Plus, CNN courts Rush Limbaugh, U2 plot a return to the U.S., and more

By Gary Susman
Updated August 16, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Jermaine Jackson: Walter McBride/Retna

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I’LL BE THERE Looks like Jermaine Jackson will be joining his brothers after all at Michael Jackson‘s self-tribute concert next month. It had seemed that the two September shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden would feature everyone in show business except Jermaine, who issued a statement last month complaining that true Jackson 5 fans were being shut out by the ”exorbitant” ticket prices, that none of the money was going to charity, and that the reunion of the six brothers was being upstaged by the dozens of other performers. He claimed to be speaking for younger brother Randy Jackson as well, though the other brothers denied Randy planned to sit out the shows, which commemorate Michael’s 30 years as a solo artist. It’s not clear why, but Jermaine apparently changed his mind. ”Jermaine was always an integral part of the Jackson 5,” producer David Gest said in a statement Monday. ”I am delighted he has signed his contract and will be joining his brothers: Michael, Jackie, Marlon, Tito and Randy for these very special evenings. Michael is extremely happy that all his brothers…will be involved in these milestone events.” The reunion will mark the first time the six brothers have performed together since 1984’s Victory tour.

RUSH HOUR If you’re CNN, how do you stop Rush Limbaugh and other conservative critics of your alleged liberal bias from calling you the ”Clinton News Network?” Co-opt them. CNN is in talks with Limbaugh to give him his own show, perhaps a daily simulcast of his radio program like Don Imus has on MSNBC. The move comes a few days after new CNN chief Walter Isaacson visited conservative politicians in Washington to hear their concerns. CNN has been fighting a ratings war in recent months with the more openly conservative Fox News Channel. Limbaugh made a coy reference to a possible CNN deal on his radio show recently. ”Am I talking with CNN?” he asked. ”No, I am listening.”

OUTSIDE IS AMERICA U2 seems to have had such a swell time on their recent visit to our shores that they’re coming right back. Having played 50 dates in North America on their current Elevation tour, the band are thinking of adding 25 more dates after they finish the European leg of the tour at the end of this month. The return could add $33 million to the $69 million the Elevation concerts have already grossed here, which would make it the third-highest grossing North American rock tour ever, behind the 1994 tours of the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd. Already, Elevation has earned an estimated $142 million worldwide….

Another touring band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, have put on hold their plans to perform in Israel in the wake of last week’s two Palestinian suicide bombings. The U.S. State Department has urged Americans to postpone visits to Israel. The Chili Peppers were to play outside Tel Aviv at the end of August and had sold 20,000 tickets, which will be refunded.

REEL DEALS Here’s a new genre: the humanitarian love story. Monica Bellucci (”Malena”) has joined the cast of ”Man of War,” playing a doctor in a war-torn village in Africa who has to be rescued by Bruce Willis. And ”Beyond Borders,” the long-gestating project about a 10-year romance between relief workers aiding disaster victims in Africa, Thailand, and Europe, may finally go into production in December. Angelina Jolie is set to star, filling a role originally slated to go to Meg Ryan, then Catherine Zeta-Jones. Martin Campbell(”Vertical Limit,” ”The Mask of Zorro”) is now set to direct, after Oliver Stone dropped out. There’s no male lead yet; both Kevin Costner and Ralph Fiennes had been attached over the years but dropped out.

Typecasting? Having played a hitwoman/love interest in ”Bulworth,” Halle Berry is set to do so again in ”Gigli,” opposite Ben Affleck. Director Martin Brest (”Midnight Run”) also wrote the screenplay and will shoot the film in November, by which time Affleck will presumably be out of alcohol rehab….

For all the protests by minority groups against underrepresentation in film and TV roles, the last year has seen only modest increases in minority casting, according to the Screen Actors Guild’s annual employment statistics report, released Monday. Roles for black performers rose 1.7 percent, and roles for Latino performers rose half a percent. Caucasians were cast in 77.1 percent of all roles. The study also found that 62 percent of the roles went to men, and performers under 40 grabbed two thirds of all roles….

David Manning had better not go to Oregon, if he knows what’s good for him. The imaginary critic invented by Sony Pictures marketers to praise movies like ”The Animal” and ”A Knight’s Tale” prompted an investigation by the Oregon attorney general’s office. (He also prompted similar investigations in other states and several lawsuits.) On Monday, Sony forestalled further investigation in Oregon by promising state officials that from now on, ads published in the state would use quotes only from actual reviews by real reviewers or else acknowledge that the quotes come from studio employees. If Sony does use fake critics in Oregon ads, it risks a $25,000 fine for each victim of marketing fraud. No word on whether Sony (or other studios) will also stop using fake actors (”Final Fantasy”) or fake scripts.

Speaking of fake actors, there’s Fabio, who’s banking on a film future devoid of real thespians. The fake-butter spokesman has his own film production company, and he’s working on a computer-animated feature called ”Thor: God of Thunder.” ”To me, the future of TV and movies is going to be 3-D animation,” he tells People magazine. ”Sad to say, but I think actors are going to be out of jobs.” The 42-year-old says even his romantic icon status, based on his appearance on the covers of hundreds of paperbacks, isn’t based on reality. ”I once had this girl who I loved in an incredible way, but I blew it,” he says. ”I’m waiting for that second chance. I believe in life you always get a second chance.” A non-virtual Fabio will make cameo appearances in the upcoming movies ”Bubble Boy” and ”Zoolander.”

TUBE TALK ”The Brady Bunch” continues to refuse to stay stuck in the ’70s. Variety reports that ”Brady” creator Sherwood Schwartz is working on a TV movie called ”The Brady Bunch in Washington,” in which Vice President Mike Brady ascends to the White House when the president resigns after a scandal; Mike then names wife Carol to be his veep. (At last, a presidential family so squeaky clean they make the Bushes look like the Clintons.) Schwartz also has an idea for a biracial Brady tale in which a white Mike marries a black Carol. Hey, Alice, guess who’s coming to dinner….

Also returning from TV limbo is ”The Facts of Life,” as ABC prepares a reunion movie that will bring back most of the original cast, including Charlotte Rae (Mrs. Garrett), Kim Fields (Tootie), Lisa Whelchel (Blair), and Mindy Cohn (Natalie). Nancy McKeon (Jo) is apparently not coming back, except maybe in a cameo. The plot has Natalie reuniting her prep school pals to help her decide between two marriage proposals. The movie will air next season on ABC’s ”Wonderful World of Disney.” Shooting begins September 10 in Toronto….

MTV will have to find a fresh source of outrage and stupid human tricks, as Johnny Knoxville is pulling the plug on ”Jackass” to focus on his burgeoning movie career. He told the Knoxville News-Sentinal that he wanted to quit while the show was still edgy. ”With this kind of comedy, people become inured to the shock value,” he said. Knoxville (real name: P.J. Clapp) hasn’t ruled out one-time specials, ”but this is enough. We have done enough.” He said MTV will continue to rerun the 24 extant episodes of the show, but with the more objectionable material (stunts that allegedly inspired kids to try their own dangerous acts) edited out. Said Knoxville, ”All the funny things will be gone.”

PURL HARBOR It’s a movie rule: if you see an actress in a knit hat, it means her character is going to waste away from a horrible disease. On the other hand, if you see actor Billy Crudup in a knit hat, it just means his girlfriend, Tony-winning actress Mary-Louise Parker, had a lot of time on her hands. ”It’s soothing,” Parker says of her knitting hobby in the upcoming issue of Rosie magazine. ”And it gives me something to do because I don’t smoke anymore, thank God. You can’t do both at once. I can’t, anyway.” So kids, put down that tobacco and pick up some needles. Wait, that doesn’t sound right….

‘SURVIVOR’ SPREE How would you spend $1 million? ”Survivor” winner Tina Wesson has been spreading the wealth. She paid off a debt for runner-up Colby Donaldson and bought him a Harley-Davidson. The Knoxville nurse also bought her family a 4,500-square-foot house with five bathrooms (she and her husband and two teenage kids had been living in a 1,200-square-foot house with one bathroom). But she hasn’t spent much time there lately; she tells Us magazine that she’s been on a ”permanent vacation,” spending 25 days a month making personal appearances and TV guest spots. ” I used to get so excited when it was Friday,” she says. ”Now I don’t know what day it is, and I am like, ‘This is what it’s going to be like for the next year.’ It’s wild.”

GOLDEN BOY Comic Judy Gold gave birth to a son on Thursday in New York. Benjamin Dov Callahan-Gold (7 pounds, 8 ounces) is the second son for Gold and her partner, Sharon Callahan (brother Henry is 4). Gold, a regular on Fox News Channel’s ”The Insiders,” will next be seen in Woody Allen‘s ”The Curse of the Jade Scorpion,” opening next week.

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