updated 08/07/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/07/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Even though it was reported in June that Liza Minnelli needs back surgery and a left hip replacement, the entertainer has yet to have either operation. The reason? She first needs to lose weight, upon the advice of her doctor. Minnelli's publicist Michael Hartman won't say how many pounds the multi-talented performer has shed. But she will soon be ready for back surgery, which is the immediate concern. "It's working well and she's in great spirits," Hartman says of the diet started in mid-May. Minnelli has already had two right hip operations and in the spring canceled her touring Broadway show Minnelli on Minnelli, a musical tribute to her late father, Vincente, because of pain and double pneumonia. The show was to run until the end of the year with stops in Chicago, Boston, Miami, Minneapolis and Detroit.

What would you do if your not-yet-on-the-air television show was in disarray? If you're Michael Richards, who played nutty neighbor Kramer on Seinfeld, you take advice from Jerry Seinfeld. The comedian flew from New York City to L.A. to assist his old friend with The Michael Richards Show after the pilot was revamped by NBC and the entire cast, with the exception of Richards, changed. Seinfeld sat in on a script reading and offered a few suggestions. The show now appears back on track. New faces include William Devane, formerly of Knots Landing, who plays the head of an L.A. detective agency with a celebrity clientele, and Saturday Night Live alum Tim Meadows, who I hear is hoping NBC execs will let him keep his long dreadlocks.

Count Rob Lowe among Harry Potter fans. Every night he reads Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to an appreciative audience—his sons Matthew, 6, and John Owen, 4. Still, the West Wing star needed assurance that buying J.K. Rowling's latest novel on the fourth day, and not the first, didn't make him a bad dad. "That wasn't so awful, right?" he asked.

I hear that Kirk Douglas told guests during a small, private dinner at Fouquet's in Paris on July 20 that it is Catherine Zeta-Jones's wish to marry Michael Douglas after the birth of their child in August and that the wedding will not be in the next few weeks, as has been reported.

Jim Carrey recently rushed into Kakemoto, a new Beverly Hills restaurant, to use the bathroom. The men's room was occupied by the chef Masakazu Nonomura, who spoke to the actor in Japanese through the locked door. Carrey politely replied that he didn't speak Japanese and dashed into the ladies room, imitating a woman's walk on his way, much to the delight of the staff.

Fast takes: Goldie Hawn's daughter Kate Hudson is dating Black Crowes vocalist Chris Robinson. On July 23 he accompanied the actress and her dog Clara Bow to the Santa Monica set of The Cutting Room, a comedy in which she has a small role....

I hear that Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal may purchase a unit in Las Vegas's Park Towers, a 20-story luxury high-rise due to open in the fall. But first the 7'1" center wants a basketball court installed near the tennis court.

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