POLANSKI UPDATE: Roman Polanski's camp is saying Wednesday there is no deal (yet) to negotiate the fugitive director's return to Hollywood--and that reports to the contrary are "purely speculative." Polanski fled the states for France 20 years ago, after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
ALPHABET CITY: Debuting on a TV near you Wednesday: The letters D, L, S and V. They're the Industry's new content rating labels. In case you can't tell that there's sex on NYPD Blue, a handy S will appear on the screen to remind you. (The D's for suggestive dialogue; the L for coarse language; the V for violence.)
RATINGS ADD: Vice President Al Gore has now joined the growing chorus from Washington, urging NBC to get with the ratings program. The network is the only broadcast outlet to resist branding its programs with the new labels.
MORE NOTHING: Add Sears to the list of at least seven companies now that won't be buying ad time on ABC's new drama series Nothing Sacred. The network's trying to counter resistance by offering bargain rates. A 30-second spot during the show costs only $55,000.
THEORY OF RELATIVITY: Nancy Sinatra's new Website has issued a swift rebuttal to a newspaper article claiming she and her siblings are battling their step-mother for control of Frank Sinatra's fortune. The step-mother, meanwhile, has issued a swift rebuttal of a quote attributed to her on Nancy's site.
RAT'S TALE: HBO is reportedly getting ready to turn the antics of Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack cronies--including Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.--into a TV movie. No word yet on casting.
TAKING CREDIT: Hollywood's screenwriting union is doing right by its blacklisted colleagues of the 1950s and 1960s--restoring their credits on 23 films, including 1952's Ivanhoe.
GETTING GUMP: The new book by the author of Forrest Gump is a hot property in Hollywood. Winston Groom says his publisher sent a single copy of Such a Pretty, Pretty Girl to one producer--and before he knew it, everybody worth his or her cel phone on the West Coast had one.
CHARTING SUCCESS: No growing pains for Boyz II Men. The soulful singing group's new album debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. album charts, for the week ended September 28. That ends Mariah Carey's brief, one-week stay there.
MISSING DIANA: Ex-royal-turned-TV-pitchwoman Sarah Ferguson says she's reminded of her former sister-in-law, Princess Diana, every day. Fergie's first comments regarding Diana's death were to be broadcast Wednesday on ABC's PrimeTime Live.
JOB OFFER: A Tampa, Florida, radio station has extended an olive branch to disgraced sportscaster Marv Albert. WFLZ-FM wants the ex-NBC announcer to join its stable of "shock jocks." Albert's agent says he's not ruling out any offers.
STUNT CASTING: Judd Hirsch and Bob Newhart will be overrun by their old costars on a November 3 episode of their new CBS sitcom, George & Leo. Among those putting in some face time: Taxi's Jeff Conaway, Newhart's Peter Scolari, and The Bob Newhart Show's Marcia Wallace. What, no Dear John? Actually, yes. Look for Billie Bird and other alum.
OUT WITH A BANG: CBS' Murphy Brown was to begin its 10th, and--star Candice Bergen swears--last season Wednesday night, unveiling its touted breast-cancer storyline.
THE SUBJECT WAS ROSES: Comedian Carol Burnett has been named grand marshal of the 109th Tournament of Roses Parade, to be held (per usual) January 1 in Pasadena, California.
TOY STORY: A New York auction house is selling off Howdy Doody memorabilia in honor of the dummy's 50th birthday. Doody's patron, Buffalo Bob, authorized the sale, which started Wednesday and continues through October 24.
IVANA BE ALONE: Ivana Trump is divorced--again. Donald Trump's ex is now also Riccardo Mazzucchelli's ex. Her second divorce became final Monday. Ivana and Mazzucchelli's union lasted 22 months.
ROPING RANDY: Singer Randy Travis is the first to sign with DreamWorks' new country-music label. The Travis deal is viewed as a crucial image-building deal for the upstart company.
BUSTED: Canadian authorities found cocaine on the Rolling Stones' plane at an airport there Monday. Before you go jumping to (wrong) conclusions, officials say the substance belonged to Blues Traveler bassist Bob Sheehan. Blues Traveler is an opening act on the Stones' current tour. Sheehan was busted for possessing two grams of cocaine.
NAME GAME: A judge in Las Vegas has ruled that Herb Reed is the only Platter alum that can perform under the name The Platters. Reed founded the soulful group, known for the hits "Only You" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," in 1953.
FINE ARTS: The National Endowment for the Arts has found an unlikely funding angel: The government. Until recently, Congress had it in for the arts agency. Now, a House-Senate conference committee has voted to pour $98 million into the NEA in 1998.
ON HOLD: That Oct. 9 Prince benefit concert, which would have teamed the Artist with the Boxer (Muhammad Ali), has been indefinitely postponed. Organizers say they need more time to set up a television broadcast.
R.I.P.: Screenwriter Dorothy Kingsley, with credits ranging from Kiss Me Kate to the original Angels in the Outfield, has died. She was 87...And in Provo, Utah, writer Samuel Woolley Taylor, whose books Flubber and The Absent-Minded Professor inspired the Disney movies of the same names, has died. He was 90.