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NIGHTMARE: DreamWorks SKG announces it will not build its controversial studio by the sea. Financing problems blamed.

BOX OFFICE: Wild Wild West opened with an estimated $7 mil Wednesday; the South Park flick, with $4.8 mil, Exhibitor Relations says. Both starts termed "pretty solid."

DINO KILLER: Phantom Menace to move up to No. 4 on the all-time earners list today. Through Wednesday, the Star Wars flick stood at $357.76 mil; Jurassic Park at $357.78 mil.

BLIMEY! In Britain, Fox nixing plans for 24-hour Phantom Menace premiere-night screenings, reportedly because the studio worried the early-bird shows wouldn't sell out, Daily Variety says.

SCREAMER: In California, two teens who said they were inspired to kill by the horror hit Scream found guilty of murder.

BROKEN RECORD: Rapper DMX busted (again), this time in New Jersey for alleged illegal possession of weapons and, um, pit bulls.

TACKLED: In Los Angeles, ex-jock/actor Jim Brown, 63, formally facing charges of making terrorist threats against his wife, 25.

MATERIAL GIRL: Madonna suing a financial firm for $2.5 million, accusing it of giving her bad advice.

BAD SPICE: Geri Halliwell to be a no-show at the weekend wedding for ex-Spice Girls mate Posh. She reportedly was invited.

TAKE THAT, BARBRA: Bette Midler getting into the Y2K business, signing on for a New Year's Eve show at Vegas' Mandalay Bay Resort. Top ticket price: $500.

MEANWHILE... Comics Alan King and Red Buttons and Love Boat exile Charo to headline millennium cruises for the Holland America line. Dramamine not included.

TO THE LAMBS? Prolific scribe David Mamet in talks to pen the screenplay for the planned Silence of the Lambs sequel, the Hollywood Reporter says.

AWOL: Eddie Murphy was so miffed at Fox for benching The PJs until midseason, another actor handled the star's voice-over chores for two new episodes of the toon, reports say.

MURPHY ADD: Variety says the comic is now back in the fold.

MODELS X: Halle Berry to play Storm; Rebecca Romijn-Stamos to do Mystique, in the upcoming superhero flick, X-Men, Daily Variety says. For more casting news, see Dotted Line.

FAVORITE SON: Scotsman Sean Connery turning out in full Highland dress for today's opening of the Scottish Parliament.

OOPS: Veteran actor Ben Gazzara's name misspelled ("Gazarra") in the closing credits of Spike Lee's Summer of Sam, The New York Times notes.

LOSING HOPE: Chicago Hope costar (and survivor) Adam Arkin complaining the cast purge in the CBS' series season finale was unprofessional, in TV Guide.

ROCK ON: Chris Rock tapped to host the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards, September 9 in New York City.

GROOVY: The Insane Clown Posse and Moby among five new acts added to the bill of Woodstock '99, July 23-25 in Rome, New York.

CHARITY: Eric Clapton led a star-studded (Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan, etc.) concert Wednesday in New York to benefit his island rehab center. Cable's VH1 to broadcast the show July 27.

DISBAND: Influential grunge outfit Jesus Lizard calling it quits after 10 years, allstar says.

V DAY: Half of all TV sets made after today to feature V-chip technology, allowing parents to block shows featuring violence, sex and salty language.

ON THE MEND: Singer/songwriter Ray Stevens ("Gitarzan") to be back on stage in September, declaring himself cancer-free two weeks after surgery on his prostate.

SICK BAY: Outgoing People's Court judge Ed Koch in stable condition in a New York hospital after suffering a mild heart attack.

SO LONG: Sylvia Sidney, whose acting career spanned 70 years, died today of throat cancer at age 88. Credits included: Beetlejuice.

FAREWELL: Reggae singer Dennis Brown ("No Man Is an Island") dead in a Jamaica hospital at age 42. Cause of death not yet confirmed.