The Fix

Is Madonna to blame for heart attack? Is Sharon Stone finally gonna make "Basic Instinct 2"? And why are Jeffs Zucker and Katzenberg so steamed at Fox?

Published July 12, 2004 9:09AM (EDT)

Afternoon Briefing:
Madonna to blame for heart attack? Oscar-winning director John Schlesinger, who died in 2003, wrote in recently revealed letters and production notes that Madonna was one of the reasons he had heart failure just after shooting his last film, "The Next Best Thing." In a letter to his agent, written from his hospital bed, Schlesinger griped, "I am f***ing angry with Tom [Rosenberg, the film's producer] being influenced by Madonna. We have tried all of these changes before ... I do not for one moment think that their behaviour has not added to the reasons I have ended up here." One of Madonna's demands was for the producers to use computer-generated imagery to "beautify" shots of her in the film. (Telegraph)

It's a go? Sharon Stone, who has been discussing the possibility of a "Basic Instinct 2" with the film's producers for years now, has agreed to do the sequel -- as of now. The star had been demanding quite a few perks, including multiple nannies, millions of dollars, and first-class everything before she would reprise her role as the bisexual writer Catherine Tramell. No word on who gave in on what, but as of today Stone says, "The producers are putting the film together. It looks terrific." (Sky News)

Hey, those are our tacky ideas! NBC chief Jeff Zucker told the Television Critics Press Association that he's p.o.'d at Fox for ripping off his and other network's reality-show concepts. Fox is doing a boxing show ("Next Great Champ") that will run before NBC's "Contender," and Fox rushed its "Trading Spouses" into summer release after ABC announced its fall show "Wife Swap." Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks, who is a producer of "The Contender," said the "sanctity of an idea is an ideal that I was taught from the very moment I arrived in this town" 30 years ago and that what Fox did was disheartening. He added, "If imitation is the highest form of flattery, theft is the lowest form of creativity." (Variety via Yahoo News)

Rapper reality: Jadakiss has released a single called "Why" to MTV and radio -- and where you are in the country may determine what version you hear. The song contains the line "Why did Bush knock down the Towers?" but MTV got the video without that line and radio stations around the country are deciding which version they'll play. One program director in Washington said, "I don't want Secret Service knocking down my door in the middle of the night. I'll stick to the clean version." But Michael Saunders at WWPR in New York has played the version with the controversial question and says, "No one has called about it. Even with women, who listen to lyrics more, no one has noticed it enough to call." (Billboard via Yahoo)

Career change: The former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam, who helped engineer the Good Friday peace agreement, is now working on other forms of pacification by co-writing a sex column for a laddie mag in England called Zoo. She and Jodie Marsh rated Prime Minister Tony Blair a 10 out of 10 for sex appeal. (Ananova)

-- Karen Croft

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Turn On:
Based on the Truman Capote book of the same name, the 1967 film "In Cold Blood" (10 p.m. ET; TCM), about the murder of a family in Kansas, was nominated for three Academy Awards and features a score by Quincy Jones. It was inevitable that eventually a show would come along and look at the dark side of plastic surgery; on Monday, the Learning Channel steps up with "You Ruined My Looks" (9 p.m. ET; TLC).

-- Scott Lamb

Morning Briefing:
Coming to a convention near you ... Ron Reagan, son of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, has signed on to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Boston on July 27, the second night of the four-night event. But don't expect him to do a total rip job on the White House's current occupant. "If they had asked me to say a few words about throwing George Bush out of office, I wouldn't do it," Reagan says, explaining that he's merely trying to get exposure for an issue he and his mother feel passionately about. "This gives me a platform to educate people about stem-cell research. The conservative right has a rather simplistic way of characterizing it as baby killing. We're not talking about fingers and toes and brains. This is a mass of a couple hundred undifferentiated cells." Meanwhile, if the Republicans want a Reagan son at their convention, Ron, who says he could not "in good conscience" risk appearing to endorse the Bush administration, suggests they invite his half-brother, Michael, who opposes stem-cell research. "Then we could have dueling Reagan sons." (Knight Ridder Newspapers)

Blame too much caffeine -- or maybe Tom Hanks? Hanks has sent a $1,000 Illy espresso machine to the journalists who cover the White House after he discovered, while touring their briefing room over Memorial Day weekend with his wife and one of his sons, that it had no coffee maker. The gift was accompanied by the following note: "I hope this machine will make the 24-hour cycle of news a bit more pleasant. Add water, insert pod, press button and REPORT. All good things, Tom Hanks." Ron Hutcheson, president of the White House Correspondents' Association, sent the actor a thank you in return: "I can't promise favorable coverage if you ever run for president, but you have at least earned the gratitude of the White House press corps with your generous gift." (Reliable Source)

Unfair to Fox? Fox spokeswoman Irene Briganti has accused the New York Times Magazine of giving her company inadequate time to come up with a response to a piece it ran yesterday on "Outfoxed," a documentary about Fox News. However, Robert Boynton, who wrote the piece for the magazine, says Briganti's wrong about his trying to sandbag her. "I really wanted a response," he says. "This was not an ambush." [Editor's note: Salon will be reviewing the "Outfoxed" documentary on Tuesday.] (Washington Post)

Speaking of outfoxing: Former New York Post senior media reporter Dan Cox says he's not surprised that Rupert Murdoch may be the source for the paper's front-page veep gaffe last week -- and that Murdoch regularly force-fed him items the whole time he worked at the paper. "Not only were we not allowed to ask Murdoch any specific questions about these 'tips,' we were not allowed to check their veracity -- anywhere," writes Cox. "Murdoch expected us to use them wholesale, unattributed, of course. Sometimes he was right. Sometimes he was egregiously wrong." (Romenesko's letters)

She done it for charity: Paris Hilton has reportedly settled her legal battle with her amateur porn tape costar Rick Salomon in exchange for a share of the profits of their tape. One "insider" says Salomon has agreed to pay Hilton around $400,000, as well as a percentage of sales of "One Night in Paris," and has dropped his defamation suit against her. A friend of Hilton's says the heiress intends to give the moola away: "Paris is certainly not capitalizing on the tape ... She has insisted that an ample portion of the proceeds are donated to charity." (Rush and Molloy)

When journalists attack ... each other? Caught on tape in the Senate Press Conference room: a photographer for CBS news and a reporter for the New York Post ... knocking each other around. All hell apparently broke loose between CBS snapper P.G. Cuong and the Post's Vince Morris during a homeland security press conference on Thursday when Morris stepped in front of Cuong's camera and refused to move. Cuong shoved Morris; Morris shoved back. Witnesses eventually broke up the scuffle. (NBC 4)

Oh, and also ... Kathie Lee Gifford's 14-year-old son, Cody, and Paula Zahn's 15-year-old daughter, Haley Cohen, will bring their "Eyewitness Kids News" show to New York TV this week (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown) ... Roy Horn has reunited with Montecore, the white tiger who mauled him last year (Page Six) ... Al Franken is said to be "really serious" about making a run for senator in his home state of Minnesota a few years hence (Page Six) ... And Michael Moore wants to put out an album of music inspired by "Fahrenheit 9/11" (Page Six).

Money Quote:
Drea de Matteo on trading in the role of Adriana on "The Sopranos" for the role of Joey's sister, Gina, on "Friends" spinoff "Joey": "I was sick and tired of crying every single week. I needed to get away from all of that insanity, the beatings and the choking and the hair pulling. I just want to have some fun." (N.Y. Daily News)

-- Amy Reiter

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By Salon Staff

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