebrity news for the week of September 13

By Casey Davidson and Anna Holmes
Updated September 13, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

Expecting Go, Ricki; go, Ricki. Talk-show hostess Ricki Lake, 27, and her husband, artist Rob Sussman, 30, are expecting their first child in March. Lake plans to work through her show’s fourth season, which begins Sept. 9.

Recovering Liam Neeson, 44, underwent surgery in Padua, Italy, Sept. 2 to unclog a blocked intestine. The actor, whose second son was born Aug. 27 in New York, flew to Italy three days later to attend the Venice Film Festival, where his movie Michael Collins was having its world premiere. Neeson had appeared peaked and uncomfortable during a screening of the film and at a subsequent press conference. At press time, Neeson was still in Padua and ”recovering successfully from surgery,” according to his spokeswoman.

Deaths Manager Helen Kushnick, 51, of cancer, Aug. 28, in New York City. Kushnick was best known for engineering Jay Leno’s rise from stand-up comedian to host of The Tonight Show. After Leno took over the program in 1992, he rewarded Kushnick by naming her executive producer; NBC fired her four months later for her overly abrasive management style. Among other tactics, Kushnick demanded that Tonight Show guests forgo rival talk shows. ”Jay Leno would not have The Tonight Show if it weren’t for Helen Kushnick,” says New York Times television writer Bill Carter, who provided an unflattering portrait of Kushnick in his book The Late Shift: Letterman, Leno & the Network Battle for the Night. (In HBO’s adaptation, Kathy Bates played Kushnick.) Leno refused to comment on her death….

Actress and director Christine Pascal, 42, reportedly committed suicide on the weekend of Aug. 30 in Paris. Pascal appeared in five films by French director Bertrand Tavernier, including ‘Round Midnight (1986) and The Clockmaker (1974). Last year she directed the art-house farce Adultere: Mode d’Emploi (Adultery: A User’s Guide), which had its U.S. debut at the 1995 Hamptons Film Festival.