GOOD MORNING: Is life imitating art or art imitating life? The final scene of the Michael Caine starrer “The Debtors” is set in court. And on Feb. 7 the pic’s director Evi Quaid and husband Randy, who co-stars, appear in L.A. Federal Court at a creditors’ meeting. On Jan. 6 they declared bankruptcy (Chapter 7) in L.A. Federal Court. That action followed a lengthy and bitter legal dispute — as well as a philosophical one about the pic’s content — with billionaire Charles Simonyi, who put up $12.9 million for the film. The Quaids put up $3.5 million. Some of their differences were printed in my column of June 25, 1999, during the filming.The arguments continued into lengthy and expensive legal battles. Simonyi offered me a “no comment” when I asked why he had sought (and won) an injunction against the release of the pic. Simonyi’s attorney, Larry Shire, also replied, “I don’t talk to the press.” However, Leslie Ann Boyce, representing the Quaids, noted that the bankruptcy trustee’s job is “to maximize the assets of the Quaids — and that maximum asset is the film — when it is released.” Evi describes “Debtors” as a “sex comedy.” When I first reported on the film, Evi told me, “I’ve been encouraged to tone down a scene about the pic’s S&M fashion-heavy party sequence in which a member of the German rock band Rammstein wears rubber genitalia.” She said Charles Simonyi didn’t like the scene. Here comes the judge.
AND TALKING ABOUT BANKRUPTCY: Robert Earl, whose Planet Hollywood came out of bankruptcy in record time last Friday, winged to Hollywood this week for a fast round of confabs as he starts to renew the Planets with the same enthusiasm as he did at their start. Among his plans are: the opening of a Planet on Hollywood Boulevard near the new Academy theater. It will replace the recently shuttered staid site on Wilshire Boulevard in BevHills. He’s also shifting the initial Planet on 57th Street to Times Square with a TV studio atop, looking out on the ever-present throngs of tourists (and locals) in the streets below. Earl also has plans for a Planet Hollywood Web site with celeb info and movie memorabilia and merchandise for sale — to be expanded from the current eatery stores. He has already begun talking to new, younger stars to become part of the Planet’s attraction to the ever-increasing entertainment-going public. He’ll add music stars to the film-TV rosters. And yes, these youngsters will be paged to participate in a new Planet Hollywood stock offering to be on the NASDAQ. Two of the original Planet Hollywood participants, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis, will continue to be principals. They were always active participants at almost every Planet Hollywood opening — sallying forth into the crowds of fans with handshakes — and free souvenirs. And Willis always had a ball leading his band playing into the early hours of the opening-night mornings. At Mr. Chow’s Wednesday night, Earl was shmoozing with Stallone’s “Get Carter” producer Mark Canton, who was there with Jake Bloom, who repped many of the original stars in their Planet Hollywood deals. Also in attendance, Larry Gordon, Jennifer Lopez’s manager Benny Medina, Seal and Rupert Everett, who co-stars with Madonna in the upcoming “The Next Best Thing,” in which he fathers her child. Everett was enthusiastically telling Earl his ideas for Hollywood parties — to be held in the new Planet Hollywoods. The Planets look to be in orbit again.
IT’S VERY SAD,” AARON SPELLING SAID of Fox’s decision not to renew his 10-year “Beverly Hills 90210.” By season’s end they will have completed 298 shows — and he hopes to add a couple to make it 300. Meanwhile, he continues to currently have four shows working, plus “Titans,” a one-hour pilot for NBC in the works. He is also planning a half-hour sitcom for Danny Gans, the exciting Las Vegas star who gets his own 1500-seat theater at the Mirage to bow in late March. In the Spelling series, the multi-talented Gans will be a family man — who goes out nights to do his shows. Spelling admits, “I grew up with Dean, Jerry, Sammy — Danny Gans is one of the most talented entertainers I have ever met.”
FIRST THE SEQUEL THEN THE PREQUEL: “Battlefield Earth: 2000,” which opens May 12 in 3000 screens, covers only the first 500 pages (of 1,000) of L.Ron Hubbard’s book. But producers John Travolta (who stars) Jonathan Krane, and Elie Samaha have an option for the remaining pages — the sequel — and they’re talking to Corly Mandel about writing it. The Hubbard projects are repped by Author Services Inc. whose senior veep Javier Ruiz tells me there will also be a prequel now being written by Algis Budrys. Of course, everything depends on the success of the first, a $100 million extravaganza that also has an enormous merchandising licensing list including toys, games, books, etc. . . . Talk about inspiration: Kenny Rogers had been paged last year for a guestint in “Touched by an Angel” but his singing dates prevented him from accepting. Fade in: His hit record, “Buy Me a Rose” hits the air and “Angel” pages him back to play a role — based on the story in the song. And yes, “Rose” is also heard in a montage with Michael Nouri and Kathy Baker. Kenny also performs “You Looked So Beautiful” (which he co-wrote). The seg airs Feb.6. Rogers starts work on a new album in 10 days — it’s country. “That’s what I do best,” he allows. Meanwhile he plays Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal this weekend and has a year’s dates set at the Hilton in Vegas. “I do well at casinos,” he admitted, “because of ‘The Gambler.'”