updated 08/03/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/03/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Mary and Rhoda, a sitcom that ABC is developing about America's favorite bachelorettes 20 years later, won't amuse you any time soon—but it's not the fault of stars Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper. Harper told me that although she and Moore both liked the two drafts of the first script, ABC isn't satisfied and is looking for a new writer. Originally scheduled to begin airing this fall, the show now looks to run as a mid-season replacement or in fall '99. ABC Entertainment chairman Stu Bloomberg attributes the delay to pressures to create a show as good as the original. Moore too was nervous about tampering with a classic, confiding to Harper that she was scared about competing with her younger self but felt compelled to try. "Maybe we'll fall on our faces," Harper agrees. "But every time out, you take a risk. I hope this show gets going; Mary and I aren't getting any younger." Nor is she standing idly by: Harper just made a commitment to appear this fall in Lynchburg, Va., in a one-woman show about writer Pearl Buck, All Under Heaven, in which she will play over a dozen characters in Buck's life.

It sure looks impressive when Hollywood actors do their own stunts—but the off-camera results can be downright dangerous. Cast members partying after the premiere of The Mask of Zorro told me that the film's stars—including Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins—did some of their own fencing. None too adroitly, either. In one scene filmed late at night, Banderas's sword cut the head of Stuart Wilson, who played his evil enemy. Says a forgiving Wilson: "It didn't hurt that much."

If you're nervous about asking your sweetheart for her hand, don't ask Mel Gibson for help. Phil Patelmo, a pharmacist from the Philadelphia area who attended the L.A. premiere party for Lethal Weapon 4 after winning a radio-station contest, approached Gibson with his girlfriend, Annette Moseley, in tow. Patelmo quietly showed the star a diamond ring and asked if he'd help him propose to Moseley. An awkward pause ensued while Gibson sat silently. Finally he barked to the jittery swain, "Well, spit it out! Spit it out!" (Despite the inauspicious opening, Moseley said yes.)

"This has been the longest year of my life," confesses Good Morning America coanchor Lisa McRee, whose job description is to get GMA back on track. She works in" New York City while her husband, Paramount Pictures executive Don Granger, toils in Los Angeles. Talking on the phone 10 times a day helps ease separation pains but has been of exactly no use in helping move them toward their next goal: becoming parents. The couple's solution: They bought a town-house in Manhattan, and Granger will commute East on Thursdays, back West on Sundays.

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