News, April 9: Rodney Dangerfield Undergoes Brain Surgery, Chow Yun-Fat Stuck in Hong Kong, Nicolas Cage Joins Superhero Ranks, More…

Top Story: Rodney Dangerfield Undergoes Brain Surgery

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield, best known for his hit 1980 golf comedy Caddyshack, underwent brain surgery in Los Angeles Tuesday, Reuters reports. Dangerfield was admitted to UCLA Medical Center for a rare surgical procedure known as an extracranial-intercranial brain bypass, a prelude to heart bypass surgery the comedian is scheduled to have in a few weeks, his publicist said. Dangerfield, 81, is expected to make a full recovery from both procedures. “I checked into the hospital because I have a thing for a nurse,” Dangerfield said Tuesday. “It’s a little thing, but it’s a thing.” The surgery happened on the same day that Dangerfield‘s latest film, the romantic comedy The Fourth Tenor, was released by Warner Home Video.

Chow Yun-Fat Homebound in Hong Kong

Chow Yun-Fat, the star of MGM’s martial arts pic Bulletproof Monk, will not attend the film’s Wednesday night premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles because of Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Chow lives in Hong Kong, the epicenter of SARS. His spokesman told The Hollywood Reporter Chow has decided to heed travel warnings issued by the World Health Organization and stay home “in deference to his wife.” The film opens nationwide April 11.

LAPD Officer Sold Data to Tabloids

According to a lawsuit recently settled by the city of Los Angeles, LAPD officer Kelly Chrisman used department computers to access confidential law enforcement records of celebrities, including Jennifer Aniston and Pamela Anderson, and sold the information to tabloids. Chrisman also accessed computer files on celebs such as Sharon Stone, Sean Penn, Meg Ryan, Drew Barrymore and Halle Berry between 1994 and 2000, The Associated Press reports. Chrisman said he looked up the names after he was ordered to compile a locator map of VIP residences. He was placed on home duty while the allegations are investigated.

Jason Mewes’ “Rock Bottom”

Actor Jason Mewes, best known for playing a pot-smoking slacker in Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, will be the subject of an HBO documentary about heroin addiction, the AP reports. Mewes‘ personal manager, who is producing Rock Bottom, says he convinced the actor to do the show so people could have a better understanding of his life and drug addiction. Mewes turned himself in this week in Freehold, N.J., and plead guilty to six counts of violating his probation for a 1999 heroin conviction.

Madonna To Perform New Songs

Madonna will perform songs from her new album, American Life, in an MTV special in which she is also expected to discuss the antiwar video she created for the title song, the AP reports. The hour-long special Madonna on Stage and on the Record will be taped in front of a studio audience April 22 to coincide with the release of her new album and is set to air that day 10 p.m. EDT. Carson Daly will be the host of the show.

Fuse To Challenge MTV

Move over MTV–there’s a new kid on the block. The MuchMusic USA television network announced Tuesday it will rename itself Fuse in an effort to distinguish itself from a market dominated by MTV, the AP reports. The network has also built a $12 million studio across from Madison Square Garden–about a dozen blocks from MTV’s Times Square studios. Fuse president Marc Juris said the network will focus on interactivity and take cues from viewers on what music to play. Fuse–a reference to the plugged-in world that the network’s target audience of 12- to 34-year-old viewers inhabits–will debut May 19 in about 30 million homes.

Role Call: Nicolas Cage Joins Superhero Elite, Electra Joins “Starsky” Remake

Director Mark Steven Johnson, who recently helmed Daredevil, is set to rewrite and shoot another Marvel Comics property, Ghost Rider, for Columbia Pictures. The project will star Nicolas Cage as a former motorcycle stuntman who agrees to let his body become host to a vengeful spirit in exchange for the safety of his true love … Carmen Electra, meanwhile, is in negotiations to join the cast of Warner Bros.’ big-screen adaptation of the classic 1970s police action series Starsky and Hutch for director Todd Phillips. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson star as the cop team and Snoop Dogg plays their flamboyant street informant.