Plus, Paul McCartney is engaged, Madonna's husband will direct her in a movie, and more

By Gary Susman
Updated July 31, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Mariah Carey: Evan Agostini/ImageDirect

HEALTH WATCH Mariah Carey checked herself into an unidentified New York hospital Wednesday night, citing exhaustion, her publicist says. The hospitalization came hours after Carey posted several incoherent messages to her website, which have since been removed, saying things like ”Basically all I really wanna say is I don’t know what’s going on with life … I’m trying to understand things in life right now and so I really don’t feel that I should be doing music right now. But I just can’t trust anybody anymore right now because I don’t understand what’s going on … I’m desperately trying to get out of this room. And I don’t know if that makes any sense to anybody… I’m gonna be taking some time off.”

Another read, ”What I’d like to do is just take a little break or at least get one night of sleep without someone popping up about a video or a thing where all I really want to do is just be me and that’s what I should’ve done in the first place but somebody … allowed myself to be a little bit too paranoid about life. So if anybody gets this that really cares, just do me a favor … close the management company down that I own, and I’m gonna lie here and wait for that to happen.”

Carey has been extremely busy lately. Her new album and movie, both called ”Glitter,” will be released next month, and she has recently finished shooting another film, ”Wise Girls,” with Mira Sorvino. Her three-year relationship with Spanish singer Luis Miguel has supposedly crumbled amid reports that she’s been seeing Eminem. Carey has canceled her upcoming appearances, including the ”Glitter” press junket and MTV’s 20th anniversary concert. ”We don’t know how long she will be in the hospital,” her spokeswoman said….

Katharine Hepburn finally went home from the hospital Thursday. The 94-year-old actress had been hospitalized last week for a urinary tract infection, which cleared up quickly, but she remained unsteady on her feet for several more days, doctors said. ”God bless her. She’s one tough lady!” said her Old Saybrook, Conn., neighbor John Sexton. ”They couldn’t hold her in the hospital longer than she wants to.”

TWO OF US Maybe he’s amazed: Paul McCartney and model Heather Mills, his girlfriend of two years, are engaged. He proposed Monday during a trip to England’s Lake District. Earlier this year, he bought her a sapphire and diamond engagement ring in India. The wedding will take place sometime next year. It will be the first marriage for Mills, 33, and the second for McCartney, 59. His first wife, photographer and Wings bandmate Linda McCartney, died of cancer three years ago after 29 years of marriage…

It’s one wedding and no funerals for Andie MacDowell, who got engaged last week to a childhood friend, Atlanta jeweler Rhett Hartzog. The couple, both 43, will marry in November in Asheville, N.C., where she lives. It’s the second marriage for MacDowell.

REEL DEALS Last time Madonna shot a feature with her husband, the spouse was Sean Penn and the result was ”Shanghai Surprise.” That’s not stopping her from wanting to star in a film directed by her current husband, ”Snatch” director Guy Ritchie. They want to remake ”Swept Away,” the 1975 Italian castaway romance by Lina Wertmuller. Hmmm…a movie about a rich woman who falls for a rough-edged guy and lives with him on an island? Shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

Having played fairy godmother to herself in ”The Wedding Planner,” Jennifer Lopez may now get to play a modern-day Cinderella in ”The Chambermaid.” She’d play a cleaner in a Chicago hotel who falls for a wealthy guest in the movie, scripted and produced by John Hughes. Earlier this year, Sandra Bullock and then Hilary Swank had been slated to play the lead. Hughes was originally set to direct, but the production is now looking for another Prince Charming to fill the director’s chair….

”Iron Fist” has finally found a director. It’s Kirk Wong (”The Big Hit”). The Marvel Comics-based martial-arts epic stars Ray Park, who played Darth Maul in ”Star Wars: Episode One — The Phantom Menace.”…

Robert Duvall has joined the cast of ”Gods and Generals,” writer-director Ron Maxwell‘s prequel to his 1993 Civil War epic ”Gettysburg.” Shooting begins at the end of August in Lexington, Virginia.

TUBE TALK President George W. Bush may have trouble keeping his White House staff in line, but producers of ”The West Wing” are having more luck. Supporting actors Allison Janney, John Spencer, Bradley Whiftord, and Richard Schiff had threatened to walk unless their salaries (said to be $30-35,000 per episodes) were tripled to the six-figure range earned by Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe, but they settled on Thursday for the producers’ offer of double. The actors also agreed to extend their contracts for a seventh year (the show is beginning year three). It’s not the only hit show whose supporting cast is demanding a raise. Similar negotiations are underway at ”Becker,” ”Judging Amy,” and ”Malcolm in the Middle.” Though producers of successful shows usually allow stars to renegotiate their long-term contracts early, this year they’re breaking with tradition and holding firm, citing the poor economy….

Everyone enjoyed watching Julia Roberts fight overwhelming odds to help people as the star of ”Erin Brockovich,” so why not watch the real Erin Brockovich do the same? ABC wants to do a one-hour special in which the cleavage-baring paralegal will be challenged to perform some act of community service in a ridiculously short amount of time. (Sounds like your typical celebrity drunk-driving sentence, doesn’t it?) The idea comes from a British show called ”Challenge Anneka,” in which TV personality Anneka Rice has had to do things like build an orphanage in Kenya in 48 hours. If the initial hour is a hit, it could become a series of specials.

Last year’s Florida ballot battle seemed stranger than fiction, but Showtime will take a crack at it in a made-for-cable movie. Developing the film will be the team who made Showtime’s 2000 TV movie ”Strange Justice,” about the face-off between Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill during the former’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991. Author Jane Mayer, on whose book that film was based, will coproduce the Bush vs. Gore project.

NAME GAME A company that calls its laser-guided surgical scalpels ”Light Sabers” is feeling the force of George Lucas‘ legal wrath. Lucas filed a trademark infringement suit Tuesday against Minrad Inc., claiming that the medical product could cause him millions of dollars in lost sales of ”Star Wars” merchandise and would fool consumers into thinking it had his endorsement. Because what kid won’t be screaming at Christmastime for a laser-guided scalpel?…

In another trademark infringement case, Viacom, parent company of MTV, is suing a Tennessee social service nonprofit group called ”Love in the Real World.” The group, which sends young adults to mentor kids in high schools, is one of more than 100 organizations whose name that includes the phrase ”Real World,” 53 of which have registered for trademark protection with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, notes ”Love in the Real World” director Peter Batarseh. ”We feel they’ve picked us out because we’re the weakest link,” he says. No word on whether NBC is also now planning to sue him….

MTV also continues to be faced with unwanted imitators of ”Jackass.” In the latest incident, on Monday, three Bozeman, Mont., teens videotaped themselves driving around and shooting at least 40 plastic pellets from a BB handgun at bicyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers. One of the boys’ mothers turned the videotape over to police, leading to disorderly conduct misdeameanor charges against the youths. No one was hurt in the incident, which one boy told police was inspired by pranks seen on ”Jackass.”

BOX OFFICE PREVIEW Stop monkeying around with ”Jurassic Park”’s dinos! Simian says (not to mention the analysts) that this week’s box office is all about apes, ”Planet of the Apes,” that is. Read why here.

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