Plus, the Sean ''Puffy'' Combs case, John Travolta, Kurt Russell, WCW ''Nitro,'' and more

By Josh Wolk
Updated January 06, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST
Andrea Renault/Globe

WCW Monday Nitro

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ENGAGED Michael Douglas began the new millennium by making the world’s entire male population jealous: He proposed (successfully) to Catherine Zeta-Jones at his Aspen home on New Year’s Eve. Twenty-five-year age difference be damned (he’s 55, she’s 30), the couple plans to get hitched sometime this year. The sooner the better, because that is one clock that is ticking fast and loud.

INDICTED Jamal ”Shyne” Barrow — the rapper who was with Sean ”Puffy” Combs the night of the infamous shooting and was arrested for allegedly firing a gun in Club New York — has been officially indicted for attempted murder, according to the Associated Press. He’s also been charged with assault, reckless endangerment, and criminal possession of a weapon, although attempted murder is the biggie, and could land the 21-year-old rapper in jail for 25 years. Meanwhile, Combs and Jennifer Lopez testified to a grand jury yesterday and both said Combs (who has been charged with illegal possession of a gun found in his car) was unarmed when he was in the club.

CASTING John Travolta has already committed to a sequel to his sci-fi actioner ”Battlefield Earth,” four months before that movie opens. ”Earth” is based on the first half of the 1,050-page novel by L. Ron Hubbard (Travolta’s go-to Scientology dude), and the sequel will cover the last half. Considering the questionable buzz the first movie has already received, Travolta may be better served making ”Look Who’s Talking 2000”…. Rachael Leigh Cook (”She’s All That”) and Claire Forlani (”Meet Joe Black”) have joined Ryan Phillippe in ”Antitrust,” the tale of computer-conglomerate employees who discover their powerful leader (Tim Robbins) is involved in questionable business practices. Robbins will certainly make a more intimidating and less nerdy villain than Anthony Michael Hall did in ”Pirates of Silicon Valley”…. Kurt Russell may play the hero to Kevin Costner‘s villain in the Las Vegas robbery film ”3000 Miles to Graceland”…. Michael Chiklis (”The Commish”) will play everybody’s favorite pokable pal, Curly, in a Three Stooges TV-movie biopic for ABC. Considering Chiklis’ breakout role was as John Belushi in the forgettable ”Wired,” playing another late comic can only lead to better things… like a ”Commish” reunion special.

TOUGH BLOW Wrestling took a small step backward in its goal to dominate TV 24 hours a day: TNT has cut its Monday night three-hour WCW show ”Nitro” down to a paltry two hours. This trimming had been considered for months, according to Variety, ever since the grapplethon started getting beat by the competing WWF show ”Raw” on USA, which airs from 9-11 p.m. Now ”Nitro” will end at 10, giving it only one hour of head-to-head combat.

REEL DEAL Ed Zwick (”The Siege”) will direct ”Toys of Desperation,” a thriller about a dead murderer whose ghost tries to frame a college student for a killing similar to his.

AT THE TABLE Sure, he looks jolly on the ”Today” show, but get him at the bargaining table and Al Roker can be one badass weatherman. USA Today reports he’s deep in negotiations with NBC that, if not resolved this week, could mean he won’t be on the show on Monday. While the paper says that Roker wants around $2 million to stay, sources told the Hollywood Reporter that he actually wants a salary closer to Tom Brokaw’s, which is in the $7 million range. ”We are doing everything we can to reach an agreement with Al,” said an NBC spokesperson. ”We’re hopeful that this will work out.” Remember those more innocent days when being a weatherman wasn’t about the money, it was just about the pure joy of discovering an occluded front?

RACIAL HARMONY NBC has fended off a threatened boycott by the NAACP by announcing a plan to hire more minorities in behind-the-scenes capacities on its TV shows, which should ostensibly lead to more ethnic actors on the shows themselves. The agreement says that the network will: hire at least one minority writer next season for each of its second-year shows; encourage its producers to hire more minorities for creative roles; double its purchases from minority-owned businesses; and try to stop assigning minority writers only to minority-themed shows. The NAACP is working on similar deals with the other networks, and progress seems to be going well. ”NBC has gotten the message,” NAACP president Kweisi Mfume told the AP. ”It’s not to say that the others have not, but they have not acted as swiftly.”

NEW ADDITIONS CBS’ sleepy ”Early Show” just got a little more rockin’… politico style! Former Republican congressman and vice-presidential candidate Jack Kemp and former New York governor Mario Cuomo have joined the program as political commentators. Let the funky debating begin!

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