October 19, 2004 08:00 AM

CONFIRMED: Although 12 candidates still remain on the second season of The Apprentice, Donald Trump, 58, reveals that the third installment is now filming. “It’s going very well,” Trump tells the Associated Press. “It’s a great group.” Of last week’s firee, John Willenborg, Trump added: “He’s a great guy, a terrific man in many respects. But it was not a good week for John.”

UPDATED: Former President Bill Clinton, 58, recuperating from Sept. 6 quadruple bypass surgery, has “been a much more patient patient than I would have ever guessed,” his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, told a New York radio station. “He’s really doing well.” Her remarks follow a Washington Post report that Clinton’s recovery had been slower and more painful than expected.

SUED: Author Patti Davis, daughter of late President Ronald Reagan, has sued the Salvation Army for breach of contract, saying the religious group reneged on a $15,000 speaking engagement because she supports stem-cell research, which she believes would have helped her father, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. “They said (it) was against their policy and position,” Davis’s lawyer Lawrence Fabian told Reuters. A lawyer for the Salvation Army, Michael Watters, said the lawsuit was without merit because, “There was no binding contract.” Meanwhile, on Monday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed a $3 million bond measure that would finance human embryonic stem-cell research, putting him at odds with the state Republican Party, the Associated Press reports.

REPLACED: Tony-winning Broadway star Nathan Lane, 48, is rushing to London to step in for Richard Dreyfuss, 56, in the London premiere of Mel Brooks’s hit musical The Producers after the Hollywood veteran was forced to drop out. “Following his surgery for a herniated disc in January and the re-occurrence of a shoulder injury, it has become increasingly difficult for Mr. Dreyfuss to fulfil the rigors of the role,” the producers of The Producers said in a statement.

INJURED: Singer Marc Almond, of the ’80s band Soft Cell (“Tainted Love”), was hospitalized after suffering severe head injuries in a road crash, say London police. Almond, 47, was riding as a passenger on a motorcycle when it collided with a car in central London on Sunday afternoon, a police spokesman said.

CAST: Brad Garrett, put-upon older brother Robert on CBS’s Everybody Loves Raymond is in talks with HBO for a comedy series project, says the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s in the very early stages, so in four months you could see it on Animal Planet as a puppet show,” quipped Garrett, 44. Meanwhile, Variety reports that Easy Rider and Blue Velvet star Dennis Hopper, 68, is teaming up with Matt LeBlanc’s Fort Hill Productions to develop a half-hour sitcom. The aged rebel, in what would be his first series role, reportedly would play “a groovy, free-spirited” dad (of a 2-year-old) who ends up living with his grown, much more conservative daughter and her husband.

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