By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated May 13, 2002 11:30 AM

INSTIGATED: The British tabloids are having a field day over the upcoming London stage appearances of Madonna (in the Australian comedy “Up for Grabs) and Gwyneth Paltrow (in the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Broadway drama “Proof”), notes Reuters. “Madge versus Gwynnie — Who will be crowned Queen of the West End?” asked the Evening Standard newspaper as Madonna, 43, prepares for her first preview on Monday night. Paltrow, 29, opened for previews last Wednesday. (The women are friends.) Matt Wolf, London theater critic for Variety, cheered on the so-called “West End war.” “Anything that makes theater sexy and desirable is to be applauded,” he told Reuters . . . CAST: Richard Karn, 46, who played Tim Allen’s sidekick Al Borland on TV’s “Home Improvement” from 1991-99, will become the new host of the syndicated “Family Feud,” reports the Associated Press. He replaces Louie Anderson as the game show begins its fourth season. No reason for the switch was reported . . . DESTROYED: The Cape Cod home of Aerosmith bass guitarist Tom Hamilton, 50, was destroyed in a fire Saturday night, reports the AP. No one was home at the time. Authorities are reportedly investigating that blaze, as well as another that engulfed another citizen’s home about a mile away . . . PURCHASED: “Spider-Man” star Tobey Maguire, 26, has bought a 5,000 sq.-ft., $3.7 million manse in Beverly Hills, according to Sunday’s Los Angeles Times. It is his first house. Maguire reportedly earned $4 million for his role as the lead in the current box office smash, and, notes the Times, has been guaranteed an additional $23 million to reprise the role in two sequels, the Times said. What mortgage broker would have said no?