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ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...
ZETA-JONES and JULIA ROBERTS will be fighting dinosaurs
this summer when their film America's Sweethearts
is released on the same day as Jurassic Park III.
Both films will be released in the US on July 20 to
take advantage of the summer holidays. America's Sweethearts,
which also stars JOHN CUSACK and BILLY CRYSTAL, was
due to be released at the beginning of the month but
was pushed back because it was not going to be ready.
``We're up against Jurassic, but we think there's
a great advantage to having a Julia Roberts comedy
in that slot,'' said JEFF BLACK, marketing chief at
Sony Pictures, which is releasing America's Sweethearts.
``Midsummer is always a great opportunity for a romantic
comedy with big movie stars,'' he tells Daily Variety.
``I presume Sony thinks that they're counter-planning,''
said NIKKI ROCCO of Universal Pictures, which is releasing
Jurassic Park III. ``Good for them, and we're not
British director NICHOLAS HYTNER's long-awaited stage
musical The Sweet Smell of Success has finally been
given an opening date. The first public performance
will be in Chicago on December 7 and the production
will then move to Broadway in March next year before
transferring to London. Co-produced by Chocolat producer
DAVID BROWN, the musical is said to have the best
score ever by stage veteran MARVIN HAMLISCH. Hytner,
who directed the Broadway musicals Miss Saigon and
Carousel, has hired JOHN LITHGOW to star as the powerful
Walter Winchell-type gossip columnist JJ Hunsecker.
The role was originally played in the 1957 movie by
BURT LANCASTER. The sleazy press agent Sydney Falco,
played in the film by TONY CURTIS, will be portrayed
by BRIAN DARCY JAMES, who appeared in the Broadway
JERRY HALL has been preparing for her role in The
Vagina Monologues on the London stage by temporarily
reuniting with her ex-husband MICK JAGGER. Hall, Jagger
and their children spent the past week at their family
compound on the Caribbean island of Mustique, according
to the New York Daily News. It quotes a source as
saying: ``They're not getting back together but every
now and then Jerry says she grants him a conjugal
visit.'' While Jagger is mulling the idea of a 2002
Rolling Stones tour, Hall is due to begin rehearsal
this month for the London production the play.
JACKIE COLLINS has finished the sequel to her best-selling
Hollywood Wives, which is due to be published in June.
Collins says today's Hollywood wives, unlike the past
generation, ``want to have their own production companies,
star in their own movies and they think they are just
as important as their famous husbands''. Sources say
the book, Hollywood Wives: The Next Generation, will
set Hollywood gossips trying to guess the real-life
identities of some of the characters, including the
female producer who slept her way to success and the
elegant blonde gay man living with a prominent studio
executive. Hollywood Wives was made into a 1995 mini-series
which featured ANGIE DICKINSON, ANTHONY HOPKINS and
ROD STEIGER, and the sequel is almost certain to follow
the same path to television prime-time.
COLIN FIRTH, who co-stars with RENEE ZELLWEGER in
Bridget Jones's Diary, is working with another American
actress trying to master a British accent. Firth predicts
REESE WITHERSPOON, like Zellweger, will easily pass
for a Brit. ``She is an extremely talented actress
and she'll have no problems,'' said Firth, who is
on a quick promotional visit to New York. He and Witherspooon
have just begun filming Oscar Wilde's The Importance
of Being Earnest, with RUPERT EVERETT and JUDI DENCH.
JULIA ROBERTS and comedian ADAM SANDLER are forming
an unlikely team to produce a comedy film about Niagara,
the drink touted as the female version of Viagra.
It is not known whether they intend to star together
in the film although their production companies will
work together on the project. The film will be based
on a report on the internet by journalist SUZI PARKER
about Niagara, which, she says, is a 4.5-dollar (ð3.25)
drink that ``makes women feel relaxed and tingly in
the right places''. It has reportedly become all the
rage around Little Rock, Arkansas.
RENEE ZELLWEGER is not committing herself to starring
in a sequel to the highly successful Bridget Jones's
Diary. Producers are anxious to develop a sequel from
HELEN FIELDING's follow-up book, Bridget Jones: The
Edge of Reason, but Zellweger has said she may not
want to spend another seven months in London. Learning
to speak with an English accent and immersing herself
in the life of a London girl for the role was ``an
incredible experience'', she said, but she has not
indicated she would be prepared to repeat it.
TURNER will make a guest appearance in an hour-long
episode of Friends, playing the cross-dressing father
of MATTHEW PERRY's character, Chandler. ``I enjoyed
it, I like challenges,'' said the actress, who also
sings in the episode. MORGAN FAIRCHILD plays her wife,
Chandler's mother. In an additional casting twist,
ALEXIS ARQUETTE, the brother of Friends co-star COURTENEY
COX and a real-life cross-dresser, has a role as a
The Scottish actor EWEN BREMNER collapsed from exhaustion
at a military training camp while preparing for the
film Pearl Harbour, in which he plays a US sailor.
Bremner, who previously appeared in Trainspotting,
found the boot camp training with his co-stars BEN
AFFLECK, JOSH HARTNETT and WILLIAM LEE SCOTT tough
going. ``I was hallucinating, I couldn't walk properly
and my temperature was going bananas,'' he tells Premiere
magazine. ``They were sending someone to check on
me every 15 minutes as I slept to see if I was still
JACKMAN spent a week with an etiquette coach in England
learning to behave like a 19th-century duke for his
role in the time travelling comedy Kate and Leopold.
The Australian actor found he preferred the old ways
to the new and tells US Weekly magazine: ``Compared
with people in the 1800s we live permanently eating
pizza in front of the TV. ``Their formality was a
way of slowing down and paying attention to the other
person.'' In Kate and Leopold Jackman plays an English
nobleman transported into present-day New York, where
he falls for MEG RYAN. He also has the thriller Swordfish,
in which he stars with JOHN TRAVOLTA and VINNIE JONES,
awaiting release and is due to start work on an X-Men
sequel before the end of the year.
West Wing star ROB LOWE will have the leading role
in a two-hour television film based on the BBC mini-series
Framed. The Americanised version of the Lynda La Plante
story sees Lowe as a New York detective. His ethical
code is tested when a jailed witness in a money-laundering
scheme offers him millions of dollars for arranging
her escape. In the British version the role was played
by TIMOTHY DALTON.
star JAMES GANDOLFINI shocked many of his TV fans
when he signed on to play a gay character in The Mexican
starring BRAD PITT and JULIA ROBERTS. But Gandolfini
insists: ``Love is love whether you're gay or straight.
The gay character that I play is non-stereotypical
when one thinks about how gay men are portrayed in
films. ``That is why I took the role. It is one of
the best gay roles I've seen in films. ``His sexuality
is not really even brought into the picture until
he eyes someone in a bar and Julia Roberts's character
asks him point blank is he is gay since he's staring
at the guy. ``When it is brought up, it is done in
a very tasteful way.''
JACKSON plans to give his long-awaited new album a
memorable debut at a New York concert in September
that will celebrate his 30 years as a solo artist.
The concert will also feature a reunion of Jackson
and his brothers, TITO, JERMAINE, JACKIE, MARLON and
RANDY, marking the first time they have performed
since the 1980s. They will sing a medley of classic
Jackson 5 tunes. Others taking part include WHITNEY
HOUSTON, BRITNEY SPEARS, MARC ANTHONY, 'N SYNC and
SHAGGY. The concert, to be held at Madison Square
Garden, will be taped for broadcast on television
Tiger, Hidden Dragon director ANG LEE intends to use
a computer-generated star for his next film, The Incredible
Hulk, based on the Marvel Comics character. ``The
Hulk is not human,'' says Lee. ``He's 9-12ft feet
tall and weighs 1,500lb. You can't have a big guy,
paint him green and put comic book pants on him. I
guess I'll go with digital.''
STALLONE rewrote the script of his new film Driven
to give himself a smaller role, according to the film's
producer, ELIE SAMAHA. ``Sly's a smart businessman,''
he tells the Wall Street Journal. ``He knew it would
be more compelling to a make more of an ensemble piece
that would appeal to a young, hip teenage crowd.''
In Driven, which is directed by RENNY HARLIN, Stallone,
54, plays a veteran racing driver who is hired to
guide the career of a young hotshot.
JOHN IRVING, who won an Oscar for his screenplay adaptation
of his book Cider House Rules, is to turn another
of his novels into a film script.The
Fourth Hand will be directed by Cider House Rules
director LASSE HALLSTROM, and GEORGE CLOONEY is being
mentioned as the possible star of the film. He would
play handsome television reporter Patrick Wallingford,
whose hand is bitten off by a lion during a live report.
He becomes involved with a childless woman who will
give him the hand of her recently deceased husband
if he helps her to conceive a child.
O'NEAL is returning to the big screen in her first
starring role for more than a decade. The 37-year-old
actress, who won an Oscar in 1974 for her film debut
in Paper Moon, will join the British actors TIM CURRY
and JULIAN SANDS in The Scoundrel's Wife. She will
play a small town widow who comes under suspicion
of helping the Germans in the drama, set in 1942 Louisiana.
O'Neal, the former wife of JOHN McENROE, has not worked
for the past 10 years because she has been raising
three children and struggling with drug addiction.
BATES is to star with SHIRLEY MacLAINE in an American
television mini-series based on the Salem witch trials.
The British actor will play SIR WILLIAM PHIPPS, the
governor of the New England colonies in Innocent Blood:
The True Story of the Salem Witch Trials. Phipps tolerates
the trials until his wife is suspected of being a
witch. Producers of the four-hour mini-series say
it will accurately portray the grim events surrounding
the 1692 series of investigations and persecutions
in Salem, Massachusetts, that caused 19 women to be
hanged as witches and many others to be imprisoned.
MacLaine will play the devout nurse Rebecca, who is
also denounced as a witch.
JANSSEN, who played the villainess with the thighs
of steel in the James Bond adventure Golden Eye, is
negotiating to play another on-screen bad girl in
the sequel to Men in Black. Janssen will play the
evil bombshell Serleena in the comedy-adventure, which
will see the original stars, WILL SMITH and TOMMY
LEE JONES, back in their roles as Agent J and Agent
K respectively. Production is due to begin in June
if the planned actors' strike is averted. A sequel
to the black comedy American Psycho is ready to go
before the cameras but without its original star.
BALE will not be returning in the role of Wall Street
psychotic and serial killer Patrick Bateman, who was
created by author BRETT EASTON ELLIS in his best-selling
novel of the same name. Instead this psycho will be
a girl college student, played by MILA KUNIS, who
kills everybody standing in the way of her becoming
a professor's teaching assistant. ``It's a darkly
satirical script in the spirit of the original American
Psycho,'' said MICHAEL PASEORNKET, president of Lions
Gate Productions, who tells Daily Variety he sees
a number of future American Psycho sequels. ``The
title provides for a lot of built-in marketing,''
British director DANNY BOYLE, whose most recent job
was directing LEONARDO DiCAPRIO in The Beach, has
backed out of his new project because of ``creative
differences''. Boyle was to direct the high-action
suspense thriller Tick-Tock but changed his mind after
meeting with the producers and Columbia Pictures executives.
No replacement has yet been hired although the film,
about a young amnesiac FBI agent desperately searching
for a serial bomber in Los Angeles, is due to begin
filming this autumn.
HAWN plans to make her directing debut with Ashes
to Ashes, which she has written and intends to star
in. She describes it as being about ``a pretty nasty
gal who has to take her ex-husband's ashes to Nepal''.
She is also looking for projects for her own production
company, which she has merged with her children, OLIVER
and KATE HUDSON, and long-time companion KURT RUSSELL,
to form Cosmic Entertainment. JANE FONDA says her
husband TED TURNER needed a baby-sitter rather than
a wife. ``He needs someone to be there 100% of the
time. He thinks that's love,'' she says in an 20-page
profile of Turner in New Yorker magazine. ``It's not
love. It's baby-sitting. We went in different directions.
I grew up.'' Their nine-year marriage ended last year
and even though she still cares about him, Fonda,
63, says the burden of living with Turner became too
much to bear. ``Older age is about slowing down and
growing vertically, not horizontally,'' she says.
``That's not Ted.'' Turner, an atheist, tells the
magazine that Fonda's desire to delve more deeply
into religion came as a surprise to him. ``I had absolutely
no warning about it,'' he says. ``She didn't tell
me she was thinking about doing it. Obviously we weren't
communicating very well at that time.''
Former Sex Pistols frontman JOHNNY ROTTEN has landed
a role in the pilot for a new American television
comedy series. Rotten, now using his real name of
JOHN LYDON, will play the Grim Reaper in Bad News
Mr Swanson, about a man who ditches all his responsibilities
because he believes he is dying of cancer. The Grim
Reaper becomes a taunting presence in the dying man's
life, cajoling him into taking risks and having fun.
``If you're looking for a rock star to play Death
you can't do much better than John Lydon,'' says producer
PIERCE BROSNAN is firmly denying reports that WHITNEY
HOUSTON has been approached by 007 producers about
becoming the next Bond girl. ``That's news to me,''
says Brosnan. ``I don't know her. But I think she's
got a great voice. I think she's got talent out there
as an actress.'' Brosnan, who is getting rave reviews
for his performance in the Tailor of Panama, confirms
he has turned down the starring role in Basic Instinct
2 - for the second time. ``I just didn't want to go
there,'' he says. Many studios will spend millions
of dollars shooting a film - and then leave it gathering
dust, often never putting it on to cinemas screens.
Some of the most recent films you may never get to
see include Pluto Nash.
MURPHY's long-awaited sci-fi comedy was due out this
year, but now it may go straight to video if it doesn't
get shelved for good. Town & Country, the romantic
comedy starring WARREN BEATTY and DIANE KEATON, was
due for release this April. But it was shot three
years ago and the release has already been delayed
13 times. Original Sin, starring ANTONIO BANDERAS
and ANGELINA JOLIE, generated a storm of publicity
amid rumours of an affair between the co-stars. The
film was due out last winter, but the studio will
say only ``maybe'' to a release this summer.
See You is an indication of how much SYLVESTER STALLONE's
star power has faded. The picture should have been
in cinemas over a year ago. But there is still no
sign of a release. If you were thinking of auditioning
for a role on top TV sitcom Friends, there's something
you should know. The show's producers have decreed
that no woman who wears a dress bigger than a size
8 can appear as a guest star on the programme. The
studio whisper is that anyone wearing a size 10 or
over will make stars JENNIFER ANISTON, COURTENEY COX
and LISA KUDROW look unhealthily skinny. It's got
to be an actress's worst nightmare.
model REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS was so thrilled when she
got a chance to appear in a movie with AL PACINO that
she showed up for work even when she had a streaming
cold. They were moving into a clinch when, to Romijn-Stamos's
horror, a drip fell unexpectedly out of her nose -
and landed on the rather shorter Pacino's face. The
mortified actress fell over herself apologising, but
Pacino just stood there stonily while someone cleaned
him up and repaired the damage. Romijn-Stamos wailed
to a friend: ``I'd rather he'd yelled at me! Anything
would have been better than silence!''
singer GARTH BROOKS is going through a bitter divorce,
ending his touring days and wondering if his career
has amounted to anything. No wonder he's sounding
like one of his own songs when he says: ``I don't
have any faith in myself as a husband. I've done my
career - `burn bright, burn fast'. ``I wasn't going
to be someone we could really appreciate, like BILLY
JOEL and JAMES TAYLOR, and know their stuff was timeless.
I knew my stuff was going to be up and gone.''
RINGO STARR tried to return a 15-dollar thermos flask
to a shop in Aspen, Colorado, the teenage assistant
asked to see his receipt. When the former Beatle explained
he'd lost it, the shop assistant asked him his name.
``Richard Starkey,'' said Starr, giving his real name.
The young man was not impressed and refused to take
the item back until another customer blurted out:
``Wow, you're Ringo Starr! How does it feel not to