OH, DAD, POOR DAD

Antonio Sabato Jr., 24, is furious about recent reports tagging him as a "deadbeat dad." The story, which originated in the New York Post, questioned whether Sabato had been properly supporting his 1-year-old son by his ex-girlfriend, actress Virginia Madsen, 33. Sabato, who this season joined Fox's Melrose Place as Jack Parezi, called me from Austria, where he's shooting a miniseries for European TV, to say he has been taking care of Madsen, "financially, and with my heart," since he met her in late 1993. The couple's child, Jack, is "the most important thing in my life," says Sabato, who says Madsen left him earlier this year, taking the baby with her. "I was terribly in love with her," says Sabato, "but I know now that I was set up. She wanted a baby. She had one with me, and then she left." Money for the child, however, "remains my responsibility," he says, "no matter what." Madsen had no comment....

I also spoke with Chris Thompson, the executive producer of the new ABC sitcom The Naked Truth, regarding recent reports on his love life. "I am in love with Tea," he says of his show's leading lady, Tea Leoni. Thompson says his initial working friendship with her became something deeper over the summer, and in August he told his wife, Tracy, that he "wasn't happy and wanted to be with someone else." Thompson and his wife are now separated....

With books by comics Ellen DeGeneres, Tim Allen and Jerry Seinfeld all spending time on the bestseller lists, it's no surprise that ex-late night TV talk show funny man Jon Stewart has been courted for a book too. A source close to Stewart says the 32-year-old comic recently turned down a lucrative offer to write a book about generation X. Stewart nixed it, says the source, because he's uncomfortable with the subject....

And speaking of books, the working title of Howard Stern's encore volume of memoirs is Sloppy Seconds. It'll be out in mid-November....

What if O.J. Simpson is acquitted? Will he become the biggest star in Hollywood or the biggest bust, his career forever clouded by scandal? I posed this question to four top Hollywood players: an agent, a manager, a publicist and studio head. The agent: "He'll be huge. He'll have opportunities galore and will make a fortune with a big, fat, nasty book. Of course, he'll probably have to move out of town." The manager: "I think he'll have a tabloid career along the lines of Joey Buttafuoco, Tonya Harding and John Wayne Bobbitt." The publicist: "There will be an initial curiosity, and I'm sure he'll make money. But any kind of career like he had before will take a very long time and a lot of community service." The studio head: "It makes me nauseous, but the truth of the matter is that people do forget. In two or three years, who knows, he could be a hero again."

  • Contributors:
  • Hugh McCarten.