I guess it all comes down to priorities. Oprah Winfrey, one of TV’s 40 Most Fascinating Stars of ’97 (see page 44), is so involved as star and producer of the feature film Beloved, about a former slave in the post-Civil War period, that she has had to delay the start of her 12th season as host of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Traditionally the show begins much closer to Labor Day; now it will return on Sept. 15—with Oprah. However, for the week of Sept. 8, Winfrey’s staff has gathered some of her favorite celebrity guests to introduce flashbacks of their favorite Oprah segments from years past. As of now, the list includes Jay Leno, Roseanne, Cybill Shepherd, Brooke Shields, Sarah Ferguson, Ivana Trump, Wynonna Judd, Diane Sawyer and Bill Cosby. Beloved, due for release next year, isn’t scheduled to wrap until mid-October, which means that Winfrey will be doing double duty until then….
Barbara Eden, who played the title genie on TV’s I Dream of jeannie, will have a cameo role in the big-screen version of the ’60s sitcom when the movie goes into production at Columbia next year. I hear Eden would play the aunt of a new Jeannie, but coproducer Sid Ganis cautions me that no deals have been set with anyone, including Eden. By the way, two actresses who have been mentioned for the role of Jeannie are Lisa Kudrow and Cameron Diaz….
While Randy Spelling’s rep strongly denies it, I’m hearing that he may be involved in a case of puppy love—Hollywood style. Spelling, the 18-year-old star of his father Aaron Spelling’s NBC soap Sunset Beach, apparently became smitten with Ashley Lyn Cafagna, a costar of NBC’s teen comedy Saved by the Bell: The New Class, when the two moved into dressing rooms down the hall from each other a few weeks ago on the NBC lot in Burbank. The only catch is that Ashley, who plays high school swim champ Liz Miller on Bell, is 14. So, says my source, her parents insist that they or a group of the couple’s friends accompany them on their dates. So far, Ashley and Randy have taken in movies and hung out together at the Spelling mansion, and they went dancing on a recent Saturday night at a Los Angeles club called Diablo. “Ashley’s a down-to-earth kid, very unspoiled,” says this source. “She sees the same in Randy.” Spelling’s rep sees their relationship quite differently. “They are friends, they have hung out, but they are definitely not dating,” he says….
It has been a tough summer for Joan Rivers’s 12-year-old Yorkshire terrier, Spike, who was recently operated on to have a cancerous growth removed from his front left leg. Spike is now resting comfortably in Rivers’s Manhattan apartment and may or may not need chemotherapy. Says Rivers of her faithful companion: “Spike’s been with me through everything—the Johnny Carson thing, the Fox firing and my husband Edgar’s suicide. We’re all devastated, but Spike’s a real trouper.” As for Rivers’s other steady companion, New York businessman and former New York State parks commissioner Orin Lehman, you can disregard the widespread reports that the two have broken off their 14-month engagement. Rivers’s rep believes the rumors of a breakup started when she was photographed not wearing the engagement ring given to her by Lehman last June. The spokesman acknowledges that Rivers did indeed recently take off the ring, but only, he insists,”so that she could put it in the vault.”