Plus the Artist is sued, and George Clooney gets his gal in ''The Perfect Storm''

By Sandra P. Angulo
Updated August 18, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

DISASTER As rescue teams worked furiously looking for survivors of the massive earthquake that rolled across Turkey on Tuesday, Meryl Streep was making her own evacuation plans. The actress had been enjoying the first part of a monthlong vacation in Turkey, sailing in the Aegean Sea with her family, when the 7.8-magnitude quake hit. ”I was somehow able to get through and talk to her,” says her spokesperson, Lois Smith, who adds that Streep’s boat was ”sloshed around a bit” but no one was harmed. ”Meryl’s okay, though she’s not exactly sure what she’s going to do to get out of there. The country’s a mess and planes aren’t leaving on schedule.”

LAWSUIT Thides Leasing Corp. has filed suit against the Artist Formerly Known as Prince for approximately $160,000 in unpaid bills. The company claims the Artist used a rented tour bus between May and October 1998 but never paid for it. According to the suit, the Artist owes $42,109 for the five months he used the bus and $116,600 for the other seven months that he had promised to lease it.

CASTING Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (”Limbo”) has signed on to play swordfish-boat captain Linda Greenlaw in director Wolfgang Petersen’s ”The Perfect Storm” opposite George Clooney. Based on journalist Sebastian Junger’s best-selling account of a fishing boat caught in 1991’s horrible fishing-season tempest, ”The Perfect Storm” costars Diane Lane and Mark Wahlberg. Shooting begins at the end of the month in Los Angeles and Gloucester, Mass….. Jeanne Tripplehorn (”Mickey Blue Eyes) is slated to star in ”Relative Values,” a comedy based on Noel Coward’s play. The film, which began filming recently on the Isle of Mann, chronicles an aristocratic English family’s response to the son’s new fiancée, an American movie star (Tripplehorn). Costars include Julie Andrews, Billy Baldwin, Colin Firth, and Stephen Fry…. Anna Friel, who recently starred in ”William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” has joined the cast of Dimension Films’ ”Boys and Girls.” Directed by Robert Iscove, ”Boys” is the ”When Harry Met Sally”ish story of Ryan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and Jennifer (Friel), longtime friends who eventually realize they’re in love with each other. Jason Biggs (”American Pie”) costars, and production starts this fall…. Denzel Washington is in advanced negotiations to star in the Jerry Bruckheimer/Disney project ”Remember the Titans.” Set in 1971, ”Titans” is based on a true story of the integration of two segregated high schools in Alexandria, Va.

DIAGNOSED Universal Records has announced that Chris Barron, the Spin Doctors’ lead singer, has been diagnosed with paralysis of the vocal chords. Barron, who can speak only in a whisper, continues to meet with medical specialists who have indicated that due to the rare condition, he may never regain the full use of his voice. All promotional activities for the Spin Doctors’ new album have been put on hold.

FILM FEST WATCH Wes Craven‘s ”Music of the Heart,” and first-time director Pip Karmel‘s ”Me Myself and I” have joined the lineup for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, which runs from Sept. 9 to 18.

EXITS Director Joel Schumacher has stepped down from helming ”The Apartment,” a new version of the 1996 French thriller ”L’Appartement.” Schumacher exited last week, due to ”creative differences,” according to Variety. Production on the remake was due to start in January, and negotiations were under way with Freddie Prinze Jr. and Kate Winslet to star. So far, no word on whether Lakeshore Entertainment will snag another director or put the project on hold.

NEW GROUP Oasis’ guitarist-songwriter Noel Gallagher plans to start a new trio named Tailgunner. Gallagher will act as drummer for the band, which includes guitarist-vocalist Mark Coyle and bassist Paul Stacey, says a spokesperson for Creation Records, Oasis’ U.K.label. MTV News reports that although Tailgunner does not have a deal with Creation, a label rep says the band is ”indeed a legitimate group,” and that Gallagher will probably wait until after Oasis finishes their fourth record before working with the new group on an album.

DVD ALERT Disney plans to release nine animated classics on DVD beginning Oct. 26. ”Pinocchio,” which was the first Disney movie released on video, will once again lead the pack, which also includes ”101 Dalmations” and ”Lady and the Tramp.”