CASTING It’s official: Charlie Sheen will take over for Michael J. Fox in ”Spin City” starting next season, having signed a $2.75 million deal to play the new deputy mayor. It’s Sheen’s first TV show…. From the ”Suspend your disbelief until it weeps for mercy” casting files, Sarah Michelle Gellar will play a young Harvard professor who has an affair with a student on the basketball team in ”Harvard Man,” written and directed by James Toback (”Two Girls and a Guy”).
ON TOUR With Christine, Mandy, and the rest crowding in on her jail bait market, Britney Spears isn’t taking a moment to rest: She’s just announced a summer tour that will kick off on June 15 in Charlottesville, N.C., and will run through Sept. 10 in West Palm Beach. It’s all to support her new album, which will be out on May 16.
MULTIMILLIONAIRE MESS Thanks to the public-relations disaster that is the restraining order-saddled bridegroom, Fox has announced that not only will it not rerun its high-rated special ”Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” on Tuesday, but it’s canceling plans to run another episode in May. It came to light this weekend that the rich groom, Rick Rockwell, was accused of hitting and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend in 1991, and she obtained a six-month restraining order on him. Rockwell was never officially charged, and he denies ever having hit her or any other woman. ”Relationships have ups and downs,” he said, ”but getting physical for me is not an option.” Speaking of relationships, he and his chosen bride, Darva Conger, got back from their honeymoon on Monday but are still living in separate residences. No word yet on whether they will complete their superficial family unit with a new Fox special for orphans, ”Who Wants to be Adopted by a Multi-Millionaire?”
REEL DEALS The great ”Planet of the Apes” hot potato continues to get tossed around Hollywood. Now the name being linked to the remake is Tim Burton, according to Variety. With James Cameron and Oliver Stone having flirted with the project and since vamoosed, Fox has a script it likes (which has been described as a ”re-imagining” of the original, and not a straight remake) and is reportedly negotiating with Burton to get those damned dirty apes in front of the camera. The lead in the new film is written to be younger than Charlton Heston was, which means we can look forward to months of ”Will Leo do it?” headlines. Plus, to further modernize the plot, Dr. Zaius may be given the Ricky Martin ‘do, a difficult and yet oh-so-chic look for a monkey to pull off…. When Universal signed the not as dependable as he was in the ’80s Sylvester Stallone to a three-picture, $60 million deal in 1995, it seemed like a risky investment to everyone but the studio: But five years later, Universal has finally seen the light. According to Variety, the contract — which Universal says was only a first-look deal — has been nixed after resulting in just one movie, ”D-Tox,” which is coming out later this year. (Stallone made 1996’s middling ”Daylight” for Universal, but that was under an old deal.) Now Stallone is free to look for another studio that will pay him $20 million per picture, and he’s also free to capture the Loch Ness monster as a pet and learn how to defy gravity.
LAWSUIT Ben Younger, the writer/director of ”Boiler Room”, named the movie’s illegal brokerage house JT Marlin, which is also the name of his old boss from when he worked in the New York City Comptroller’s office. The real J.T. Marlin isn’t exactly flattered by the homage, saying that it makes it seem like he’s involved in ”corrupt business practices and unethical conduct,” and he has sued Younger and New Line for a total of $22 million. Variety says that a settlement is likely to come soon.
IN NAME ONLY An L.A. post-Grammy Awards benefit planned in Carlos Santana‘s honor has been canceled after the guitarist and his record label’s lawyers pointed out that not only was Santana not planning to attend, but his name was being used without permission, according to Allstar news. The Pedro Zamora Foundation (an AIDS charity named after the late member of the San Francisco ”Real World” cast) said that they didn’t expect Santana to show up to its bash (some of the proceeds of which would go to the musician’s Milagro foundation), they were just throwing the party ”to honor Mr. Santana purely as a public recording artist. The foundation never meant to imply that he or Arista Records in any way intended to attend the event.” Please print out this article for your wallet as a reminder just in case you ever find yourself about to pay up for tickets to the Zamora Foundation’s Beatles Reunion concert.
FAR FROM HOLLYWOOD The makers of the ”Blair Witch Project” sequel weren’t exactly thanked warmly by the people of Burkittsville, Md., for putting their town on the map. When the filmmakers attended a town meeting on Feb. 14 to seek permission to shoot scenes for the follow-up, the session erupted into yelling and screaming by residents who were already sick of the tourists who had been tromping through the tiny town (pop. 200) vandalizing gravestones and looking for their own little stick men. The filmmakers ended up walking out of the meeting, according to the Associated Press, and the mayor has sent them a letter of apology.