TV Guide News


MICHAEL DOUGLAS'S WORK OF "ART"

To catch a thief, you're going to have follow Michael Douglas's tracks. Variety reports that MGM has optioned the Peter Landesman investigative article "Art Con of the Century" for Douglas to star in and produce. Playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) will pen the script. Douglas would play John Drewe, a debonair gent who, for nine years in the '80s and '90s, paid John Myatt to paint classic knockoffs, then peddled 200 of the "works" as the real thing, forging declarations of authenticity along the way. Scotland Yard nabbed Drewe after getting Myatt to confess; Drewe is currently serving a six-year term. read more

NBC GIVES ITSELF THE GOLD

The Summer Olympics in Sydney are still more than two months away, but NBC already is pole-vaulting some lofty numbers into the air. The network will cram no less than 441½ hours of Down Under Games coverage (all of it tape-delayed) on the Mother Ship Peacock, MSNBC and CNBC. It also projects that 215 million viewers will tune in at some point over the two-plus weeks. Cable operators, however, will have the choice of sticking with regular CNBC and MSNBC programming. Can't miss Business Center! read more

FLETCH LIVES AGAIN!

Kevin Smith is bringing back Fletch to the big screen. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Miramax has optioned the rights to Gregory Mcdonald's 11-book series, and Smith will write and direct the first Fletch film in more than a decade, likely to be Fletch Won. "It's the story of how Fletch became Fletch," Smith, a self-proclaimed "huge fan" of the books, told the Reporter. "Off the top of my head, I'm leaning towards Ben Affleck [for the title role]. Or Jason Lee. We'll also see if we can get Chevy Chase involved." read more

WB's BABY DUE DATE

After a five-year gestation period (read: in development), WB will trot out its bouncing Baby Blues July 28 at 8 pm/ET, Variety reports. The half-hour cartoon is based on the comic strip of the same name and centers around a twentysomething couple's (voices by Mike O'Malley and Julia Sweeney) adventures in parenting. For Mr. O'Malley's sake, let's hope this TV foray is a little more successful than his last one. read more

DEPRESSED DOWNEY MAKES 8 CENTS AN HOUR

Robert Downey Jr. says in the August issue of Vanity Fair that he's "sinking further" into depression as he serves a three-year prison sentence for drug possession. Holed up since August 1999 at the California Substance Abuse Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, Downey shares a cell with four other inmates and earns eight cents an hour working in the prison kitchen. "Sometimes I'm just dead.... I'm ready to get out," he tells the magazine. Downey, who adds that he's been drug-free since June 1999, could be released as early as November after time off for good behavior. read more

MADONNA'S MANSE SOLD

The Burgundians, an aspiring pop group described as a cross between the Monkees, 'N Sync and the Spice Girls, have purchased Madonna's Biscayne Bay, FL, mansion for $7.5 million, according to AP. The five-member band, obviously knowledgeable about the importance of publicity, is backed by an anonymous investor. read more

ABC OK'S DAMON-AFFLECK SHOW

ABC has given a go-ahead to Oscar winners Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (Good Will Hunting) to serve as executive producers on a new reality series called The Runner. The series, which the network says will debut later this season, will feature a single contestant crossing the country while trying to avoid being identified by viewers. read more

PERFECT STORM AUCTION

Lady Grace, the sister vessel to the Andrea Gail used in the filming of The Perfect Storm, is going up for auction on eBay. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the boat will benefit The Gloucester Fund, which serves the communities affected by the real-life storm that inspired the new George Clooney pic. — Rich Brown read more

USA LOSES WWF

A Delaware judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit brought by USA Networks to keep its top-rated World Wrestling Federation telecasts from moving to Viacom/CBS-owned TNN when USA's contract expires this September. The court decided that USA could not possibly match Viacom-CBS's offer to further expand Vince McMahon's already huge wrestling empire with broadcast network specials and other promotional efforts. read more

POST-SUPER BOWL SURVIVOR?

It's still quite a ways off, but word has it CBS is already mapping out plans to debut the second season of Survivor after the Super Bowl on Jan. 28. At least that's the word according to Survivor exec producer Mark Burnett in The Hollywood Reporter. CBS brass say no final decision has yet been made on airdates for the Survivor sequel, which will be set in the Australian outback. Meanwhile, Survivor junkies will be happy to learn that CBS has decided to expand the first season's Aug. 23 final episode to two hours. read more

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