Michael Madsen (Donnie Brasco), who plays a vigilante on Vengeance Unlimited, the ABC series that launched this fall, is in a court battle of his own. Madsen, who has been divorced from his second wife, Jeannine, for four years (and has since remarried), was recently awarded temporary primary custody of their two children, ages 4 and 8, after a court-appointed therapist for the kids and a therapist working with Jeannine jointly submitted a suspected child-abuse report against her. Jeannine's lawyer stresses that no determination of child abuse has been made, and that on Dec. 11 there will be a full hearing in L.A. based on an investigation by the Department of Children's Services. At that time permanent custody will be decided. "This incident has been blown way out of proportion, and I expect to be cleared when the investigation is completed," says Jeannine.
Christian Slater, who has been getting rave reviews for his performance in Side Man, his first Broadway role in 15 years, was a bit startled after his first preview show when his mom, Mary Jo Slater, a casting director in L.A., showed up with 10 family friends who had known Christian since he was in diapers. "We all went upstairs and congratulated him one at a time. He was overwhelmed," says Mary Jo, adding that during her trip to Manhattan she and her son wandered through the city and had "the best time we have spent together in a long while."
Critics who groused that the new fantasy Meet Joe Black, costarring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins, was too long at three hours, would have enjoyed director Martin Brest's reaction to his own film at its New York City premiere: At one point, he fell asleep. "I had been working around the clock for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks before the premiere," says Brest. On the plus side, he says, "I was just so happy we had a copy of the movie to show to the audience."