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Perry making new friends in rehab

GOOD MORNING: “Friends” co-star Matthew Perry has checked himself into the Hazelden Foundation of Minneapolis for treatment of the early stages of what is described as “dependency on a prescription medication.” The young star and his family are grateful for everyone’s concern and request privacy while he completes the treatment. He will be OK to return for the Fall season of the NBC series starting up in August. … L.L. Cool J. and Snoop Doggy Dogg are in Live Entertainment’s “The Real,” but producer Paul Heller says neither will give a rap: They play strictly dramatic roles. And L.L. Cool J. told Heller he really wanted to play this role to show the black man as a caring father — he has three children of his own. Although they don’t perform (musically) on camera, Heller allows, “Hopefully they’ll do a soundtrack.” The movie’s directed by Darin Scott, who, says Heller, “has encyclopedic knowledge of the film noir. And this pic will have the influence of Robert Aldrich, Stanley Kubrick and early Hitchcock.” And all that in a film budgeted at “under $5 million.” Heller, who also exec produced Live’s “Hotel de Love,” says with two low-budget pix completed in a year, it’s better than being in development hell waiting for the biggies to get a go-ahead. Meanwhile, he is in development with Propaganda on “Worlds Apart,” a romantic drama in the big-budget class, and at WB (with Propaganda) on Michael Crichton’s “Genes.” And at Universal with “Overtime,” a comedy by Howard Gould about an ad exec who holds two agency jobs: one a winner, the other –. It’s budgeted at –?

THE RUMOR MILL is working overtime on Michael Cimino. Among the reports was one that he’d changed his name to “Michelle” Cimino, even in the Directors Guild Directory. False: the Oscar-winning helmer (“The Deer Hunter”) remains Michael with the DGA. A further, rampant rumor had Cimino changing his gender via surgery. Once again, false. Cimino added, “I wouldn’t look pretty as a woman. But would it look good for business if I said ‘Yes’?” Seriously, Cimino said his “new look” is because he’s lost about 80 pounds since doing “Sunchaser” with Woody Harrelson last year. “He (Woody) had me on fat-free foods, yoga, etc. I am now back to my college wrestling weight. When I was doing ‘The Deer Hunter’ I was accused of being a right-wing Fascist. When I was doing ‘Heaven’s Gate’ I was accused of being a left-wing radical and when I was doing ‘The Year of the Dragon,’ I was called a racist. And now this!” He is happily working on many projects, including two indies set in L.A. The first is the largest Korean-financed pic, about Korean gangsters in the U.S. during the Al Capone era. The other is titled “The Dream Place.” He is also writing a screenplay about pro golf. If this isn’t enough Cimino’s writing his first novel, “Sailing to Byzantium.” And, oh yes, he admitted he once “was tired of playing the role of Michael Cimino” and thought about changing his name to “Clay Hope Jr., a rodeo rider!”

JEFF GOLDBLUM GOES BEFORE the cameras Thursday — a gratis appearance in a p.s.a. for Fast Forward to End Hunger, for the End Hunger Network. It’s to call attention to the issue of childhood hunger in America. Goldblum’s a board member of the group founded by Jeff Bridges. He tapes at Blockbuster on Sunset. He has also designed a T-shirt with a T-Rex and flying saucer (“Jurassic Park” and “Independence Day”) — symbols to help sell the campaign. Many celebs have also designed personalized shirts for the End Hunger fund. … Goldblum is off on a global p.a. tour for “The Lost World” and is anxious to see the reaction in Tokyo, where a scene’s added with Japanese tourists exclaiming, “That’s why I left Japan” when escaping the T-Rex as it invades San Diego. … Max Schell plays the Vatican cardinal who oversees the vampire-eradication program in “John Carpenter’s Vampires.” Schell was also a cardinal in “The Thorn Birds”. … Rod Steiger stars in “The Flying Dutchman,” Gothic thriller produced by Gene Kirkwood and directed by Robin B. Murray. Kirkwood’s also made a deal to produce Babaloo Mandel’s script “Joe’s Dream” The day-to-day management of the Improv on Melrose is being turned over from Budd Friedman and Mark Lonow to Mark Anderson and Robert Hartman, who own-run five Improv franchises: Irvine, Brea, Dallas, D.C. and Tempe. Friedman says “They’re terrific operators” and they will give him more time to open up more franchises — Coconut Grove is bowing next week, then New Orleans, Europe and Australia. The Improv here is celebrating its 22nd anni Jayson Kane is no longer involved with Westwood’s Duet eatery-nitery. His interest has been acquired by the partners. … And Joe Stellinisegued from the Mirage to be a market executive at the 2,500-room Rio Hotel in Vegas. … Jack Valenti undergoes surgery Monday on a ruptured tendon on his right arm. It’ll be in a sling eight weeks. First, Friday, Valenti is keynote speaker for the Asia Society convening at Disney Studios.

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