The Insider

updated 05/08/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/08/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

IS GEORGE MICHAEL GOING TO BE A FREE MAN SOON?

George Michael's recording contract with Sony is valid until 2003. So said a London court nearly a year ago after Michael sued to nullify the deal, claiming, among other things, that Sony had mismarketed his last album, 1990's Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1. Yet even though Michael's appeal of that decision will not be heard until next February, sources tell me that Sony has quietly agreed to let the British singer buy his way out of the contract, freeing him to discuss a possible new deal with other labels. I'm told the two record executives whom Michael most favors are David Geffen, who along with his DreamWorks SKG partners Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg will soon launch a DreamWorks label, and Virgin Records founder Richard Branson. A source close to Michael would say only that negotiations are under way "with a number of companies."...

I hear that late-night TV talker Tom Snyder has been peddling a proposal to New York City book publishers for a behind-the-scenes volume on his more than 30 years in television. His cowriter would be Andy Meisler, a reporter at The New York Times....

Here's the latest joke that's making the rounds of agents and studio executives in Hollywood: What's the new title for Waterworld, Kevin Costner's budget-busting summer movie? Dances with Fishes....

There is a move afoot at NBC to bring Martin Short's failed prime-time situation comedy back as a late-night variety show hosted by Short. A source says NBC would air Short's new show in the Saturday Night Live time slot when SNL is on hiatus....

Actress Frances Fisher, the mother of Clint Eastwood's 20-month-old daughter Francesca Ruth, has landed a costarring role with D.B. Sweeney in Strange Luck, a one-hour dramatic pilot for Fox about a photo-journalist in San Francisco. Fisher plays a waitress who's older than Sweeney's photographer, "but there is an attraction between the two," says a Fox rep, "that could be developed if the show goes to series."...

In other pilot news, former teen idol Shaun Cassidy has created—but will not be appearing in—American Gothic, a one-hour pilot for CBS. Gothic, which features a script written by Cassidy, is a horror story about an unusual small town and its evil deputy sheriff....

And finally, to celebrate the ascent of John Tesh's latest recording, Live at Red Rocks, to the No. 1 spot on Billboard's New Age Album Chart, his Entertainment Tonight colleague Leeza Gibbons presented Tesh off-camera with a David Letter-man-style Top 10 list of reasons why the record is doing so well. The two reasons that I liked the best were No. 7, "The void has never been filled since Liberace died," and No. 4, "Madonna's using the CDs as breastplates on her next world tour."

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