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Hollywood digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   Oct. 30, 2002 at 6:26 PM   |   Comments

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

MTV has announced that the second season of "The Osbournes" will premiere on Nov. 26.

In its first season, the breakout reality hit played as a comedy. In its second season, it is likely to feature more drama -- given Sharon Osbourne's ongoing bout with colon cancer. She told Daily Variety she will be on chemotherapy until March -- meaning she will be in treatment throughout the entire 10 episodes of the new season, which is scheduled to shoot through February.

"The Osbournes" will air Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m.

Lois Curren, MTV's senior VP of music development, told Variety the show will deal with Sharon Osbourne's health, but carefully.

"We will unveil Sharon's predicament as naturally and organically as possible," said Curren, "keeping in mind that like in the first season, we are always making sure the family is comfortable."

In its first season, "The Osbournes" won the Emmy for outstanding reality non-fiction program.


LIZA AND DAVID 'UNPLUGGED'

The New York Post reported that VH1 pulled the plug on "Liza & David" because it could not deal with David Gest -- Liza Minnelli's husband.

"We discovered what a lot of people already knew: David Gest is impossible to work with," the paper quoted a source close to the show. "David Gest redefines the term 'control freak.' He was almost insane."

Plans called for the show to premiere in VH1 on Dec. 8, but that was pushed back to January -- and now the Post reports that VH1 lawyers wrote to Gest's lawyers calling off the whole thing -- claiming breach of contract.

"In light of your ... inability to cure these breaches," said the letter, "it is with great regret and sorrow that we must notify you that we have no choice but to terminate the agreement."

The paper said Rob Weiss, head of East Coast programming for VH1, confirmed that the show will not go on.

"We've made the decision not to move forward with the 'Liza & David' show on VH1," said Weiss. "Although we continue to believe that Liza is an amazing talent, we were not given the cooperation that we were promised."

Citing sources, the paper said Gest kept Minnelli locked in their apartment, refusing to let her shoot. He also reportedly refused to let her watch dailies and forced the crew to remove their shoes and wear surgical booties inside the apartment.


LIFE AFTER 'FRIENDS'

It's been a few weeks since anyone speculated publicly about whether this will really be the last season on NBC for "Friends," but the network's entertainment president recently suggested that if the long-running hit really leaves the primetime schedule, NBC may already have its replacement lined up.

Speaking to the International Radio and Television Society Foundation in New York Tuesday, Zucker said "Will & Grace" could get the job done.

"I think we would consider it," said Zucker.

It might be asking a lot for "Will & Grace" to lead the ratings charge the same way "Friends" did -- considering that "Friends" is about a group of young, attractive and straight characters, while "Will & Grace" is about one of the few openly gay lead characters in prime time. Zucker suggested an anti-gay backlash might not materialize.

"Times are changing, and people are more open to it."


CASTING NOTES

Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball," "Die Another Day") reportedly will star in "October Squall," as a woman who gets pregnant when she is raped and decided to raise the baby.

As the child grows up, the mom begins to wonder if he isn't a little too much like his dad.

Cate Blanchett ("The Lord of the Rings") and Tommy Lee Jones ("Men in Black") are reportedly in talks to star in director Ron Howard's next project, a Western based on Thomas Eidson's novel "The Last Ride." It's the story of a man who severs ties with his family and lives for 30 years as an Apache -- and then must ride against an outcast group of Indians to help his daughter reclaim his captured granddaughter.

Angela Bassett has signed to executive produce and star in a CBS TV movie about Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist who helped slaves reach freedom via the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. Bassett starred earlier this year in "The Rosa Parks Story" on CBS.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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