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ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...
HAYEK has been learning to paint and has acquired
a pet monkey in preparation for her role as the bisexual
Mexican artist FRIDA KAHLO. Hayek, who co-produces
and stars in Frida, is ahead of JENNIFER LOPEZ as
they vie to be first on the screen with a film about
the tortured painter. Lopez does not start filming
The Two Fridas until September while Hayek, who has
been working on the project for six years, begins
shooting her film in Mexico City next week. Co-starring
with her will be the British actor ALFRED MOLINA as
her husband DIEGO RIVERA and GEOFFREY RUSH as the
Russian revolutionary LEON TROTSKY.
ZETA-JONES and MICHAEL DOUGLAS plan to spent the next
three months at their home in Majorca with baby Dylan.
The Welsh actress has just finished work on America's
Sweethearts with JULIA ROBERTS, and Douglas has only
two days' work remaining on the thriller Don't Say
a Word, which he is filming in Toronto. They will
not return to their Los Angeles home until June, when
Zeta-Jones is due to begin promotional appearances
for America's Sweethearts.
BRITNEY SPEARS has learned how to cry on cue for her
first film role, in which the 19-year-old singer plays
a student on the road with two friends. ``We all have
inner demons, things that make us upset, and I just
picture them and put them in my throat,'' she tells
the May issue of Glamour magazine. ``I use a different
demon every time - like, if I'm stressed out about
something, or I miss my mom.'' She says her busy schedule
means she does not have as much time as she would
like to spend with her 'N Sync boyfriend JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE.
``We try to soak up as much time as we can, but it
still doesn't seem enough,'' she says. ``We go out
to dinner and try and have a normal relationship.''
The heirs to Gone With the Wind author MARGARET MITCHELL
are trying to stop the publication of a new novel
which retells part of the epic Civil War romance from
a slave's perspective. The Wind Done Gone, by ALICE
RANDALL, is narrated by a slave at Tara. Descendants
of Mitchell, who died in 1949, have filed a lawsuit
in Atlanta, Georgia, claiming the book violates the
copyright of the original by incorporating many plot
scenes, lines and characters. The original Gone With
the Wind was published in 1936 and the film version
had its premiere in 1939. Both sparked criticisms
from civil rights leaders for their patronising attitudes
towards the story's black characters.
COLE, who directed last year's acclaimed drugs comedy
Saving Grace, has been hired by the Walt Disney Company
to direct the Women's Institute story The Calendar
Girls. Based on a true incident last year, Calendar
Girls tells of what happened when a group of middle-aged
women posed naked for a charity calendar. Most of
the women who posed for the calendar will be actively
involved in the making of the film.
actor ALFRED MOLINA may have a new career in US television
portraying AGATHA CHRISTIE's detective Hercule Poirot.
He has just finished the made-for-television film
Murder on the Orient Express for the CBS network.
If the ratings are good he will be in demand to continue
as the Belgian supersleuth in other planned television
adaptations of Christie's works. The new Murder on
the Orient Express differs greatly from the 1974 film
which starred ALBERT FINNEY. It has been updated and
was filmed in Yorkshire. It co-stars MEREDITH BAXTER,
LESLIE CARON and PETER STRAUSS.
CROWE could team up again with his Gladiator director
RIDLEY SCOTT for a Walt Disney Company epic based
on the exploits of the 17th-century pirate Captain
William Kidd. Scott, who will be working with producer
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER on the project, is said to want
to work with Crowe again but the actor has numerous
other commitments. If he is unavailable, TOM CRUISE,
MEL GIBSON and HUGH JACKMAN are names also being mentioned
in connection with the role.
DEL TORO, who won the best supporting actor Oscar
for playing a Mexican drug cop in Traffic, is to portray
an assassin in his next role. Del Toro begins work
later this month on The Hunted in which he co-stars
with TOMMY LEE JONES. He plays an FBI deep-woods tracker
on the trail of Del Toro's character who has made
a sport of hunting humans.
HANKS is unhappy with the moustache he has grown for
his next film, The Road to Perdition. ``It's for the
role. I would never do this for myself,'' he says.
``But my body is a canvas.'' Hanks, who lost and regained
more than one stone in weight for Cast Away plays
a hitman seeking revenge for the murder of his wife
in the film, which is being directed by British Oscar
winner SAM MENDES.
LOPEZ has been learning Krav Maga, the fighting system
taught to Israeli forces, for her role as an abused
wife who seeks revenge in the drama Enough. Lopez,
who will be heading to England to promote her multi-platinum
album J.Lo when she finishes filming, tells Daily
Variety she is pleased to be playing the role of a
victim. ``It's important,'' she says. ``When a woman
falls in love, she gives up everything. And when she's
betrayed...'' British director MICHAEL APTED says
of the story: ``It's too important a subject to trivialise.''
of American's most famous comedians are backing Laugh.com,
a website and record company dealing exclusively in
comedy. PHYLLIS DILLER, GEORGE CARLIN, NORM CROSBY
and RICH LITTLE are among the backers of the site,
which will produce and sell comedy albums on the net
and through traditional retail stores. Its first release
will be a new comedy album from 82-year-old Academy
Award-winning actor and comedian RED BUTTONS. But
he admits he is not exactly an expert on the internet,
and says: ``I've just learned to use the phone.''
British actress SADIE FROST is following her husband,
JUDE LAW, into the trenches of the Second World War
for her next project. She is to co-star with LEELEE
SOBIESKI, JAMES WOODS and DONALD SUTHERLAND in the
TV mini-series Uprising, about the Warsaw ghetto insurrection.
Filming begins in Slovakia early next month. Last
year Frost spent four months with her husband in Germany
near the Polish border where he filmed Enemy at the
Gates, which portrayed the Battle of Stalingrad.
they have not yet decided on a joint movie project,
MADONNA and her husband director GUY RITCHIE are continuing
to work together. The couple, who teamed up for Madonna's
latest video What It Feels Like for a Girl, in which
she portrayed a deranged woman at the wheel of a car,
are to collaborate on a commercial for BMW. No details
are being released about how much they are being paid
but it is likely to be one of the most expensive commercials
New best friends PAMELA ANDERSON and ELIZABETH HURLEY
are hinting that they would like to do a film together.
The couple caused a sensation for their outfits when
they arrived together at ELTON JOHN's post-Oscar party.
``We had dinner last night and hit it off,'' Hurley
told reporters. ``Maybe we should do a movie together.''
BILLY CRYSTAL, who turned over the Academy Awards
emceeing duties to STEVE MARTIN because he was too
busy, may return in the future. ``I'm not ruling myself
out of doing the show again. I'm not giving up,''
he tells syndicated columnist Marilyn Beck. ``I just
simply had too much going on this year.'' Crystal
wrote and co-stars in American Sweethearts with CATHERINE
ZETA-JONES and JULIA ROBERTS and has just finished
directing the baseball film. He also did the voiceovers
for the film Monsters Inc and is planning to work
with Michael Douglas on a remake of the 1979 comedy
ROBERTS and her boyfriend BENJAMIN BRATT left each
other the morning after her best actress Oscar win
and will be apart for the next two months. The actress
begins works with fellow Oscar winner and Erin Brockovich
director STEVEN SODERBERGH on the remake of Ocean's
Eleven, while Bratt heads for Montreal to begin filming
Abandon. It marks the directing debut of yet another
of this year's Oscar winners, STEPHEN GAGHAN, who
won for his Traffic screenplay. Bratt will play an
alcoholic detective opposite co-star KATIE HOLMES
in the story of a college student who wonders if she
is responsible for two disappearances, including that
of her lover.
winner RUSSELL CROWE, who is just starting work on
A Beautiful Mind, will not play his character as a
bisexual, despite a biography which claims he was.
Crowe portrays JOHN FORBES NASH JR, a Nobel Prize-winning
mathematician who overcame schizophrenia. The film
is based on a biography by SYLVIA NASAR, who describes
a series of ``emotional attachments'' Nash had to
other male students and his dismissal from a government
think-tank after his arrest on indecent exposure charges.
Nash, who is 72, denies he is bisexual, says producer
BRIAN GRAZER, so that alleged aspect of his character
is being omitted from the film. Grazer believes Crowe
is the ideal actor for the role. ``He can say so much
without even speaking,'' he says. ``Russell has met
with John Nash and I think he's got his character
down, pretty much perfectly.''
The little Mexican town of Real de Catorce is benefiting
from being the location for much of the new BRAD PITT-JULIA
ROBERTS film The Mexican. As soon as the film-makers
arrived, the town in Mexico's north-central highlands,
which had been waiting for telephone service for the
past 20 years, was instantly connected. Locals are
also expecting a boom in tourism and already the hotel
where Roberts stayed is advertising her suite for
$250 a night.
ATKINSON is set to star with JACKIE CHAN in Highbinders,
an action comedy due to film in Australia. Because
it is being shot outside the US, neither actor is
American and financing is coming from Hong Kong, the
film will not be affected by the upcoming summer Screen
Actors' Guild strike. The film is about a Chinese
immigration officer who is killed and returns from
the dead with superpowers.
SPIELBERG reveals he offered the starring role in
Close Encounters of the Third Kind to STEVE McQUEEN,
who turned it down, saying he wouldn't be able to
cry on cue. The role went to RICHARD DREYFUSS, who
cried when his character entered the alien spaceship.
Spielberg tells the story in a 100-minute documentary
which is part of a new collector's edition of the
film that will be released on DVD in May. It will
also include 11 scenes that were deleted from the
LOVE HEWITT has taken a big step on the way to shedding
her good-girl image with her new film Heartbreakers.
``In this movie I am the Girl Next Door gone very
bad,'' Hewitt tells USA Today. ``My clothing is way
more risque than anything I would ever wear.'' Hewitt,
who made her name playing sweet Sarah on the TV family
drama Party of Five, co-stars with SIGOURNEY WEAVER
in the comedy about a mother-daughter team of confidence
director RIDLEY SCOTT's Roman epic Gladiator scooped
the Oscar for best film award at the glittering annual
Academy Awards. While the film won five titles, Scott
missed out on the best director award on a disappointing
night for British talent. RUSSELL CROWE was named
best actor for Gladiator, while JULIA ROBERTS took
the best actress prize for Erin Brockovich - both
winning their first Oscars. Gladiator's haul included
one of the few consolation prizes for Britain with
JANTY YATES picking up an award for costume design.
But ALBERT FINNEY was again left empty-handed after
his fifth nomination. His role as a lawyer in Erin
Brockovich was beaten to best supporting actor by
BENICIO DEL TORO for his performance as a Mexican
drug cop in Traffic. British film Billy Elliot had
been shortlisted for three awards but its helmsman
STEPHEN DALDRY lost out to STEVEN SODERBERGH who was
named best director for Traffic. Soderbergh, whose
film took four titles, said: ``Suddenly going to work
tomorrow doesn't seem like such a great idea.'' The
film-maker had been due to resume work on his remake
of Ocean's Eleven. It was also a night of triumph
for ANG LEE's Taiwanese martial arts fantasy Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon which landed four Oscars. They
were best foreign-language film, best original music,
best art direction and best cinematography.
RUSSELL CROWE and ED HARRIS start work together on
A Beautiful Mind in what producer BRIAN GRAZER admits
is a delicate situation. Crowe plays the paranoid
schizophrenic mathematics prodigy JOHN FORBES NASH
JR, who won a Nobel Prize for his work but who lived
on the streets. Harris, who was Oscar-nominated for
playing the tortured painter JACKSON POLLOCK, has
a supporting role as a powerful US military officer
who tried to persuade Nash to help crack intelligence
codes in the Cold War. ``It's an amazing coincidence,''
says Grazer of the stars' nominations for best actor.
ZETA-JONES, ANTONIO BANDERAS and ANTHONY HOPKINS are
being asked to reunite for a sequel to the hit film
The Mask of Zorro. The original 1998 film, which launched
Zeta-Jones as an international star, grossed nearly
ð200 million worldwide. Director MARTIN CAMPBELL,
who began his career directing the British TV series
Minder and Bergerac, has agreed to return for another
adventure of the masked avenger, and a script is currently
British comedy writing team of DICK CLEMENT and IAN
LA FRENAIS have written Jailhouse Rock, a new musical
based on the 1957 Elvis Presley film. Clement and
La Frenais have written the script for the show, which
will include JERRY LEIBER and MIKE STOLLER's songs
from the movie with additional music from a mystery
Grammy-winning composer. Like the 1957 movie, the
story will focus on a pair of star-crossed lovers,
one of whom begins a journey to rock stardom while
serving time for a crime he didn't commit. Jailhouse
Rock will have its first public performance in Los
Angeles in September and there are plans for a national
tour and Broadway production to follow.
FORD COPPOLA is to release a new version of his classic
1979 Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now with many new
scenes added. At three hours 17 minutes, it is 53
minutes longer than the original and will contain
more of MARLON BRANDO and more humorous scenes, according
to COPPOLA. There is also more detail of MARTIN SHEEN
and his fellow soldiers. ``We re-edited the film from
the original, unedited raw footage and the themes
merge more clearly and the film is funnier, more romantic
and more political, with more historical perspective,''
he tells Daily Variety. ``We felt now that some of
the real unusual things we had in the original cut
would bring it back to a level of avant garde and
length that it lacked.''
HANKS is deciding whether to star in and produce the
drama Khe Sanh, about how a priest's faith is challenged
by his experiences in the Vietnam war. The screenplay
has been written by WILLIAM BROYLES JR, who wrote
Cast Away, for which Hanks was Oscar-nominated for
a best actor. It will be directed by another of this
year's Oscar nominees, EDWARD ZWICK, who produced
the best picture contender Traffic. Khe Sanh is told
through the eyes of Ray Stubbe, a Navy Chaplain who
served at Khe Sang through one of the most bitterly
fought battles of the war. Stubbe, who held as many
as a dozen prayer sessions daily, kept a diary of
his time in Vietnam which is the basis for the film.
BOB THORNTON has replaced ROBERT DE NIRO in the role
of a Southern racist who falls in love with the widow
of an executed criminal in Monster's Ball. De Niro
dropped out when his friend SEAN PENN changed his
mind and decided not to direct it. HALLE BERRY, who
will soon be returning as Storm in X-Men, will play
the dead man's widow.