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ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...
trio Atomic Kitten's chart-topping cover version of
the Bangles' Eternal Flame coincides with a comeback
by the US-based pop-rock band. The multi-platinum
selling all-girl group, famous for hits like Walk
Like an Egyptian and Manic Monday, are heading back
into the studio to record their first album since
1989. ``We're in the process of sorting through the
30-plus songs we've written over the past couple of
years,'' says guitarist Vicki Peterson. Last year
the band, which also features her sister Debbi Peterson
on drums, vocalist Susanna Hoffs and bassist Michael
Steele, reunited after a nine-year split. And all
believe they're better than ever, older and wiser.
``We think we know a little bit more about how to
balance our lives and our work and how not to get
so absorbed by it all that you lose sight of who you
are, why you're there and who y our friends are,''
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER is considering a return to comedy
for the first time since Jingle All The Way five years
ago. The muscleman is on the verge of signing on to
star in Ump, a black comedy about a hit man who becomes
a hero of the townsfolk while hiding out in a small
town. Schwarzenegger, whose Collateral Damage is due
for release next month, would film Ump before returning
to cyborg duty next year in Terminator 3.
a true story that resembles a film script, a shop
assistant in the gift shop at Sony Pictures studios
will star in a drama to be directed by DENZEL WASHINGTON.
LUKE, who sold trinkets to tourists, was spotted by
Washington and will play the title role in The Antwone
Fisher Story. ANTWONE FISHER, a former security guard
at Sony, revealed his abusive childhood in the memoir
Finding Fish and then turned it into a screenplay.
ADAM SANDLER and The Sopranos star JAMES GANDOLFINI
are both contenders for the role of ROBERT DE NIRO's
room-mate in th e comedy drama Scared Guys. De Niro
and his co-star will portray agoraphobics who are
forced to leave their apartment for the first time
in years to stop an assassination.
WILL SMITH's Ali in Africa was a troubled time for
the cast and crew, according to MYKELTI WILLIAMSON,
who portrays the flamboyant boxing promoter DON KING.
``The anticipation was high but once we got there
we were all very sad,'' Williamson told an interviewer.
``We experienced tremendous theft. Anything you left
in your room disappeared, even small things like toothbrushes.
I'm really having a difficult time admitting it but
I can't say Africa was wonderful. ``The people need
help. It's heartbreaking.''
JOLIE, with no film commitments in the near future,
plans to go with her husband, BILLY BOB THORNTON,
on his concert tour of the US. ``I'll be a wife and
a groupie at the same time,'' says Jolie, who has
just finished shooting Life, Or Something Like It
and whose Original Sin has just been released in the
riddle of why RUSSELL CROWE has been turning down
a series of big money film offers has been solved
with the news he will produce, direct, write and star
in a film about Australians in the Second World War.
The New Zealand-born actor, who grew up in Australia,
is to focus on filming The Long Green Shore, a drama
about an Australian battalion that arrives on the
beaches of New Guinea with orders to beat back the
Japanese. Sources say he could play the commander
or any one of about a doz en other roles, including
the narrator. Crowe has rewritten an existing script
from the book by JOHN HEPWORTH and expects to begin
production next spring in the South Pacific.
Jones's Diary star RENEE ZELLWEGER is poised to join
CATHERINE ZETA-JONES as a murdering dancer-singer
in Chicago, the Miramax film version of the awa rd-winning
musical. The actress reportedly auditioned for the
film's director, ROB MARSHALL, in New York last week
and, according to Daily Variety, demonstrated enough
singing and dancing ability to win the role of Roxie.
Zeta-Jones, who began her career as a singer and dancer,
is to play Velma.
offer is out to KEVIN SPACEY to play the sleazy lawyer
Billy Flynn, who defends the two women on separate
murder charges and changes loyalties when one becomes
more popular in the press than the other. MA DONNA
is to provide the voice of a zoo animal for DreamWorks'
animated feature film Madagascar. The film, viewed
as a follow-up to the studio's highly successful Shrek,
will also feature the voices of BEN STILLER, CHRIS
ROCK and JASON ALEXANDER. It centres on four zoo animals
who are sent by ship back to their native homeland
by an animal rights group but survive a shipwreck
and find themselves in Madagascar.
currently on a world concert tour, is expected to
record her role before beginning work w ith her husband,
director GUY RITCHIE, on a feature film they plan
to make together. FilmFour, the film unit of Channel
4, has snapped up the film rights to ELMORE LEONARD's
new novel Tishomingo Blues and plans to put the project
into immediate development. The book, which will be
published next year, is a contemporary crime caper
about a carnival high-diver who witn esses a murder
and becomes involved with the Mafia and a group of
Civil War re-enactors. Leonard, who describes it as
being ``the book I've had the most fun writing'',
will be a co-producer and partner with FilmFour on
the project. ``When I met the people at FilmFour I
couldn't believe there were film-makers this good
at what they do who are still having fun,'' Leonard
told Daily Variety. ``This is as promising a starting
point as I've ever had.''
HECHE has signed a one-year, one million-dollar deal
to star in her own weekly television series. The actress,
who recently finished filming John Q with DENZEL WASHINGTON,
wants to do a comedy but it has not yet been decided
whether she will do a half-hour or a one-hour show,
says Daily Variety. The idea of her own television
series reportedly appealed to Heche after she guest-starred
in several episodes o f Ally McBeal.
film-maker JIM SHERIDAN has chosen the African-born
actor DJIMON HOUNSOU to star in his semi-autobiographical
romantic drama East of Harlem. Hounsou, who co-starred
in Gladiator, will play a troubled Harlem-based artist
who befriends a newly-arrived Irish immigrant who
dreams of becoming an actor. The immigrant will be
played by Paddy Considine. The film is due to begin
shooting this month in Dublin and New York, when Hounsou
returns from France where he is filming the action-thriller
Rolling Stone BILL WYMAN is about to embark on his
first US tour since he left the band in 1992. Wyman,
w hose new band the Rhythm Kings includes singer-keyboardists
GARY BROOKER of Procol Harem and GEORGIE FAME, has
no regrets about leaving the Stones and says: ``It's
been the happiest time in my life since I left.''
The bass guita rist, who has just finished the second
volume of his autobiography, Stone Alone, tells the
Washington Post: ``I've never regretted my decision
for one minute. ``I didn't have any more objectives
to aim for in the band. I thought it was the right
time to go, when we were at the top, to move on and
do other things and try to achieve something personally.''
TOM CRUISE's new girlfriend, actress PENELOPE CRUZ,
is in no hurry to become the next Mrs Cruise. ``Getting
married would scare me,'' she says in the September
issue of Vanity Fair. ``That is always a scary thing
when you really open your heart to someone.'' Cruz
played Cruise's lover in Vanilla Sky and has since
been seen out with him several times. She says she
would not ``have a problem'' having children out of
wedlock, but adds: ``I haven't decided yet.''
AFFLECK's publicist has denied a re port that the
actor was on a ``boozy gambling binge'', winning 500,000
in a Las Vegas casino a few days before entering an
alcoholic rehabilitation centre last week. The Pearl
Harbour star, who was with his friend MATT DAMON,
made the money playing three 15,000 blackjack hands
at a time, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
It says Affleck gave away more than 100,000 in tips.
But Affleck's publicist, DAVID POLLICK, denounced
the story as ``inaccurate and irresponsible''. Affleck,
whose father is a recovering alcoholic who now works
as a counsellor, voluntarily checked himself into
the Promises rehabilitation centre in Malibu for treatment
Hour 2 star JACKIE CHAN is to have the JERRY LEWIS
role in a remake of the comedian's 1960 film The Bellboy.
The new script sets the story in Las Vegas and filming
is likely to begin after Chan and CHRIS TUCK ER star
together again in Rush Hour 3.
The release date of MARIAH CAREY's new film Glitter
has been postponed for nearly a month from August
31 until September 21 to give the singer time to recover
from her breakdown. The decision was made by executives
at 20th Century Fox who want Carey to be well enough
to publicise the film when it is released. The troubled
Carey is still in hospital and ``resti ng comfortably''
according to her publicist, nearly two weeks after
she suffered an ``emotional and physical breakdown''.
Glitter was produced by Carey and marks her first
leading role. She plays an aspiring singer who embarks
on a meteoric rise to fame.
DiCAPRIO has signed a three-year production deal with
British producer GRAHAM KING, who heads the Initial
Entertainment Group. ``Leo is one of the number one
actors in the world and to be involved with him and
his projects is a lucrative and exciting prospect,''
said King, whose company co-produced Gangs of New
York with DiCaprio's company. With the backing of
King, who also co-produced Traffic and the upcoming
Ali, DiCaprio will develop projects in which he will
serve as both producer and star.
Former supermodel REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS says she much
pref ers acting to modelling because she does not
always have to loo k cheerful. ``It was nice to walk
around the movie set in a dark mood,'' she tells Glamour
magazine. ``Nobody told me to smile or cheer up like
they do when I'm modelling a bikini on the beach.
People know how I look done up glamazon-style. It's
more fun to change my look.'' But Romijn-Stamos, who
co-stars in the upcoming futuristic thriller Rollerball,
says that while posing in beachwear is one thing,
taking her top off in public is quite another. She
says she ``freaked'' when Rollerball director JOHN
McTIERNAN asked her to appear topless on camera, before
adding: ``We hashed it out and shot it in silhouette.''
WILLIS has bought a strip of beachfront property valued
at around 5 million on the Turks and Caicos islands
in the Caribbean, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Willis, 46, reportedly plans to build a 7,500 square
ft main house with a co uple of two-bedroom guest
cottages. Construction is due to begin next month.
When he is not staying there, Willis intends to rent
the property out to holidaymakers, who can expect
to pay around 9,000 a night, says the Journal. The
story of Bettie Page, a legendary showbusiness figure
who shocked America in the 1940s, is coming to the
TYLER is reportedly the leading contender for the
role of Page, a sexy, free-spirited actress and model
who was brought before a Senate committee investigating
juvenile delinquency. She became a poster girl for
freedom of speech. ``I've been trying to get her rights
for years,'' said producer MARK WOLPER, who is working
on the film with Page documentarian MARK MORI, whom
the former pin-up girl entrusted with her life story.
``She was at the forefront of a major shift in morality
in the US and she led a strange and salacious li fe.
We want a very edgy film that tells it the way it
was.'' Page, who in 1955 was a Playboy centrefold
and named Miss Pin-Up of the World, is now 78 years
old and lives in seclusion in Florida.
director JOHN FRANKENHEIMER is to direct the next
instalment of The Exorcist, a prequel that has yet
to be titled. The script, adapted from WILLIAM PETER
BLATTY's original The Exorcist novel, will trace the
story of Father Merrin - played in the 1973 film by
MAX VON SYDOW - back to his first encounter with the
devil during missionary work in post-Second World
War Africa. There has been no announcement yet on
casting, although it is expected LINDA BLAIR may be
offered a cameo role. JASON MILLER, who played the
pivotal role of Father Karras, died earlier this year.
LIZA MINNELLI is trying to stop an off-Broadway tribute
to her career from ever getting staged. According
to co-writer JESSE VARGAS, the cast of a show celebrating
Liza's music had been rehearsing for six months and
were set to hold an audition for investors when Minnelli
sent a warning through her bodyguard. ``He gave no
explanation but only threatened legal action if the
show wasn't stopped,'' Vargas told the New York Post.
``Anyone can tell you that Liza's career is over.''
TOM CRUISE's girlfriend, PENELOPE CRUZ, will portray
a male rapist who undergoes an enforced sex change
operation in Tarantula. She plans to make the film
with Spanish director PEDRO ALMODOVAR and ANTONIO
BANDERAS, who says: ``It's kind of a reflection of
Frankenstein in modern days. ``It's also a reflection
on relationships between men and women, which has
been a constant in Almodovar's world.'' It will be
the first time Banderas and Cruz have worked together
although both began their careers in Spain and both
are veterans of Almodovar productions.
star JASON STATHAM is to appear in The Transporter,
a film co-written by the French writer-director LUC
BESSON. Statham, who has been dubbed the British BRUCE
WILLIS, will play a character whose job it is to deliver
packages, no questions asked. But complicati ons arise
when he breaks the rules and begins asking questions.
The film, which will mark the English language directing
debut of COREY YUEN, a veteran of 25 Hong Kong martial
arts films, will begin shooting in Paris and the south
of France in October. Statham currently has two US-made
films awaiting release - The One, in which he co-stars
with JET LI, and The Ghosts of Mars, with ICE CUBE
and NATASHA HENSTRIDGE.
ROBERT DOWNEY JR has gone back to work and is filming
a music video for the ELTON JOHN song I Want Love,
according to Daily Variety. He lip-synchs to Sir Elton's
voice on the song, a single from the British singer's
new CD called Songs From the West Coast. Downey's
agent said the actor, who is spending one year in
a live-in drug rehabilitation programme as part of
a deal with prosecutors, has received several offers
for major film and television roles. He is also Emmy-nominated
for his supporting role on the television series Ally
LISS's novel about the London stock exchange in th
e 1720s, Conspiracy of Paper, is to be adapted for
the screen by ROBERT NELSON JACOBS, who was Oscar-nominated
for writing the screenplay for Chocolat. Miramax has
bought the film rights to the thriller and is reportedly
hiring the Chocolat team of director LASSE HALLSTROM
and producer LESLIE HOLLERAN to bring it to the screen.
The two are currently working for Miramax on The Shipping
News, which was also written by Jacobs, and stars
KEVIN SPACEY, JULIANNE MOORE and JUDI DENCH.
STAR, the man who created the hit television series
Sex and the City, is moving into feature films with
Shutterbabe, the life story of sex kitten photojournalist
DEBORAH KOGAN. Star has bought the rights to her mem
oir, Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War and is
writing the script for the film. Shutterbabe tells
of Kogan's career as a freelance photographer, visiting
war zones from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and collecting
lovers along the way.