By Gregory Kirschling
April 16, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

TELEVISION Last Saturday, Rebecca De Mornay was planning a SpongeBob birthday party for her 3-year-old when — ring, ring! — TV guru David E. Kelley’s people called to ask her to coheadline a spin-off of ABC’s Practice with James Spader! Three days later, she’s filming scenes! ”I’m overwhelmed,” she says from her dressing room. ”I just got plummeted into this thing.” First up are four regular Practice episodes starting April 18. She plays a former DA ”who doesn’t easily tolerate fools” and ”is well matched to give Spader a run for his money.” If it goes well…spin-off with Spader!

MOVIES A sports widow is a wife whose hubby loves sports not wisely but too well, and Sports Widow, a romantic comedy about one such Desdemona, is Reese Witherspoon’s new project…. Scrubs star Zach Braff already has plans for following up his Sundance-approved writing-directing debut, Garden State, which opens this summer. He’s gonna pen a screenplay with his big bro, Adam, during his next Scrubs hiatus, a fantasy adaptation of a kids’ book called Andrew Henry’s Meadow, about a boy who builds ”the most amazing Swiss Family Robinson treehouse” in a meadow and all the kids who flock to it. ”We wanted to bring back the fun spirit of The Goonies” — the Deal Report LOVES The Goonies! — ”with a kids-save-the-world kind of story,” says Braff, who calls it ”Brazil for kids.”