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week 51-00
ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...

JIM CARREY's 18 month-long romance with Bridget Jones star RENEE ZELLWEGER is at an end. Word of the break-up started filtering out after TOM HANKS called in sick for the Fire and Ice benefit ball on behalf of breast and ovarian cancer research. He was to have presented BURT BACHARACH with an award and when he couldn't do it calls went out to Carrey from the organisers who assumed he would be there with Zellweger, who was due to attend. Zellweger's publicist, Leslie Sloane-Zelnick, confirmed that the two ``are no longer a couple''. Carrey is on holiday following a worldwide promotional tour for How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Zellweger will next be seen in Bridget Jones's Diary.

MEL GIBSON has not given up on directing ROBERT DOWNEY JR in a stage production of Hamlet next year. ``I only want to do it with him. That's what's exciting to me,'' says Gibson. Downey, who is finishing his guest-starring role in Ally McBeal, is due in court on December 27 on felony drug charges stemming from his arrest last month in Palm Springs, California. ``I talked to him a week ago,'' says Gibson. ``He's going to be OK. He's got a good heart.''

Buffy the Vampire Slayer star SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR is going back to college for her next film, Harvard Man. She co-stars with ERIC STOLTZ in a film that director JAMES TOBACK says ``deals with both the ecstasy and excruciating agony of gong insane under LSD''. Toback, who tells USA Today that he quit drugs after ``flipping out on LSD at Harvard'', added: ``It's the first hip anti-drug movie ever made.''

British actress SARAH JANE POTTS, who moved to Los Angeles to be with her fiance, has landed a regular role on the television series Felicity. ``First days are always difficult but the rest of the cast helped me feel at ease,'' she tells columnist Marilyn Beck. ``They're a very genuine, sweet group.'' But work was not her first priority when she left England. ''I came to Los Angeles to marry the person I was moving in with and have lots of babies,'' she said. ``The long-distance thing was just killing us.'' She met her fiance, ER's ERIK PALLADINO, at a film festival in Sweden.

CHEVY CHASE is returning to the small screen for the first time since he was a regular on Saturday Night Live more than 20 years. The actor-comic is developing a comedy television series in which he will star and which will be based on the classic 1939 comedy Mr Smith Goes to Washington.

RICHARD CRENNA will play RONALD REAGAN and soap opera actress HOLLAND TAYLOR will portray his wife Nancy in The Day Reagan Got Shot. Oliver Stone, who previously directed JFK and Nixon, is the executive producer of the drama, which centres on the shooting of Ronald Reagan and the chaos that followed in the White House when secretary of state ALEXANDER HAIGH declared himself temporarily in charge of the USA. Richard Dreyfuss will portray Haig.

STING's wife TRUDI STYLER is making a documentary called Inside the Sweat Box which chronicles the way her husband's role was reduced in the new Disney musical The Emperor's New Groove. When the ex-Police musician signed on to work on the film two years ago it was a musical called Kingdom of the Sun with five Sting songs scheduled. Now after the title change and other alterations, Sting has two songs in the finished version, one of them sung by TOM JONES. Filmgoers will have to wait until the final credits to hear Sting's voice at all, which reduces his chances for an Oscar for best song, say insiders.

STEPHEN DALDRY, who discovered JAMIE BELL for his film Billy Elliott, is in Los Angeles looking for another young boy to star in his next project, The Hours. The British director has a powerful cast in place for the three-segment film which is based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM. The boy he is searching for will play JULIANNE MOORE's son in a story set in Los Angeles in the 1950s. NICOLE KIDMAN will play Virginia Woolf in London in 1923 and MERYL STREEP will be a contemporary New Yorker.

THANDIE NEWTON, who was last seen on screen with TOM CRUISE in Mission: Impossible 2, will follow in the footsteps of AUDREY HEPBURN for her next role. She will take the part originally played by Hepburn in a remake of the 1963 thriller Charade. MARK WAHLBERG will have the role originally played by CARY GRANT. The British actress will play a Parisian woman who becomes entangled in intrigue after learning that her husband has been murdered.

KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS will star in the sixth screen version of the STEPHAN ZWEIG novel Twenty Four Hours of a Woman's Life. She will play an English widow who falls for a dashing young gambler during a stay on the French Riviera. Actresses who have previously played the role include MERLE OBERON in 1952, INGRID BERGMAN in 1961 and DANIELLE DARRIEUX in 1968. Producers of the latest version have not yet decided whether the film will be made in French or English and whom to cast opposite the British actress.

MEL GIBSON is preparing to team up again with his Braveheart writer RANDALL WALLACE in a gritty Vietnam War drama. Gibson wants Wallace to direct an adaptation of the memoir We Were Soldiers Once... and Young which Gibson will produce and star in. The film, which has the working title of Lost Patrol, is the story of the first major battle between US and Viet Cong troops. Gibson wants to get it into production in March to finish it before a possible actors' strike at the end of May.

Horrified cast and crew on ASHLEY JUDD's new movie High Crimes watched helplessly when the star accidentally knocked down an extra with a car while filming. Judd was at the wheel of a green Taurus whose passenger door was open and fitted with lights and cameras. As she drove, an extra in the military drama was hit by the open door and thrown to the ground. The woman, whose name has not been released, was treated in hospital and later released.

Austin Powers star MIKE MYERS has pulled out of the upcoming movie Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Myers was to take the lead in the film about a TV game show host who claimed to lead a secret life as a hit man for the CIA, but said ``scheduling conflicts'' had made this impossible. Producers are in hurried negotiations with comedy stars BEN STILLER and JOHN CUSACK as they search for a replacement.

GWYNETH PALTROW has revealed that she turned to yoga to help her through the heartbreak of her 1997 break-up with BRAD PITT and his wedding to JENNIFER ANISTON. ``A few years ago I was a complete mess and my life was falling apart,'' she admits. ``It took several months before I could put myself back together again. Yoga has taught me that you've got to get your comfort, your sense of safety, from yourself. ``If you have to look for comfort in another person, that's the wrong track.''

BETTE MIDLER, GOLDIE HAWN and DIANE KEATON are being asked to return for a sequel to the hit comedy, The First Wives Club. Producers hope to begin shooting in March when Midler will be available after finishing the first season of her television sitcom Bette. All three actresses are expected to ask for much higher salaries than they received for the original, which was adapted from Olivia Goldsmith's novel.

BARBARA STREISAND's son JASON GOULD has written and directed a comedy-drama, called Inside Out in which he also stars as a young gay man who is the child of two celebrities. His real-life father, ELLIOTT GOULD, plays his dad in the film, which was shot in a week on a minimal budget. ``I didn't consciously realise what I was doing,'' Jason told the Los Angeles Times. ``I've never been in the closet but I knew the film was provocative. It was a little dangerous to be playing a part similar to myself - and that was exciting.''

Singer-actress COURTNEY LOVE will perform some rowdy tunes from the early 1900s in her role as showgirl Texas Guinan in the film biography Hello Suckers. MARTIN SCORSESE will executive produce the film which unravels the life of the showgirl who became a Broadway star and a nightclub queen. The script is based on the book: Texas Guinan, Queen of the Night Clubs by LOUISE BERLINER.

Some of Hollywood's leading male stars are reportedly anxious to be considered for the title role in The Irishman, based on the true story of Cleveland's most notorious mobster, Danny Greene. Known for his trademark green suits, Greene was loved by the citizens for being a Robin Hood mobster. He took on the city's Italian mob and was known for his ``Irish luck'' which his enemies claimed helped him to escape their clutches time and again.

LEONARDO DiCAPRIO will have to go to trial to defend a 30 million lawsuit against him, judges have ruled. A panel of New York State judges has refused to dismiss the suit, filed by screenwriter ROBERT WILSON, who alleges the star goaded his friends into attacking Wilson during a dispute over the writer's girlfriend, Showgirls star ELIZABETH BERKLEY. The 1998 brawl over Berkley took place after DiCaprio's friends allegedly urged the blonde actress to meet them at a New York restaurant. Wilson claims that when he confronted the group outside the premises, they attacked him. He alleges that his singing career was ended when an unidentified friend of DiCaprio hit him in the throat. DiCaprio's lawyer, Paul Callan, said the claims against his client were ``fabricated'' and that he was looking forward to presenting ``a vigorous defence at the trial''. In her role as the video game heroine Lara Croft, ANGELINA JOLIE performs stunts that no woman has ever done before, according to Tomb Raider stunt co-ordinator Simon Crane. ``I would rate Angelina very highly against all of the action actors I have worked with,'' said Crane, whose work includes Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart and Vertical Limit. ``We've done a couple of sequences that involve stunts you won't have seen a woman do before,'' he tells USA Today. ``We did a bungee-jumping sequence and she went through three months' training to do it.'' And while the actress is up to every challenge, Crane has his own. ``It's a question of telling Angelina that she's not allowed to do this or that,'' he says. ``She can be a very stubborn lady, but I can be more stubborn.'' Tomb Raider, directed by Briton SIMON WEST ,is due out in June.

JULIAN LENNON chose the 20th anniversary of JOHN LENNON's death to vent his feelings towards his father. ``I had a great deal of anger towards Dad because of his negligence,'' he declared on his web site. For all the Beatles singing about peace and love, he says, ``that peace and love never came home to me''. He blamed the breakdown of his relationship with his father on Lennon's fear of parenthood and on his wife, YOKO ONO. ``I only saw him a handful of times before he was killed,'' said Julian, whose father left his mother, Cynthia Lennon, when he was four years old. ``Sadly, I never really knew the man. I wonder what it would have been like if he were alive today.''

HANK AZARIA is the actor chosen to replace ROBERT DOWNEY JR in the romantic comedy America's Sweethearts, reports Daily Variety. The film, which stars JULIA ROBERTS, CATHERINE ZETA-JONES and BILLY CRYSTAL, is due to begin shooting early next month, just a few days after Downey is due in court on drugs charges. America's Sweethearts director JOE ROTH, who made the decision to replace Downey, said he wishes him the best but keeping the movie on schedule was a priority.

Although she has been linked with number of men since splitting up with HUGH GRANT, ELIZABETH HURLEY admits it is not easy finding someone to fill the British actor's shoes. There are times when she thinks she could have stayed with Grant ``for another 40 years'' she tells McCall's magazine. ``Our day-to-day life was very easy-going,'' she says, ``and we both provided massive support to each other, which is possibly what we're going to have the hardest time doing without. ``I know I'll never stop loving Hugh, and if we're meant to get back together, we will.'' She says their break-up involved ``deep issues'', including whether they wanted to have children together

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