Plus Robert De Niro, LeAnn Rimes, Bryant and Katie, Lauryn Hill, Snoop Dogg, and more

By Craig Seymour
Updated October 22, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

BOY BAND BATTLES ‘N Sync hottie Justin Timberlake has broken his boy band’s silence on ‘N Sync’s planned move from their current label RCA Records to Jive Records, home to their reputed rivals the Backstreet Boys. While in Toronto, filming the ABC TV movie ”Cover Girls,” Timberlake told the Toronto Sun: ”We don’t look at anyone as rivals. I don’t know if anyone looks at us as rivals. They’re not really part of my world. I have enough problems that I don’t have to think about who doesn’t like me.”

CASTING Robert De Niro is in final negotiations to star in Mandalay Picture?s ”The Score” — the tale of a soon-to-be-retired thief who’s blackmailed into making one last heist. De Niro himself may score the biggest paycheck of his career with this film: $15 million, which should be more than enough for the newly single actor to likewise retire on…. Country ingenue LeAnn Rimes is set to star in Warner Bros.’ ”Emily’s Song,” a sort of family-friendly ”A Star Is Born,” where an estranged father and daughter are brought together through music.

BLUE NOTES A coroner has ruled that Blues Traveler bassist Bobby Sheehan died of an accidental drug overdose. Sheehan, who was found dead in his home in August, was found to have heroin, cocaine, and Valium in his system

ON THE TUBE CBS has signed filmmaker Joel Schumacher to direct the pilot for an upcoming but still untitled dramedy, which according to the Hollywood Reporter is vaguely about ”the dark and light side of humanity” battling for someone’s soul. Sounds sorta like Schumaker’s ’95 flop ”Batman Forever.”

MORNING-SHOW MADNESS In Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, soon-to-be-returning morning-show host Bryant Gumbel sounds off on his publicly adored former cohost Katie Couric. Among his charges: that Couric also had a newsmagazine flop like his tanker ”Public Eye With Bryant Gumbel,” and that while he stuck with the same personal assistant for 18 years at ”Today,” Couric ran through five personal assistants in five years. How’s that for perky?

MORE NET AID AltaVista will contribute $100,000 to Lauryn Hills‘ Refugee Project, an organization that provides social programs for disadvantaged young people. To say thanks, Hill will perform her first-ever webcast concert Mon., Oct. 25, at 4 p.m. (EST) on the new AltaVista Network.

WORKIN’ LIKE A DOGG In addition to promoting his new hit ”B Please” and appearing on Dr. Dre’s much anticipated album ”Dr. Dre’s Chronic 2001,” Snoop Dogg is penning his autobiography titled ”The Doggfather.” The book — due in December and cowritten by veteran rock scribe Dalvin Seay — traces Dogg’s life from being a petty drug peddler and Crips gang member to becoming top dog of West Coast hip-hop…. In more hip-hop news, NBA star and wannabe rapper Allen Iverson has fulfilled a personal hoop dream by signing a record contract with Crazy World Entertainment