Marlon Brando, who agreed to do a cameo in Scary Movie 2 for $2 million, won’t be in the comedy after all. “Unfortunately, due to his health issues and unavailability, we must recast his role,” a rep for Dimension Films announced on April 24. But the legendary actor, 77, who was hospitalized with pneumonia earlier in April, did, in fact, report to the Scary set on April 21 for the first of his four scheduled days of filming. Accompanied by a nurse and using an oxygen tank when he became short of breath, Brando worked for only three hours. A source on the set told me that he was “too feeble to continue.” Brando had been cast as a priest in a send-up of The Exorcist.
Former “Hollywood Madam” Heidi Fleiss caused quite a stir at the American Comedy Awards in L.A. She was covering the show for Laugh.com but refused to stand in the arrivals line with the other press, demanding to do her interviews inside. When told that wasn’t possible, Fleiss bolted in a limo. You’d think someone who needed permission from her probation officer to work the event—she was sentenced to six months home detention in April for drug violations—would be grateful just to attend.
Since UPN just snagged Buffy the Vampire Slayer from The WB after agreeing to pay about $500,000 more per episode, what’s another 50 grand on gift baskets for the eight cast members and Buffy’s creator, Joss Whedon? Each basket held Cristal champagne, beluga caviar, gourmet foods and a $4,000 Carder watch. But Sarah Michelle Gellar found a Gucci necklace in place of the watch and Shakespeare fan Whedon got a rare edition of the Bard’s works.
On Conan O’Brien’s birthday show—he turned 38 on April 18—Carson Daly gave him an ‘N Sync doll. But the best surprise came at O’Brien’s Manhattan apartment the following night when he hosted a party for about 25 friends (his one request: no gifts). The highlight, he says, was having Lucy Lawless show up unexpectedly. In town for a day or two, she called one of the show’s producers to say hi and he brought her along. “The star power in the room was nothing less than awesome,” said O’Brien.
There’s probably no bigger baseball fan in Hollywood than Billy Crystal. His latest directorial effort, 61*, the HBO movie about the 1961 home run race between Yankees Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, is proof of that. So is his large collection of baseball memorabilia. His most prized possession? An original seat from Yankee Stadium signed by Mantle, Crystal’s boyhood idol who became a friend. Wrote the slugger, who died in 1995: “I wish you were still sitting here and I were still playing. Mickey Mantle.” “With this movie,” Crystal told me, “both things happen.”