JACKSON TOLD TO BEAT IT

More bad news for Michael Jackson and his already sagging career: MTV and VH1, the two music video channels owned by Viacom, have pulled Jackson's latest video, "They Don't Care About Us," from their playlists because of lingering concerns it is anti-Semitic. Jackson took heat last year when his Epic album HIstory came out and "They Don't Care About Us" turned out to contain the lyrics "Jew me" and "kike me." The singer apologized and rerecorded the words "do me" and "strike me" in their place. But when Jackson made the video in February, with Spike Lee directing, the phrases used included a muffled "chew me" and "hike me." The videos—there were actually two versions, one with more violent scenes than the other—both aired, but were pulled two weeks ago. MTV spokeswoman Carol Robinson tells me that while Jackson and Lee apparently did not return to the original phrases, "there remains the perception that the tone of the song is anti-Semitic, and as a result we are no longer airing it." Jackson's rep, Bob Jones, says the singer "is not a racist, as evidenced by his many endeavors on behalf of people of all religions." An Epic rep agreed, registering disappointment with MTV's and VH1's actions....

Look for Sean Penn and Robin Wright, who have been vacationing in Hawaii, to get married any day now. They already have two children, daughter Dylan, 5, and son Hopper, 2....

There are major problems on the movie Devil's Own, a political thriller starring Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford. Sources say there is almost daily rewriting going on with the script and that the budget for the drama, which has been shooting in Manhattan since early February, has ballooned from a reported $70 million to more than $85 million....

The cast of NBC's Friends is on hiatus, but they're not just sitting around sipping java. Here are the movie roles they will do before returning to the set in early August: Matthew Perry will play a Las Vegas nightclub promoter who falls in love with a dancer in the romantic comedy Fools Rush In. Courteney Cox Arquette will portray an anchor woman in director Wes Craven's psychological thriller Scary Movie. Jennifer Aniston plays a single woman who pals around with a group of couples in the romantic comedy Picture Perfect. David Schwimmer makes his directorial debut and stars in an ensemble comedy with the working title Stepping in the Dogwater. Lisa Kudrow costars with Mira Sorvino in a comedy-drama about two women heading for their high school reunion, Romy and Michelle. As of this writing, Matt LeBlanc is considering a few projects but has no deal set....

That was quick. In early March, Clueless star Alicia Silverstone and Happy Gilmore 's Adam Sandler were dating. Now they've split, and I hear it was Sandler's idea....

Discrimination against older writers may be rampant in Hollywood, but don't blame Bill Cosby, 58. Since recently firing Richard Day, 32, as head writer-producer for the pilot of his as-yet-untitled CBS sitcom and replacing him with Dennis Klein, 49, Cosby says that his entire writing team is now Klein's age and older. "I'm playing a grandfather on the show," says Cosby. "I needed to surround myself with writers who have some idea what that's about."

  • Contributors:
  • Hugh McCarten.