ON THE ROAD Britney Spears is planning a monthlong tour with LFO; they’ll hit the road on March 8 in Pensacola, Fla., and finish on April 9 in Fort Myers, according to MTV News. (There will be many non-Florida gigs in between.) Spears will officially announce the dates on ”Total Request Live” next Friday.
FAREWELL ”Cosby” is planning a tribute episode to late cast member Madeline Kahn, which will air on Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. The special show, ”Loving Madeline,” will feature Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad reminiscing about working with Kahn — who died of ovarian cancer on Dec. 3 — and will show clips from her work on the series.
ANYTHING BUT QUIET When Courtney Love showed up to talk to Howard Stern on Thursday, odds were good she’d end up saying something outrageous. But who knew she’d manage to fit in two freaky revelations? First, she opened fire on former Nirvanan Dave Grohl, saying that after keeping her silence for five years, she wanted to announce that she hated him. She says that she was moved to trash by the fact that Grohl had repeatedly slagged her in public, and she believes the new Foo Fighters song ”Stacked Actors” is aimed at her. She then went on to say that Kurt Cobain also hated Grohl since he allegedly turned his back on Cobain during the late singer’s struggle with his drug problems. Love also revealed that Hole was leaving their label, Geffen, claiming that she wasn’t happy with it since the big Polygram/Universal merger (of which Geffen is a part), and therefore Hole would independently release music on the Internet.
IN TROUBLE Four staffers were fired from ”The Early Show” this week, as Bryant Gumbel’s new series is showing the strain of not being the immediate hit CBS had hoped it would be. In its first month on the air, ”Early” debuted with lower ratings than ”CBS This Morning,” which it replaced, and since then the numbers have dropped further, according to the Associate Press. Senior executive producer Steve Friedman, who said the four ex-”Early”-iers were let go for not booking guests aggressively enough to compete with ABC and NBC, told the AP that it would take time for viewers to break their old viewing habits and shift over to CBS. ”It’s like opening up a hamburger fast-food restaurant across the street from McDonald’s and Burger King,” he said. ”It takes time for people to say, ‘Maybe I ought to try that other place.”’ The fast-food analogy no doubt gave his current employees a shiver, suggesting what their future careers might be if they don’t start wooing audiences fast.
CASTING Ashley Judd may star in the film adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks best-seller ”The Notebook,” the romantic tale of an old woman with Alzheimer’s being retold the story of her own young love affair. Jim Sheridan (”The Boxer”) would direct…. Warner Bros. is wooing Julia Roberts for ”33 Liberty Street,” about a woman who works at the Federal Reserve and is seduced by a mobster planning to rob the bank…. Alan Cumming has joined ”Spy Kids,” the tale of a group of children who have to rescue their secret-agent parents. This sounds close enough to ”Baby Geniuses” that just hearing about it can ruin your Christmas…. Dean Cain has been hired to host TBS’ new version of ”Ripley’s Believe It or Not” (which is exactly where Cain would have filed this news if — while he was starring as Superman on ”Lois and Clark” — you had told him this is where his career would take him). The series debuts Jan. 12.
OSCAR REVAMP There will be no interpretive-dance numbers at this year’s Oscars, and everybody on the planet but Debbie Allen is thrilled. The new producers of this year’s Oscarcast — film producers Richard and Lili Fini Zanuck — announced that nixing the dancing is just one of a series of changes they’ll make to insure this year’s show goes more quickly. They’ll also have an on-screen announcer (actor Peter Coyote) do more of the introductions, giving the host less responsibilities (and less opportunity to do clock-hogging shtick). Speaking of the host, no one has been tapped yet, but the Zanucks are still begging Billy Crystal.
CROSSING THE ATLANTIC Perhaps the lesson that Jason Priestley took away from his recent booking for suspicion of driving while intoxicated was that everything would be fine if he just drove on the OTHER side of the road: He’s signed on to join the London production of the Tony-award-winning play ”Side Man.” He’ll first hit the British stage on Feb. 17.
VIDEO EDIT Disney will change a character in its ”Toy Story 2” videogame after Hispanic protesters called it offensive. At one point in the game, the home player has to try to shoot down a villain wearing a bullet bandolier, a huge mustache, and a sombrero, and the protesters were not happy with the Mexican stereotype. (This character is not in the movie.) ”We feel it’s degrading, it’s dehumanizing,” Oscar de la Torre, a counselor at Santa Monica High School, told the Associated Press. ”It stereotypes Mexicans as villains. It’s a virtual game of genocide, the way we see it, because they’re being ethno-specific.” The Übertolerant Disney said it regretted the offense, that a mistake was made, and a change would be made in the game.
RETURNED Bono HAS found what he’s looking for: He’s recovered the lost laptop — taken from his car in Dublin on Dec. 6 — that contained the material for U2’s next album, according to the Irish newspaper the Star. The man who returned it (who wanted to be known only as ”Paul”) claimed he bought it from someone for 300 pounds, thinking it was a legitimate purchase and not knowing whose it was, and then flicked it on to find a picture of Bono’s new baby. ”As I’m the father of a 3-month-old child myself it made me even more anxious to give it back,” said Paul. Bono has offered to buy Paul a new laptop, as well as give him the 2,000-pound reward U2’s managers had offered.
BURGLED One day before his movie ”The Green Mile” was to premiere, writer/director Frank Darabont‘s Los Feliz, Calif., house was robbed while he was away on vacation and his home was being remodeled. However, nothing was taken but his collection of Tiffany lamps.
RENEWED It’s cheap, it’s successful… what’s not to like? So ABC has renewed ”Whose Line Is It Anyway?” for next year. Drew Carey and his incessantly improvising pals will make 38 episodes next year, far more than the 22 most series produce annually.
PUTTING HIS FOOT DOWN In a law you’d think wouldn’t need to be written, President Clinton just signed a law banning ”crush” films — fetish videos where women stomp on mice and other small animals with their heels while they’re having sex. (And just moments before Fox probably would have turned it into a weekly reality series.) The White House says the law doesn’t impinge on the First Amendment, since it only covers films with a ”prurient interest in sex,” and makes exceptions for mouse-stomping films of ”serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value.” If anything can motivate William Kunstler to come back from the dead, it’s this law.
MANLY EVENT Kirk Douglas celebrated his second bar mitzvah Thursday in California at the age of 83, becoming a man and then some. As well as his sons, the ceremony (normally performed for a 13-year-old) was attended by such Hollywood peers as Angie Dickinson, Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine, Karl Malden, and Don Rickles, all of whom presumably had a great time posing for the caricaturist and doing the Chicken Dance. ”This is my way of saying, Thank you, God, for being so good to me,” said Douglas.
OBITUARY Rick Danko, bassist and one of the vocalists for The Band, died of natural causes in his sleep at his home near Woodstock, N.Y., on Friday at the age of 56.