August 23, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

CASTING Mel Gibson will take a brief hiatus from kicking ass and/or taking names, signing to star in the romantic comedy ”What Women Want.” He’ll play a boorish man’s man who suddenly develops the ability to read women’s minds and see what they’re really thinking. What next, John Gray in ”Payback 2”?… Elizabeth Hurley has joined Sean Penn and Sarah Polley (”Go”) in ”The Weight of the Water,” about a journalist investigating a century-old murder on a Scandinavian island…. Classic-horror thespian Christopher Lee (”Dracula,” ”The Mummy”) has signed on as the villainous Saruman in ”The Lord of the Rings.”

OBITUARY Bobby Sheehan, the bassist for Blues Traveler, was found dead of undisclosed causes at his New Orleans home Friday morning at the age of 31. Sheehan was working on a solo album, and was planning to rejoin the rest of Blues Traveler this fall to work on their new record.

PASSING THE TORCH Alas, Geena Davis won’t be going for the gold in the 2000 Olympics. She didn’t make the cut at Saturday’s qualifying round for the U.S. Archery team, coming in 24th out of 28. (Only the top 16 went on to the semifinals.) As the glamorous worlds of show business and archery collided, more than 50 reporters turned out to watch Davis put an arrow in her bow, shoot it, and then repeat the process over and over again. Davis found the scrutiny unnerving. ”Today has not seemed calm,” she told the reporters after the competition. ”It seemed more like Hollywood. I was ill-prepared for this onslaught. It was like being at a premiere.”

FAREWELL It’s taken a long time for Black Sabbath to say goodbye, but they’re finally ready, according to MTV News. After postponing their August farewell shows to tour with Godsmack, the band has now rescheduled its adios concertos for Dec. 21 and 22 in the Sabbath members’ hometown, Birmingham, England, where they staged their first reunion show in December 1997.

BARGAIN HUNTER Master P was only looking for a good deal when he bought 10 bulletproof vests from two New Orleans policemen, but now those salesmen are being investigated. The two officers, Lloyd Alphonso and Wiley Wood IV, bought the vests at their police discount ($390 under the sticker price!), and made a $2,000 profit selling them to P, according to the Associated Press. Even though the transaction wasn’t technically illegal, Alphonso has been fired from the reserves, and Wood, who is a full-time officer, is under review for disciplinary action.

INJURED Elizabeth Taylor is convalescing from yet another malady, this time a broken bone in her back that occurred Thursday when she fell in her home. The prognosis is good, but Reuters reports it will take around four or five weeks for her to heal. Taylor has suffered from back problems ever since she fell off a horse making 1944’s ”National Velvet.”

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