AHOY! The Love Boat has a new captain: Robert Urich. The TV vet, battling back from a bout with cancer, will play Capt. Jim Kennedy on The Love Boat: The Next Wave, to premiere in April on UPN.
CLOSING TIME: Meanwhile, Spelling Entertainment, the production house behind the original Love Boat, has announced that it will shutter its film division. The Aaron Spelling factory will concentrate on TV fare from now on.
PARTY ON: Fox can reserve a seat for Party of Five on its schedule next fall. E! Online has learned that the network has sealed a renewal deal with the series' producers. The pact may be worth as much as $2 million an episode--double what Fox is paying this year.
SEXGATE: A Las Vegas radio station is offering Monica Lewinsky $5 million to sit down for a tell-all interview about her allegedly eventful days (and nights) as a White House intern. That's double the deal Penthouse floated her way--and no nudity's required for the radio gig. Lewinsky has until March 12 to accept.
OSCAR SUNDAY? The Oscars--a fixture on Monday nights, save for 1989's Rob Lowe-Snow White debacle (that was on a Wednesday)--will move to Sundays, starting in 1999, the New York Post reports. ABC says talks about a schedule change are still under way.
BOTTOM OF THE NINTH: Baseball Hall of Fame sportscaster Harry Caray will be buried Saturday in Chicago, the hometown of his beloved Cubbies. Caray died yesterday, never recovering from a massive heart attack suffered last weekend. He was 77.
CODA: Bob Merrill--who wrote the lyrics to Jule Styne's music for Funny Girl--fatally shot himself in the head outside his Beverly Hills home Tuesday. He was 74. The famed Merrill-Styne score included the standards: "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade."
SICK BAY: Singer Rosemary Clooney is hospitalized with the flu, according to reports. The 69-year-old aunt of ER star George Clooney was stricken last week, forcing her to cancel a Carnegie Hall performance.
GOLD MEDAL: CBS ain't such a luger, after all. The much-criticized Winter Olympics helped the network to a huge win in last week's Nielsen race. Seven of the top 10 shows were installments of the games. Still, the numbers are down from the 1992 and 1994 snowfests.
SMOOTH SAILING: The Titanic soundtrack got a huge boost from the movie's 14 Oscar nods, selling a whopping 848,000 copies last week. Those are the biggest numbers ever for a soundtrack in a nondebut week.
PLAYING BALL: Luke Perry's plotting a prime-time return. The ex-Beverly Hills, 90210 resident is close to signing to star in an ABC pilot for a drama series (The Game) about a sports agent, Daily Variety reports. For all the casting news, see The Dotted Line.
WAXING LYRICAL: Lyrics for a never-recorded song dashed off by Jimi Hendrix on a 1969 airline flight have fetched $28,500 at a London auction.
LIP SERVICE? New York may have not seen the last of the Grammys yet. Award show honcho Michael Greene says the Big Apple isn't out of the running for next year's ceremony--despite bad blood between him and NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
ROCK THE CRADLE: Megadeth rocker Dave Mustaine is presumably adding lullabies to his set list now that he's a new daddy. Wife Pam gave birth to daughter Electra Nicole on January 28, it's been learned.
HOFFMAN, HELP!: It's Day Three of a supposed hunger strike by Talk Soup host John Henson. Henson says he's not eating until Dustin Hoffman stops by his E! show.