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week 17-01
ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...

Hoping to cash in on the success of The Weakest Link, American television networks are hunting for more British-conceived projects. The ABC and Fox networks are both bidding for the BBC reality show Dog Eat Dog, while other networks are considering a programme called Challenge America which would be hosted by ERIN BROCKOVICH and is reportedly based on a British show. In it contestants compete on missions to complete charitable or socially beneficial tasks in the shortest period of time.

JANET JACKSON says her new-found happiness is reflected in her latest album, All For You, which features upbeat, dance-oriented music. ``All I did was what I always do and that's write about what's going on in my life,'' Jackson, 34, tells USA Today. ``I really am happy now. My life has changed.'' Jackson is currently divorcing her second husband RENE ELIZONDO JR. They were together for 13 years and married for eight. He is currently suing her for 10 million dollars. She does not expect to participate in the forthcoming reunion tour of her brothers, but as a fan she says she is looking forward to it. ``I miss seeing the brothers,'' she says. ``It was such a highlight of my growing up. When they tour, you'd better believe that I'm going to have a seat in the audience.''

PRINCE NASEEM HAMED is one of a number of celebrities who have cameo roles in Ocean's Eleven, the remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film about a Las Vegas casino robbery. Hamed will be seen sitting ringside with ANGIE DICKINSON, WAYNE NEWTON and SIEGFRIED and ROY at a boxing match between British heavyweight LENNOX LEWIS and VLADIMIR KLITSCHKO.

When the lights go out the robbers played by - GEORGE CLOONEY, BRAD PITT and MATT DAMON - strike. The scene was filmed while Hamed was in Las Vegas for his fight with MARCO ANTONIO BARRERA, which he lost. The writer-director M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN, whose previous two films The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable have grossed nearly 1 billion dollars worldwide for the Walt Disney Company, has now sold his next script, about crop circles, to the studio. He will receive around 15 million dollars for both writing and directing the script, called Signs, reports Daily Variety. Like his two previous films Signs takes place in his home state of Pennsylvania. The story is based on the mysterious appearance of a 500ft array of circles and lines in a farm family's crops.

The Scary Movie 2 filmmakers are hoping to attract CHARLTON HESTON to replace MARLON BRANDO in the zany comedy. Brando, who was to have received two million dollars for four days work, had to drop out because of illness. His representatives have declined to comment on his health but sources say he is suffering from pneumonia. Scary Movie 2 producer Elizabeth Clark said that ``unfortunately, due to his health issues, and unavailability we must now recast his role. We wish Mr. Brando a speedy recovery''. Heston has not said whether he will take the role, of a priest performing an exorcism.

A new film based on Charles Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's best-seller Helter Skelter is being planned. The 1976 television film of the same name, which starred STEVE RAILSBACK as the notorious Manson, focused on the investigation of Manson and his family of killers. The new version says Bugliosi, will put more emphasis on Manson and the origins of his family. No casting has yet been announced.

CAROLINE AHERNE, the creator, co-writer and co-star of the hit comedy series The Royle Family has turned down pleas from the BBC for another series in order to concentrate on writing and producing a feature film. Her film will be about a hairdresser who decides to make house calls but must first learn to drive. ``It's a very, very small film, but that's just what I like doing,'' Aherne tells the Los Angeles Times. The Royle Family is soon to be seen on network television in America as The Kennedys, a series set in Boston and starring Randy Quaid. Aherne and her co-writer and co-star Craig Cash are consultants for the series.

NICOLE KIDMAN'S new film The Others is drawing laughs in the wrong places at early test screenings because there are too many parallels between the dark thriller and real life, reports the New York Post. Kidman's character has two children and tells them at one point, ``Daddy isn't coming home. You'll find out soon enough that this place isn't always a happy home.'' The audience ``burst out laughing'', said an insider who attended a screening. The Others was produced by Kidman's estranged husband TOM CRUISE.

Producer JERRY BRUCKHEIMER, who has just finished the 100 million Second World War epic Pearl Harbour, is next planning to give the blockbuster treatment to the story of King Arthur and the Round Table. He plans to use computer images to enhance the battle scenes and he promises: ``We'll give King Arthur a realistic story that will be more like The Wild Bunch.'' He tells Daily Variety. ``Period films have been made much easier by computer generated images. I defy you to tell the real planes from the digital planes in Pearl Harbour.''

RACHEL WEISZ will begin rehearsals for her stage role in Neil LaBute's black comedy The Shape of Things at the same time as she starts filming the comedy-drama About a Boy in which she co-stars with HUGH GRANT. The busy British actress is also currently being seen in two films, Beautiful Creatures and Enemy at the Gates with a third, The Mummy Returns, due to open soon. In The Shape of Things, which opens in London next month, the British actress plays an American art student. ``It's a twisted love story about how people use their real life in their art and how couples try to change each other,'' she tells the Los Angeles Times. ``It's a tremendous female role. I read it and my hair was standing on end.'' The Go-Go's first new album in 17 years has run into trouble with the Catholic church. The all-girl band's God Bless the Go-Go's features pictures of each band member dressed as the Virgin Mary. ``It is painfully obvious that the GoGo's are looking to jump-start their new shot at fame but can't pull it off without cheap ploys, so they have decided to rip off Catholic imagery,'' said William Donohue, president of the Catholic League.

GWYNETH PALTROW is to star in a romantic comedy being described as ``an American version of Bridget Jones's Diary''. Miramax Film has bought the novel Three Times Three for Paltrow, who will play the heroine, an assistant editor at a women's magazine who discovers her fiance is secretly engaged to at least two other women. Paltrow, who has just finished filming the Miramax comedy View From theTop, will co-produce Three Times Three.

PAUL HOGAN has a ready answer for critics who say that his latest film, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles is an attempt to revive his sagging career. ``I don't have a career,'' he tells the Los Angeles Times. ``It's not sagging because it doesn't exist. I'll disappear after this movie. You won't see me at openings or premieres and you won't read my golf score in the paper. I will just vanish off the face of the earth.'' The Australian actor, who now lives in the California seaside town of Santa Barbara with his wife, actress LINDA KOZLOWSKI, said: ``I live a very good life but I don't talk about it too much because it's annoying for people who work for a living.''

When NICOLE KIDMAN poured out her heart to her Moulin Rouge director, fellow Australian BAZ LUHRMANN, about her break-up with TOM CRUISE, the filmmaker consoled her with the words: ``It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.'' The actress tells the story in the current issue of Interview magazine, in which she also talks of the difficulties of making the film while going through her emotional turmoil. ``My dad says one of the best images he had was when he came to visit on the set,'' she recalled. ``I'm in the van, cooking dinner for the kids in four-inch stilettos, a corset, fishnet stockings, long red hair and a top hat. And the kids didn't seem to think there was anything strange about it. And I didn't think there was anything strange about it, either.''

It looks as if WILL SMITH will be getting a new partner for the Men in Black sequel. TOMMY LEE JONES, who teamed with him in the first film, is reportedly asking for 40 million dollars ($30 million) to return for Men in Black 11 so producers are looking for another actor - RICKY MARTIN has been mentioned - to join Smith as the fearless alien fighter. LINDA FIORENTINO will be missing too and will be replaced by ROSARIO DAWSON, who is currently being seen in the hit pop music spoof Josie and the Pussycats.

Having supervised the decorating of their new home in San Francisco, SHARON STONE is now reportedly turning her attention to her husband, newspaper editor PHIL BRONSTEIN'S office at the San Francisco Chronicle. She has ordered the ceiling to be painted such a bright shade of blue that Bronstein's fellow workers are calling the office Xanadu, reports the rival San Francisco Examiner newspaper, which comments: ``Sharon has a right to her say about the decor. She's had a say about everything else at the paper.''

Supermodel HEIDI KLUM blames her good friend DONALD TRUMP for putting her in the media spotlight as the supposed latest playmate of PRINCE ANDREW. ``Oh, that was blown out of proportion,'' the happily married Klum tells the May issue of Tatler magazine. ``I didn't even know Andrew was coming. He turned up at my Halloween party with Donald Trump.'' She says she asked Andrew where his costume was, then decided to give him a big, red-lipsticked kiss on his forehead. ``But he said, `I don't think that's such a good idea.' That was that. He could be the Prince of the World, but I'm not interested.''

HEATHER LOCKLEAR recently spent a day of tough military training at a Marine boot camp to see if she could survive the arduous course. Locklear, the daughter of a Marine colonel, learned how to storm a building, navigated an obstacle course and wielded a bayonet. The only injury she suffered was a broken nail, she told the June issue of Marie Claire magazine. But when the long day was over, she said: ``My first call from the limo was to my husband to get my martini ready.''

ANTONIO BANDERAS is living under a death threat from a Spanish terrorist group and now his new movie The Body is stirring up political and religious controversy. In the film, Banderas plays a Vatican-appointed Jesuit priest sent to investigate a tomb opened by an Israeli archaeologist (OLIVIA WILLIAMS). The tomb contains a body that may be that of Jesus Christ. The find, if proven to be Christ, threatens the foundations of Western religion. Director JONAS McCORD is aware his movie could earn the outrage of Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. But he insists it is not a political time-bomb, but a positive message about faith, ``believing in what you cannot see''. Faith is what McCord had when it came to his film. Because of its controversial subject matter, it took him 15 years to get the story to the screen. As for the subject matter of The Body, McCord remembers one eerie moment on location. The crew were setting up at a real archaeological site, placing their fake bones into the earth. While they were working, an archaeologist working nearby cried out - he had just discovered the remains of a real body. McCord says: ``I'm standing there saying, `Please tell me it's not a crucifixion!'''

Dutch beauty FAMKE JANSSEN has been chosen to star as the vampy villainess Serleena in the eagerly-awaited Men in Black 2. Original Men in Black stars WILL SMITH and TOMMY LEE JONES will be back in their roles as sober-suited Agents J and K. Although Columbia Pictures is keeping the plot under wraps, there is rumoured to be a love interest for Smith's character. She will be played by Josie and the Pussycats star ROSARIA DAWSON, while JOHNNY KNOXVILLE is also set to appear as a two-headed alien. Janssen will soon be seen starring opposite MICHAEL DOUGLAS in Don't Say a Word.

SEAN ``PUFFY'' COMBS (now P.Diddy) is in trouble with the law again, but actress and singer JENNIFER LOPEZ looks as though she's found happiness with new man Chris Judd. Lopez and Judd, a dancer who toured with her and can be seen in her video Love Don't Cost a Thing, were all over each other while shopping in Beverly Hills this week. While Judd was trying on jackets, Lopez was spotted by fans and stood chatting happily and signing autographs. When the fans wanted photographs with their idol, Judd cheerfully ditched his shopping attempt and took the snaps for them. Then the two walked off with their arms around each other. Lopez is also heading for Europe to promote a new single from her multi-platinum album and her new hit movie The Wedding Planner.

When Erin Brockovich star JULIA ROBERTS accepted her Oscar, she told the audience she wanted to share it with every cast and crew member on the film. And she meant it. The actress had hundreds of tiny copies made, engraved with the cast or crew member's name and sent to them with a hand-written note of appreciation.

As those gay rumours continue to swirl around Latin heart-throb RICKY MARTIN, model INES MISAN is setting the record straight. ``I'm not supposed to talk about this,'' says Misan, who claims she has been dating the star for several months, ``but on a scale of 1 to 10, I'll give him a 20. He's all man.'' And as for all the gay rumours, Misan says: ``It's like a joke. I wish every man were so gay.'' Interestingly, Martin's agent says the two have never dated but are ``just friends''.

ROD STEWART's gorgeous model daughter Kimberly plays for a lesbian soccer team in Los Angeles - not that she's gay but because ``they're the only ones who'd have me''. The 21-year-old says that after dating two LA guys, she's decided there are no good men in Hollywood. But when she meets her perfect man, she'll know him because ``he'll look like BRAD PITT and have nice manners''.

PRINCE EDWARD has cancelled a Los Angeles press conference to promote a made-for-television film he co-produced after being told British journalists would be among the questioners. He was due to appear at the press conference with British actress JULIA ORMOND who stars in the film Varian's War, but then backed out when his demands to approve the questions in advance were rejected. Instead, he mingled with guests and press at the film's premiere at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the film's co-star, WILLIAM HURT, stood in for him at the press conference. A member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which had scheduled the press conference, said Prince Edward wanted to see the questions in advance in writing and did not want any questions about his personal life. ``He also didn't like the idea that he might be questioned by British journalists who might ask him embarrassing questions,'' said the member. ``He was told we could not agree to his demands so he decided not to come.'' Varian's War is based on the true story of Varian Fry who rescued prominent European artists from Nazi persecution during the Second World War. Prince Edward is credited as Edward Wessex with being the co-executive producer with BARBRA STREISAND.

The controversial MADONNA video which both VH1 and MTV have refused to air, will be marketed as a DVD. In the video, for her song What It Feels Like for a Girl, which was directed by her husband GUY RITCHIE, Madonna goes on a violent spree and appears to die in a car crash. It created a storm of controversy when it was first seen and was deemed too violent for television. The husband and wife team - Madonna now calls herself Mrs Madonna Louise Ciccone Ritchie - have just completed a less controversial project, filming a commercial for BMW in which Madonna is chased by paparazzi on her way to a movie premiere.

Sales of tickets for MEL BROOKS'S comedy musical The Producers have broken Broadway box-office records. The show is selling more than 35,000 pounds worth of tickets every ten minutes, prompting co-producer Tom Viertel to comment: ``I've never seen anything remotely like it.'' Eager buyers snapped up more than two millions pounds worth of tickets on the first day they went on sale, breaking the previous record held by The Lion King. The show, which stars NATHAN LANE and MATTHEW BRODERICK in the roles originally played in the film by MEL BROOKS and GENE WILDER, cost eight million pounds to mount, runs at a cost of about $350,000 a week and is expected to recoup its investment in a rapid 35 weeks.

The reclusive JULIE CHRISTIE is leaving the California ranch where she has lived for the past two years to spent two months in New York filming the romantic comedy I'm With Lucy. She will co-star with her fellow British actor JOHN HANNAH and MONICA POTTER in the story of a single woman who goes on a series of blind dates looking for Mr. Right. The supporting cast includes DAVID BOREANAZ from the television series Angel and Henry Thomas who, as a child actor, starred in E.T.

Director PETER BOGDANOVICH says he is casting his former lover CYBILL SHEPHERD in his upcoming comedy Wait For Me. ``I have found that when you have been intimate with your actress, it's much easier to direct her in a movie,'' he tells the New York Post. ``Not that that has happened to me all that many times.'' Bogdanovich, who has a recurring role in the TV series The Sopranos, previously directed Shepherd in 1971's The Last Picture Show, the 1990 sequel Texasville and in the disastrous 1975 musical At Long Last Love.


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