Bette’s Castoffs

And then there were three: Suddenly Midler’s sitcom has new faces


It’s no secret that the M in Divine Miss M doesn’t stand for mouse (as in “quiet as a…”), so it wasn’t much of a shocker when Bette Midler ranted on the Late Show with David Letterman last week about the travails of toiling on her. “It’s like being a dung beetle pushing this ball of dung up a mountain,” railed Midler, who half-jokingly called working on TV “the lowest thing that ever happened to me.” Be that as it may, CBS has renewed the sitcom, despite faltering ratings, for the rest of the season. So why all the grumbling? Bette’s increasingly dysfunctional family could be to blame. After the show’s pilot, cast-member Lindsay Lohan, who played Midler’s daughter Rose, quit (and was replaced by Marina Malota) because the show’s filming relocated from New York City to L.A. Now Kevin Dunn, who plays Midler’s husband, Roy, will leave after taping just 10 episodes. Quelling murmurs of discontent, CBS rep Beth Haiken calls the split amicable and “mutual.” Dunn declined comment.

The role will be recast, recalling TV’s greatest spouse switch—when William Asher, producer of the ’60s sitcom Bewitched, replaced Dick York with Dick Sargent as Samantha’s husband, Darrin, during the show’s sixth season. Asher’s advice: Silence is golden, Bewitched “continued exactly as it had,” Asher says, with not so much as a slip in ratings or, for that matter, the blink of a viewer’s eye.

Bette producers no doubt hope for the same staying power with their audience—and Midler, who suggested on The View that she would likely retire after Bette’s run. Dishes the Diva: “It’s really much, much more stressful than I thought.”

Bandits Set? Pros and Cons

As a general cinematic rule, making a romantic comedy typically poses fewer hazards than, say, shooting a Schwarzenegger flick. Not so, however, for Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton, who filmed scenes for Bandits, a lightheaded love triangle due next summer (Gate Blanchett is the object of their affections), at the maximum-security prison in Salem, Ore., among some of the state’s deadliest criminals. It wasn’t long before Thornton blended right in as one of the gang. “Me and Billy Bob had a couple of jokes together,” says convicted robber RayRay Jacobs, one of 170 inmates—all carefully screened for good disciplinary records—who received $25 a day to work as extras. “I approached him trying to imitate his voice in Sling Blade. He liked that and started talking back to me in that voice.”

Willis was a tougher nut to crack, says Jacobs, who notes that the Unbreakable star was initially “not so talkative” until “the last day of filming, [when] he loosened up and started talking to the guys.” Regardless, most inmates were simply happy to shake the jailhouse blahs, even if only briefly. “It was the best thing that’s happened to me in eight years,” says Harvey Caron, who is currently serving a life sentence for murder but played a spectator during a boxing scene with Willis. “It was an escape for a few days.”

Keeping Up with the Jones

In New York City the stars aren’t out every night. But Star is—almost. The View’s Star Jones, who says she sifts through up to a hundred party invites a week, is building a reputation as the Cal Ripken of the social whirl. Scoop tried to keep up for a few days.

Monday: Jones, resplendent in suede pants and beaded mules (“I own 450 pairs of shoes,” she admits), goes courtside to cheer on the New York Knicks. “I’m their chick,” says Jones, who takes a moment to compliment MTV’s Carson Daly on the ring he bought his fiancée, Tara Reid. (“Ka-ching!” said Jones, eyeing the sparkler.) Afterward she hits the hot spot Moomba, mingling with Ben Affleck and Seinfeld ex Shoshanna Lonstein. Tuesday: A former prosecutor, she shuttles to Washington, D.C., to speak at an event honoring Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Wednesday: Back with the Knicks. Thursday: Jones attends a cancer-research benefit, hobnobbing with the Clintons and Michael Jackson. Friday: Off to L.A. for the weekend to visit friends and tape a segment of Hollywood Squares. On tap for Tuesday and Wednesday: a Chanel opening in Manhattan; drinks with Princess Cruises execs. “I’m 38, single, beautiful and talented,” reasons Jones. “Why the hell would I be at home?”

Just Shoot Me Star Stunned

In one of the weirder Hollywood incidents in recent memory, Just Shoot Me star David Spade was allegedly attacked with a stun gun by his personal assistant David “Skippy” Malloy, 30, on Nov. 29 in the actor’s Beverly Hills home. After a 911 call from Spade, who suffered minor injuries, police arrested Malloy—who was found sitting in his car 35 miles away—and charged him with suspicion of burglary and assault. Just Shoot Me producers said Spade and Malloy got along well on the set. Malloy, now out on $50,000 bail, was convicted in 1990 of making obscene phone calls to the mother of a high school friend. “I believe he is a good person who is mentally troubled right now,” Spade, 36, said later.

  • Digital Doppelgänger
  • The arched eyebrows, the killer-bee-stung lips. The first photo of Angelina Jolie from the upcoming Tomb Raider strongly suggests why she was picked to play video vixen Lara Croft and why other actors—-Robert De Niro or Ernest Borg nine, for example—probably never stood a chance.


with Pierce Brosnan & Keely Shaye Smith

Their pet causes have included preserving the gray whale breeding grounds in Mexico and ending France’s underwater nuclear testing in the South Pacific. So it’s fitting that Pierce Brosnan, 48, and his companion, Keely Shaye Smith, 37, were to be honored this month at the Environmental Media Awards. Scoop caught up with the couple, who plan to marry next year.

There are so many causes to support. Why the environment?

PIERCE: That started for me with losing a wife to cancer [Cassandra Harris, who died in 1991]. The four years of struggle; the energy it took out of her life; watching my children go through it. It all has a profound effect on you. The illnesses that we suffer come from the air and the food and what we breathe, our environment.

KEELY: There were issues that were important to me as a journalist, such as protecting the redwoods from loggers and protecting porpoises from tuna fisherman.

Some say it’s more important to solve poverty and homeless-ness before saving baby seals.

PIERCE: Well, good. Go fight. Don’t throw mud at us. Everyone is working together for some cause.

KEELY: I’m always interested in people who are critical of those who work in the environment. Many times they don’t have a cause at all.

How is your son Sean [17] doing since his automobile accident last April?

PIERCE: He’s doing extremely well now. The love and support that came from people was outstanding.

Your wedding was put on hold until his recovery. How are plans coming along? Will it match the Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones affair?

KEELY: It will just be our closest friends, so ours will be much smaller. It’ll be pretty soon, coming up this summer. We sort of had something in mind, and we’re going to execute that same plan.

PIERCE: You know, just to love, honor and obey in sickness and in health. I’ll obey her if she obeys me.

Why get married now?

KEELY: It’s been an incredibly romantic whirlwind courtship that lasted seven years. I always wanted to make sure I was marrying the right person, and I am. Other than for ourselves, we’re doing it for our children and to unite our families into one. I always tease him, instead of the seven-year itch, it will be the seven-year hitch.

PIERCE: Yes, I thought that was very clever of her. Of course, she gets it all from me.



Got $800,000? Then you—yes, you—can live like a Duke. Specifically, you can live like Bo Duke, the blond half of the good or duo that anchored TV’s chipkicker classic The Dukes of Hazzard in the ’80s. John Schneider, who played Bo and has gone on to a career that includes singing and movie producing as well as acting (Dr, Quinn, Medicine Woman), is selling his 120-acre ranch in Frazier Park, some 60 miles north of Los Angeles. Amenities include a three-bedroom cottage, protected mountain and valley views, a corral, two wells and a three-car garage with living quarters—so you can park the General Lee downstairs and Uncle Jesse—or, if you’d prefer, Cousin Daisy—up top.

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