BODYSLAMMED: Chad Slater, the so-called "erotic wrestler" Tom Cruise sued for $100 million for claiming the two had an affair, says he will default on the lawsuit and declare bankruptcy if the actor's lawyers press the case, reports Los Angeles' City News Service.

CRUISE CONTROL: Meanwhile, the Hollywood Reporter says Tom Cruise is in early negotiations for the lead role in Cold Mountain, the best-selling National Book Award winner about a Civil War soldier on his way home.

SICK BAY: Hollywood icon Bob Hope hospitalized in Los Angeles for what his publicist calls a case of "mild pneumonia."

AALIYAH UPDATE: According to the Miami Herald, the pilot in the Aaliyah plane crash was not licensed to fly the Cessna twin-engine craft. He also had been arrested for cocaine possession. The pilot was one of nine who perished in the crash.

AALIYAH ADD: Meanwhile, the German newspaper Die Zeit publishing excerpts from an interview conducted with Aaliyah a month ago in which she talked about a recurring dream: "Suddenly, I lift off. Far away. How do I feel? As if I am swimming in the air. Free. Weightless. Nobody can reach me. Nobody can touch me. It's a wonderful feeling."

TOGETHER AT LAST: Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant starring in an untitled romantic comedy set to be released in Christmas 2002, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Bullock will play a successful but somewhat neurotic attorney while Grant will play her charming but reckless boss.

G-MAN? Tom Hanks in talks to costar with Leonardo DiCaprio in DreamWorks' Catch Me If You Can, playing an FBI agent who successfully tracks down and captures a notorious counterfeiter and impostor. Steven Spielberg is slated to direct.

SHAMELESS CROSS-PROMOTION: Original Survivor castaways Gervase and Sue and Survivor: The Australian Outback contestants Alicia and Jeff to appear on the September 5 episode of CBS' Big Brother 2.

BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME: Bob Dylan shooting a TV commercial to promote his new album, Love and Theft. The ad, which can be previewed at BobDylan.com, will begin airing Monday. The album is due September 11.

SO SOON? The Backstreet Boys putting out a greatest hits package October 23. It will be called Chapter One and feature a new track titled "Drowning."

GOING GONDOLA: The 58th Venice International Film Festival opens Wednesday with 146 flicks competing for the coveted Golden Lion. The fest--the oldest in the world--ends September 8.

NOT SO CHEERY: The supporting cast of Becker suing Paramount Network Television for breach of contract on Tuesday, claiming the studio reneged on a deal to give them a raise when the show reached its fourth season. The cast, minus star Ted Danson, had staged a sickout earlier this summer which didn't work.

KING OF STOCK: Self-proclaimed King of Pop Michael Jackson set to preside over the opening of Nasdaq trading Thursday in New York.

IMAGINE! Lou Reed, Stone Temple Pilots, Seal and Cyndi Lauper added as performers for Come Together: A Night for John Lennon, a tribute concert to be held at New York's Radio City Music Hall on September 20. Actor Kevin Spacey will host the event.

SOUL WOMAN: Jill Scott dominating Tuesday night's Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, winning three trophies, including Entertainer of the Year.

GROUNDED: Director Mike Nichols' revival of Chekhov's The Seagull, which ended its run Sunday in Central Park, will not be headed for Broadway due to scheduling conflicts with its stars. The cast included Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Natalie Portman, John Goodman and Christopher Walken, among others.

WEST END GIRL: Former Dallas star Linda Gray taking over as the new Mrs. Robinson in the hit London stage adaptation of The Graduate. The actress, who actually appeared in the 1967 film posing as a body double for Anne Bancroft in the movie's promo material, will take over from Anne Archer on October 1.

SWAPPING STORIES: A syndicated series based on popular online auctioneer eBay is headed for television in fall 2002. The concept currently is described as a cross between Antiques Roadshow and Real People and will focus on those who connect and share their passions through the Website.