Plus, David Letterman, Brendan Fraser, Hole, Warren Beatty, Sandra Bullock, and more

By Josh Wolk
January 20, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

EXPLAINING HIMSELF Michael J. Fox has clarified the reasons behind his planned season-end departure from ”Spin City,” explaining that his Parkinson’s had not made it impossible for him to continue the show, but he wanted to get out before it did. ”It was really a choice,” Fox said in an interview with ”Access Hollywood,” adding that he could have done another year, but there were other things he wanted to do more. ”Certainly it is a progressive disease, it doesn’t get better. But it hasn’t debilitated me. So I thought, ‘If that time comes, if it comes when my ability to do things is severely impaired more than it is now, if I’m in the middle of a show or a season then I have no choices.”’ ABC still has not decided whether to continue the show without him, but Fox says he wouldn’t mind if they decided to do so.

GETTING HEALTHY David Letterman was discharged from the hospital yesterday after recuperating from Friday’s quintuple-bypass surgery. He joked that he was planning to ”spend the weekend doing some heavy lifting and playing hardball.” His doctor, Louis Arrone, crowed about his wonder patient: ”With his recovery being so smooth, it was clear that he was ready to be discharged…. His quick release… is evidence of his excellent health.”

CASTING Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz have both officially signed on to the sequel to ”The Mummy.” In the follow-up, the two adventurers are married with a 9-year-old son when the Bandage Boy resurfaces in London…. Is it even possible to permanently ruin a career anymore? Apparently not: Even after Brett Butler‘s notoriously erratic behavior led to the demise of her sitcom, ”Grace Under Fire,” two years ago, she’s managed to come back and is now developing a new comedy series with director Tom Shadyac (”The Nutty Professor”) for ABC, her old network home. What, no talk show for Crispin Glover?

LAWSUIT Hole‘s label, Geffen — which the band is trying to walk away from — has filed suit against Courtney Love and Eric Erlandson, claiming the band owe five more albums on their 1992 contract. According to Variety, Doll Head Inc., the company that owns the recording services of Love and Erlandson (considered the principal members of Hole), says that California labor law restricts all personal services contracts to a length of seven years; Geffen says that recording contracts do not fall under the heading of ”personal services.” Geffen is also looking for unspecified damages and to block the band from recording as Hole for any other label.

HONORED Warren Beatty may not get the White House keys this year, but he will get the honorary Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award at the Oscars. In the past, this career achievement award has gone to such movie titans as Cecil B. DeMille, Alfred Hitchcock, Clint Eastwood, and George Lucas ”In discussing this award for Warren,” said Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences president Robert Rehme, ”our governors stressed his passion for film, for getting it just right… and his courage in producing pictures that many other producers might have considered too dangerous to try.”

FREEDOM FIGHTING, SLEAZY-STYLE Roger Corman is fighting the MPAA’s NC-17 rating of ”Fire on the Amazon,” a movie he made with Sandra Bullock early in her career and for which he recently lengthened a sex scene for a planned release. According to Variety, when Corman first tried to release the $2 million film after Bullock hit it big with ”Speed” in 1994, he got an R rating, but he ended up delaying the release while he tried (unsuccessfully) to sell his film library. When he gave it another go recently, he added five seconds to a scene where Bullock and Craig Sheffer drink an Indian’s hallucinogenic potion which, according to a Corman release, ”spawns the couple’s passionate canine-style lovemaking in the jungle.” Corman said he won’t release it as an NC-17, since no major theaters will carry it (presuming the Loews chain would otherwise be fighting over the rights to a nearly 10-year-old exploitation flick), but he won’t make any more cuts: If the MPAA doesn’t budge, he said he ”may start looking at my legal options.” You can bet Sandra Bullock won’t be showing up as his star witness.

REEL DEALS Sayonara, chick flicks: Wayne Wang (”Anywhere but Here”) will get all sexed up with ”Center of the World,” an erotic, mostly improvised story of young successful businessmen who know nothing but money and pleasure. Wang will shoot it all on digital video, and says he wants to make ”a really erotic film about sex and love, that could be like ‘The Last Tango in Paris’ for a younger generation.” So he’ll use Olestra instead of butter?… Rupert Wainwright (”Stigmata”) will direct ”Bobby Z,” the tale of a murder convict who makes a deal with the feds to pretend to be a famous drug lord and free an agent who’s being held by a Mexican gang.

OBITUARY Hedy Lamarr, the 1940s starlet who was often billed as the world’s most beautiful woman, died in her sleep Wednesday at the age of 86. Her beauty first made an impression with her startling role in the 1933 European film ”Ecstasy,” in which she did a nude scene. She came to the U.S. in 1937 where she had her biggest hit, ”Samson and Delilah,” in 1949.