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week 52-00
ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...

RALPH FIENNES, whose most recent film Sunshine was filmed in Hungary, will be travelling the globe again early in the New Year. The British actor has already begun his research for Beyond Borders, the epic love story he will film with ANGELINA JOLIE for director OLIVER STONE. Set against the backdrop of relief work in war-torn countries, it will be filmed in Germany, South-East Asia and Africa. ``It's about people trying to make a difference against the odds,'' he says. ``These communities are suffering from being trodden on by different regimes and terrible things are happening.'' The British director TERENCE DAVIES hired GILLIAN ANDERSON to star in his film The House of Mirth without ever having seen her in The X-Files. ``I still haven't seen it,'' says Davies, who gave the actress her first starring role in a feature film after seeing her photograph. ``I'd been looking at a lot of John Singer Sargent, the great portrait painter,'' he recalls. ``Gillian's photograph came into the office and I said, `That's a Singer Sargent face!' She does have that period look.'' In The House of Mirth, Anderson plays Lily Bart, the complex and not always sympathetic heroine of Edith Wharton's classic novel of early 20th-century social wars amid the rarefied world of New York's upper class.

CLAUDIA SCHIFFER has been given a chance at film stardom with a co-starring role in a major Hollywood production, Life Without Dick. The supermodel-turned-actress has joined SARAH JESSICA PARKER and HARRY CONNICK JR in the comedy about a woman who falls in love with a reluctant Irish hitman whom she hires to kill her spouse. Schiffer will play the hitman's ex-girlfriend who broke his heart.

After starring as FBI fugitive Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs sequel Hannibal, ANTHONY HOPKINS is considering portraying a CIA agent in Black Sheep for producer JERRY BRUCKHEIMER. He would star with the black comedian CHRIS ROCK, who will play a man whose twin brother has been killed and who is recruited to complete his late brother's mission. Telling his mother, BARBRA STREISAND, that he was gay was easier than telling his father, actor ELLIOT GOULD. JASON GOULD, who is now 33, says in an interview with The Advocate magazine that he told his parents when he was 21. ``I think she probably already knew,'' he said. ``My father, however, did not suspect. It was much more difficult for him.'' His mother, he admitted, ``would love to have a grandchild, and I think that is probably the greatest disappointment to her. But you know, she may still get one''. Gould said he is aware of what a ``huge responsibility'' children are and said he would like to raise them ``with a partner''.

The British director SAM MENDES has persuaded PAUL NEWMAN to postpone retirement and join TOM HANKS in The Road to Perdition in his first film since the Oscar-winning American Beauty. Newman will play Hanks's adoptive father in the Depression-era story set in Chicago. Hanks will portray an ageing small-time hitman who seeks revenge when someone murders his wife and son. Mendes has cast a fellow Briton, JUDE LAW, as an assassin called The Reporter. The creators South Park are to lampoon president-elect GEORGE W BUSH and his immediate family in an early episode of new comedy series. MATT STONE and TREY PARKER's live action show Family First, which goes on air in America in mid-March, is billed as a political comedy sitcom-satire centred on the president's home life. The main characters are Mr Bush, his wife Laura and their 19-year-old fraternal twin daughters Barbara and Jenna. The New York Post reports that the forthcoming antics ``would raise anyone's eyebrows''. A spokesman for the Comedy Central network, which will air the new series, said: ``Knowing Matt and Trey, it will be provocative and eye-opening.''

MICHAEL MYERS wants the original James Bond, SEAN CONNERY, to play his father in the next instalment of the Austin Powers spy spoof. Myers is working on a 1950s-era prequel that would feature Austin and Dr Evil as rival classmates. According to the tentative script, Austin launches the British fashion and music invasion of America to rile the doctor. So far Connery has not commented on Myers' idea.

Actress KATE HUDSON and singer CHRIS ROBINSON are planning to marry at her mother GOLDIE HAWN's ranch in Aspen, Colorado, on New Year's Eve. Among the guests will be MICHAEL DOUGLAS, CATHERINE ZETA-JONES and SALLY FIELD, reports the New York Post. Hudson, who co-stars in Almost Famous, has known Robinson, the lead singer with the Black Crowes, for a year. She had previously denied she would get married, claiming she would like to follow the example of her mother, who has never wed her long-time partner KURT RUSSELL.

Two British actors, Tony Award winner SIR DEREK JACOBI and former Avengers star PATRICK MACNEE, will guest star in an episode of the US TV comedy series Frasier. In the episode called The Show Must Go Off, Jacobi portrays a washed-up Shakespearean actor whom Frasier (KELSEY GRAMMER) persuades to star in a one-man stage production. MacNee appears as his womanising father.

Neighbours of STEVEN SPIELBERG are protesting at his plans to build a five-storey indoor riding ring and stables for his actress wife KATE CAPSHAW. The development would be roughly six times bigger than a typical home in the low-key Brentwood area of Los Angeles, and neighbours fear it would send property values plummeting. Spielberg, who bought the 4 million property last year, would plough another $5 million into the proposed project if it got the go-ahead. The protesters include his former friend and fellow film-maker BRIAN GRAZER, who produced the blockbuster How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Grazer, who lives just above the 2.8-acre property in a house formerly owned by GREGORY PECK, is ``concerned that this will have a negative impact on the market value of his home'', according to his spokesman.

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