Plus, Dana Plato's death is ruled a suicide, and Calista Flockhart teams with a controversial playwright

By Josh Wolk
May 21, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
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RECORD-BREAKING ”The Phantom Menace” just reached its first milestone. By grossing $28.5 million in its opening day, the blockbuster beat ”The Lost World: Jurassic Park”’s one-day record of $26.1 million, set in 1997. ”Menace”’s Wednesday take is only $100,000 less than ”Titanic” earned in its entire first weekend: Now it only has a measly $573 million more to go before it truly trumps that darn boat pic.

CAUSE-OF-DEATH UPDATE An Oklahoma medical examiner has determined that Dana Plato‘s death on May 8 was a suicide, not an accidental drug overdose. The doctor said that she had taken too many painkillers for it to be unintentional, and her past history of suicide attempts bolstered his theory. Plato left no suicide note.

CASTING Calista Flockhart will likely spend her summer vacation in New York, appearing Off Broadway in ”A Gaggle of Saints,” which is comprised of three monologues written by filmmaker Neil LaBute (”Your Friends and Neighbors”) opening June 24…. Richard Gere may play a gynecologist in Robert Altman‘s next movie, ”Dr. T and the Women.” The film is written by Anne Rapp, the scribe behind Altman’s last movie, ”Cookie’s Fortune”…. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is heading back to television for the musical TV movie ”Geppetto,” which tells the story of Pinocchio from the perspective of his creator (played by Drew Carey). Louis-Dreyfus plays the Blue Fairy who brings the puppet to life, and unlike her ”Seinfeld” character, she does NOT whine about how Geppetto keeps noodging her with ”You’ve got to come over and see the PUP-pet!”…. Kate Beckinsale (”The Last Days of Disco”) is negotiating to go a little farther back in time than the 1980s for her next period piece, joining Uma Thurman and Nick Nolte in the Merchant Ivory adaptation of Henry James’ 1904 ”The Golden Bowl.” Beckinsale would play an American in England whose husband has an affair.

KISS AND MAKE UP Well, it ain’t peace in Kosovo, but Green Day and Third Eye Blind have buried their yearlong feud. Last summer during a joint concert where the two bands were messing with each other, somebody cracked a bottle over Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt’s head, and the band blamed Third Eye Blind. But, according to MTV News, recently Blind guitarist, Kevin Cadogan, bumped into Dirnt while Cadogan was buying a card for his young neighbor who had been stabbed. Dirnt was touched by the tale and Green Day ended up sending the victim a signed guitar, and now the bands have bonded over the good deed.

ANTI-GUN STAR You won’t catch Sharon Stone and Tom Selleck swapping handgun tales. The actress had four legally obtained guns in her home that she kept for protection, but she voluntarily turned them all over to police. ”Our world has changed, and our children are in danger,” said the actress, doing yet another good deed very publicly. ”I choose to surrender my right to bear arms in exchange for the peace of mind of doing the right thing.”

GIVE ME BACK MY NAME No Doubt is suing the clothing company No Fear, which copyrighted the band’s name in 1997. Gwen Stefani and Co., who have been together for 13 years, neglected to go for a copyright themselves until 1997, when they discovered they had been beaten to it. Now their California suit is asking for the company to revoke its trademark to avoid anyone thinking the two are connected.

AUTOPSIED The coroner who autopsied Tammy Wynette‘s body has determined that the singer died of natural causes sparked by chronic blood clots. However, the coroner did not rule out the effects drugs may have had, saying the autopsy was inconclusive because traces of a sedative and antihistamine were found, and other drugs would have long since become undetectable.

RERUN ROUND-UP Nick at Nite announced that it has bought the exclusive cable rights to ”Three’s Company” — a landmark show in TV history for its invention of the ”bawdy mix-up.” The purchase cost $25 million, which is the network’s second-most expensive buy after nabbing ”Cheers” reruns for $70 million.

DEATHS The son of a music promoter was found dead of a suspected drug overdose at the London home of former Pogues lead singer Shane MacGowan. Police said that MacGowan is not under suspicion for the death of Robbie O’Neill.

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