Plus, Anthony Hopkins is still interested in 'Hannibal,' and Jeffrey Katzenberg finally defeats Disney in court
TALK SHOW BATTLE The alleged Queen of Nice ambushed Tom Selleck when he appeared on her show yesterday morning, casting aside chitchat about his new movie ”The Love Letter” to castigate him about his pro-NRA views. (The actor has appeared in ads for the organization.) After nine tense minutes of grilling about the dangers of assault rifles, Selleck exhaustedly said, ”Do you think it’s proper to have a debate about the NRA?… This is absurd.” O’Donnell bid farewell to her guest by saying, ”This had not gone the way I had hoped…. If you feel insulted by my views, I apologize, because it was not a personal attack.” This morning, O’Donnell’s archenemy Howard Stern, incensed by what he called her hypocrisy for arguing for the ban against guns while shilling for K-Mart, which sells firearms, headed to her studio while live on the air to ”ambush her” with his own questions (which, he said — not helping his cause — would include queries about her weight and many other personal issues). When he arrived, a security guard told him the show had sent word that he was not to be let upstairs.
CASTING Although Jonathan Demme won’t be directing the ”Silence of the Lambs” sequel, Anthony Hopkins is still interested in licking his lips once again for ”Hannibal,” according to Variety. No word yet from Jodie Foster, who is making a film in Malaysia, but she will likely wait to commit until a script is ready…. Al Pacino has shown interest in ”City by the Sea,” a drama about a cop who sees his son going the way of his father, who was a crook and a murderer…. Rose McGowan has joined Brendan Fraser and Whoopi Goldberg in the partially animated ”Monkey Bone”…. Val Kilmer will likely play an astronaut stranded on Mars in the appropriately titled ”Mars”…. Gene Hackman may dust off his ”Hoosiers” whistle to join Keanu Reeves in ”The Replacements,” playing an NFL coach who recruits a roster of scab players during a football strike…. Camryn Manheim is joining Garry Shandling in ”What Planet Are You From,” a comedy Shandling wrote about an alien who heads to Earth to impregnate a woman. Annette Bening also stars, and Mike Nichols will direct…. In ”Billith,” ”Saturday Night Live”’s Chris Kattan will play a struggling musician who decides to dress in drag to get a Lilith Fair gig, only to become famous as a chanteuse.
LAWSUIT Jeffrey Katzenberg emerged as the winner in his drawn-out lawsuit against his former employer, the Walt Disney Co. A Los Angeles Civil Court judge ruled that the studio still owed Katzenberg a multimillion-dollar bonus, because he did not forfeit it by leaving the company in 1994. Disney did emerge victorious in a couple of the charges, with, for example, the judge stating that the studio did not commit fraud in its dealings with the ex-exec. But most of the case went Katzenberg’s way, and now a new trial will begin to determine the actual sum that the DreamWorks head is owed…. Columbia/TriStar TV may sue Daniel Stern (”City Slickers”), who backed out of its comedy ”Partners” just as CBS was considering giving the show a spot in next season’s schedule. The network promptly yanked the show, which also starred Jeremy Piven (”Cupid”), from consideration. Stern didn’t give a reason for the change of heart, although he is now considering rejoining the in-limbo show, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
GROSSES ”Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” is off to a healthy start. Fox estimates that the flick grossed $7.5 million in its first six hours, on Wednesday from midnight to 6 a.m.
REEL DEALS Paul Reiser says that after ”Mad About You” signs off on May 24, he is writing a movie script for himself to act in and Rob Reiner to direct, and he’s developing a new sitcom, but one in which he won’t act. ”I just don’t want to have to show up every day,” he tells Variety’s Army Archerd…. Ozzy Osbourne is developing a movie based on his life, according to MTV News. A great deal of interest in his tumultuous career built up with movie execs after his VH1 ”Behind the Music” special. Auditions for bats (who will have their heads bitten off) may begin soon…. Dean Cain has emerged from his post-”Lois and Clark” Fortress of Solitude, signing a deal with Columbia/TriStar TV to direct and star in TV-movies. His behind-the-camera debut will come with ”The Burning Man,” the story of a lawyer (played by Cain) who lands the case of a mentally ill man charged with being a serial killer. Like Paul Reiser, Cain has maintained that he won’t return to weekly television because of the grueling time commitment.
FALL SCHEDULE UPDATE Next season UPN is going for the audience that hates Must See TV by scheduling two hours of pro wrestling against NBC’s ”Friends” and ”Frasier.” It’s all part of the struggling network’s renewed push to lure in young men, as opposed to the middle-America families they disastrously tried to court last season.