Plus, Madonna, Ving Rhames, Regis Philbin, Napster, John Gielgud, and more

By Lori Reese
Updated May 22, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

ACCIDENTS ”Friends” star Matthew Perry drove his green Porsche into the front steps of a home in the Hollywood Hills. Perry (a.k.a. Chandler Bing) swerved to avoid another car on a narrow, windy road and slammed into the front steps of a nearby house. The 32 year old left the accident unscathed, and there were no injuries. Cops say no there was no evidence of wrongdoing (i.e.: no DUI). Only Perry’s ride seems to have suffered in the mishap, requiring the help of a tow truck to remove it from the scene. But what’s a Porsche or two to a guy who just scored a lucrative contract deal for $750,000 per episode?

CASTING Madonna has been tapped for a role as a femme fatale in ”The Pillow Book” director Peter Greenaway’s $10 million flick, ”The Pulse Luper Trilogy,” along with Isabella Rossellini and Kathy Bates…. Al Pacino is in talks to play an out-of-work Hollywood producer in an upcoming project coproduced by New Line and Danny DeVito’s Jersey Films, creatively titled ”Hollywood Project”…. Ving Rhames will play defense attorney Johnny Cochran in a CBS miniseries based on the O.J. Simpson trial, ”America Tragedy.” Rhames, who will appear in ”M:I2,” opening Wednesday, won an Emmy for his last high-profile TV gig, ”Don King: Only in America”…. Erin Brockovich‘s real-life boss Ed Masry is joining the lineup of a syndicated court TV show that will premiere Aug. 28 in more than 95 percent of the country. Whoever said law school can’t lead to a career in showbiz?

LEGAL BRIEFS Charges against former Smashing Pumpkins bassist D’Arcy Wretzky for possession of crack were dropped after she completed four drug-abuse prevention courses she was ordered to attend as part of a program offered to first-time offenders in lieu of a trial. Wretzky maintained her innocence at the January hearing…. ”SNL” grad Dana Carvey sued over a 1998 double bypass surgery, alleging that surgeon Elias Hanna operated on the wrong artery, forcing Carvey to undergo an angioplasty to clear the blocked vein, according to Reuters. Carvey, who reportedly could receive up to $7.5 million in damages, claims that the second procedure required months of recovery, forcing him to forgo lucrative TV and commercial work. Hanna’s lawyer maintains that Carvey has an unusual anatomy causing his blood vessels to be positioned in an atypical way…. A Superior Court jury ordered ex-Dead Kennedy Jello Biafra to pay $200,000 in damages to his former band mates, who charged that Biafra’s label, Alternative Tentacles, failed to promote the group’s back catalog and pay back royalties. The jury also found that the four-man punk group’s partnership, Decay Music, owns the band’s catalog. Biafra had argued that each song belonged to its composer. ”What they’re basically doing is punishing me for sticking to the principles of the band and underground and independent culture,” he said. The remaining ex-Kennedys maintain that they uphold the subversive ethos of the group.

THE NAPSTER BEAT Metallica quietly shipped another 332,293 fans’ names to beleaguered Internet MP3 swapping service Napster last week. A spokeswoman for the band’s management company Q Prime, said that the unique users represent 2.2 million copyright violations. Napster has yet to respond to the new list, though about 30,000 of the first 317,000 the bitter metal band named for piracy have contested the allegations earlier last week.

REEL DEALS In the spirit of National Lampoon, High Times magazine is coproducing and cosponsoring a pot-friendly indie comedy entitled ”High Times Potluck,” written by ”Summer of Sam” scribe Victor Colicchio, and slated for a 2001 release…. Paramount plans to rerelease the surprise spring flop ”Wonder Boys” this fall with a buffed-up campaign, emphasizing its all star cast and fab reviews.

AWARDS ”Millionaire” maestro Regis Philbin was snubbed at Friday’s Emmys, hosted by daytime soap diva Susan Lucci. Regis was not only dissed for the eighth year in a row as cohost of ”Live! With Regis & Kathie Lee,” he lost the coveted award for finest game show emcee to old-timer ”Price Is Right” host Bob Barker and ”Hollywood Squares”’ Whoopi Goldberg whipping boy Tom Bergeron. ABC’s ratings behemoth ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” nevertheless took home a statue for best game show. ”General Hospital” nabbed a total of seven awards, including best drama, making it the biggest winner ever in the category. Barbara Walters received a lifetime achievement award, honoring her career in daytime drama, no wait, journalism.

DEATHS Legendary actor Sir John Gielgud died in London, at the age of 96. Gielgud, who starred in 1998’s ”Elizabeth,” was especially beloved in his home country of England for his masterful stage work and powerful patrician voice. In 1994, London’s Globe theater was renamed the Gielgud, for the actor who once told friends he would like to die on stage…. Romance novelist Barbara Cartland died Sunday in London. The author, step-grandmother to Princess Diana cranked out a mind-boggling 723 books (one every two weeks) detailing the trials of knightly heroes and chaste damsels, and appeared in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s most prolific writer. She was 98.