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week 06-01
ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...

RIDLEY SCOTT's Hannibal looks like being a huge hit, but the British director is unsure whether he will return for the next sequel. ``They've asked me to do it but it depends on the material,'' he tells the Los Angeles Times. The ongoing Hannibal Lecter saga is already being prepared by producer DINO DE LAURENTIIS. Silence of the Lambs screenwriter TED TALLY is working on the script. It will be based on author THOMAS HARRIS's book Red Dragon, which introduced Dr Hannibal Lecter. ``Tally's a really good writer and in a way Red Dragon is the best book of the three - scarier than hell,'' says Scott. ``But I think it was a very, very dark story, with not much humour.'' Red Dragon was previously filmed in 1986 as the little-seen Manhunter with the Scottish actor BRIAN COX as Lecter.

MARTIN SHEEN will be trading the Oval Office for the rugged western outdoors when the TV series The West Wing finishes for the season. The Golden Globe winner is to star in Doe, a Western originally written for SPENCER TRACY which he had planned to produce and star in at the time of his death in 1967. Now screenwriter CLYDE WARE, who has made four TV films with Sheen, has resurrected the project for the Western-loving actor. JACK PALANCE is to co-star in the role originally intended for the late LEE J COBB. An unknown actress will be cast in the title role of an orphaned girl who grows up among dog packs on the plains, following an Apache camp. Doe will be filmed on location in Arizona and Montana in May.

The British actor PAUL BETTANY makes his Hollywood debut with a leading role opposite RUSSELL CROWE in director RON HOWARD's A Beautiful Mind. Bettany, who co-stars with HEATH LEDGER in A Knight's Tale, begins work next month in New York on the film. It is based on the life of the mathematician JOHN F NASH who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1994 for his work on the principles of game theory.

MADONNA is to produce a film about the British 1960s pop singer DUSTY SPRINGFIELD The tone will be celebratory and deal with the lesbianism she attempted to hide but not her drug-addled years, according to sources at the company. No actress has yet been cast to play Springfield in one of several film biographies Madonna is planning through her Maverick Films company.

BOB DYLAN recently recorded a traditional-sounding cover version of DEAN MARTIN's Return to Me for use in The Sopranos TV series, according to Entertainment Weekly. The song, complete with accordion and verses sung in Italian, is likely to be used during the next season, which begins in March, and on the second Sopranos soundtrack album.

TIM ROBBINS is to have a supporting role opposite British actress THANDIE NEWTON in the romantic thriller The Truth About Charlie. He will have the role of Mr Bartholomew, originally played by WALTER MATTHAU in the 1963 AUDREY HEPBURN-CARY GRANT thriller Charade, on which this is based. Newton plays a Parisian woman who discovers her husband has been murdered as she is pursued by four strange men.

British actor ALFRED MOLINA is to portray AGATHA CHRISTIE's Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in a TV remake of Murder on Orient Express. Molina, who plays a French mayor in Chocolat, appears with co-stars LESLIE CARON, MEREDITH BAXTER and PETER STRAUSS. Sources say the whodunit, which is set aboard the famous train, has been updated. It was previously filmed in 1974 with ALBERT FINNEY as Poirot and an all-star cast that included INGRID BERGMAN, LAUREN BACALL, SEAN CONNERY and VANESSA REDGRAVE.

ALAN BATES has been hired to play the villain in the film adaptation of the Tom Clancy thriller The Sum of All Fears. The British actor begins filming his role on Monday in Montreal in the story of a looming nuclear confrontation between Russia and the US.

BEN AFFLECK has taken over the role of CIA agent Jack Ryan from HARRISON FORD and JAMES CROMWELL has been cast as the US President. JIMMY OSMOND is the executive producer of a TV film about him and his singing family called Inside the Osmond Family. Osmond, 37, who had a UK hit as a child with the song Long Haired Lover from Liverpool, reveals the conflicts in the closely-knit Mormon family. At one point they went bankrupt, losing all the money they earned, but Osmond says: ``I wanted to tell our story in a fun and honest way. ``I wanted to somehow put across the incredible career my brothers had before Donny, Marie and myself really came along. While nothing is perfect, I think it captures the essence of the family.''

Husband and wife KYRA SEDGWICK and KEVIN BACON will team up on screen in Cavedweller, an adaptation of DOROTHY ALLISON's best-selling novel. Sedgwick will play an alcoholic rock singer who returns to her hometown to make amends with the daughters she left behind 10 years earlier. Bacon is cast as the rock star who initially lured her away from her abusive husband. The last time they worked together was when Bacon directed his wife in Losing Chase, which also starred HELEN MIRREN and BEAU BRIDGES.

The British documentary maker NICK BROOMFIELD is to make his feature film debut with a film about the disgraced former studio head DAVID BEGELMAN. Broomfield, who made acclaimed documentaries about Hollywood madam HEIDI FLEISS and MARGARET THATCHER, has been hired by veteran producer ED PRESSMAN. The as yet untitled film will tell the story of Begelman, the extravagant former head of Columbia studios who was convicted of cheque forging. He later redeemed himself but then, broke and desperate, committed suicide. No actor has yet been cast for the role of Begelman.

TOM CRUISE and NICOLE KIDMAN's showbusiness partnership continues even though the couple have separated. Kidman is still scheduled to star in the film biography of women's rights crusader VICTORIA WOODHULL that Cruise and his company is producing. The actress is receiving treatment for the knee injury which forced her to pull out of the film The Panic Room. Meanwhile, Cruise is in New York filming Vanilla Sky, a romantic thriller in which he plays a badly disfigured car crash victim.

GUY RITCHIE, who has said he wants to direct his wife MADONNA in a feature film, is taking a step in that direction. The Snatch director has agreed to direct Madonna in the video for her next single, What It Feels Like for a Girl, which will be shot near their LA home.

JENNIFER ANISTON is reportedly trying to persuade her husband BRAD PITT to make a guest appearance on Friends. Pitt has looked at several scripts but has made no commitment to the sitcom which is being trounced in the US ratings by the new series of Survivor. JOHN TRAVOLTA, who co-starred with Friends cast member LISA KUDROW in Lucky Numbers, is also being wooed to make an appearance and is likely to agree, say sources. Those who have already made guest appearances include BRUCE WILLIS, TOM SELLECK and ELLIOTT GOULD.

Republican party member ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER says his Democrat wife MARIA SHRIVER will support him if he runs for California governor in 2002. ``She will be 100% behind me,'' said the actor, whose wife is a member of the Democratic Kennedy clan. Schwarzenegger, who is a naturalised US citizen, says he wants to oust California governor GRAY DAVIS because the state needs ``stronger leadership''. But his record as a star of films like The Terminator makes him a political long-shot, says Jack Pitney, a professor of government at Claremont College, California. ``When people think of Schwarzenegger they don't think of quiet, responsible leadership. They think of murderous androids,'' he tells USA Today.

HUGH HEFNER is juggling seven girlfriends, the 75-year-old Playboy founder tells Vanity Fair magazine. ``There can be some territorial things between them, but mostly it's working out very well,'' says Hefner, whose harem of blondes are named Tina, Regina, Katie, Cathi, Stephanie, Tiffany and Buffy. ``Let me just say that it's too good to be true - it's even better than people think!''

JODIE FOSTER, has accepted an offer to star in The Panic Room, replacing NICOLE KIDMAN whose 11-year marriage to TOM CRUISE has just broken up. Foster, whose plans to produce and direct Flora's Plumb have fallen through, has not made a film since starring in Anna and the King. She has also had to pull out of the presidency of the Cannes Film Festival to take the 9 million she will receive for The Panic Room. Kidman and Cruise blame their split on the pressures of work keeping them apart. But she says it was a recurrence of the knee injury she suffered while filming Moulin Rouge that forced her to pull out. ANGELINA JOLIE was the first choice to replace her but she was committed to film Life or Something Like It, having just finished Tomb Raider.

ANTONIO BANDERAS will discover life on the other side of the lens playing a member of the paparazzi in the thriller Femme Fatale. He will soon have a female lead as director BRIAN DE PALMA's four-month search for ``a sexy RITA HAYWORTH-type'' nears its end. The English-language film will be shot in Paris and Cannes, where some of the action takes place during the film festival. Co-producer MARINA GEFTER says: ``The atmosphere will be very stylish. Brian wants it to be a homage to the French film noir of the 40s.''

SARAH JESSICA PARKER is trying to juggle her Sex and the City schedule to return to the New York stage this summer in Wonder of the World. She wants to play Cass, a married woman who flees her marriage and goes to Niagara Falls, where she meets a suicidal alcoholic mulling a ride over the falls in a huge jar of peanut butter. Wonder of the World producers have said they would be willing to try to alter the play's schedule to fit in with Parker.

CLIVE OWEN's performance in the underrated Croupier has caught the attention of Hollywood casting directors. The British actor, who is starring in the TV drama Second Sight, is also about to make his mark in a big-budget adventure film for Universal Pictures. Owen has been hired to join MATT DAMON in The Bourne Identity, based on the novel by ROBERT LUDLUM. He plays an assassin on the trail of Damon's Jason Bourne.

JOHN TRAVOLTA continues his breakneck schedule by moving straight from the thriller Swordfish to his next film, Domestic Disturbance. In it he plays a divorced father who finds his young son's new stepfather - played by VINCE VAUGHN - is not what he seems.

SHIRLEY TEMPLE BLACK is objecting to the film Bojangles which features young actress LEA GOLDE as Temple when she was a child star. ``The girl was a little thin and the wig was silly,'' Temple Black tells Daily Variety. GREGORY HINES also stars as the talented dancer Bill Bojangles Robinson, but Temple Black disagrees with how he is portrayed. Robinson, with whom she danced in several films, is shown to be a womaniser, drunk and a gambler who died broke. But Temple Black says: ``He was a classy man - a dear person to me and a good friend.''

MEL GIBSON has dropped out of the remake of the sci-fi thriller Fahrenheit 451 which his company still plans to produce. Gibson, 45, felt he was too old to play the young fireman hero, and the project seemed doomed when negotiations with TOM CRUISE and BRAD PITT failed. But things are back on the frontburner now The Green Mile director FRANK DARABONT has stepped in to rewrite the script and helm the film. Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature required to ignite paper, and the futuristic story looks at a society where a fireman's job involves starting fires to burn books. Based on a book by RAY BRADBURY, the story was previously filmed in 1966 by FRANCOIS TRUFFAUT, with OSKAR WERNER as the dissenting fireman.

The troubled Basic Instinct II appears to be gong ahead once more. It appeared on the verge of being abandoned amid difficulties in finding a director and a leading man for the star, SHARON STONE. She is earning 15 million dollars for reprising the role of the ice pick-wielding Catherine Trammell. Die Hard director JOHN McTIERNAN and leading man BRUCE GREENWOOD have been reportedly recruited to fill two of the key roles. Greenwood's manager says: ``We're in negotiations. If and when the picture moves ahead, Bruce will be in it.''

British actors JUDE LAW and RACHEL WEISZ trained on a rifle range for their roles as Russian soldiers in Enemy at the Gates. The Second World War epic of the Battle of Stalingrad co-stars JOSEPH FIENNES as a Russian political commissar and BOB HOSKINS as Nikita Kruschev. Law says: ``I became pretty good with a rifle quite quickly, which was very scary.'' He also researched the history of the battle to play the simple soldier Vassili Zaitsev who became a national hero through his prowess as a sniper. ``This was such a good story and a type of film I had never been in before,'' he said. ``It was so far removed from my character in The Talented Mr Ripley and the beaches of southern Italy.

Golden Globe winner BENICIO DEL TORO is to play a murderous villain in The Hunted, a thriller helmed by WILLIAM FRIEDKIN and starring TOMMY LEE JONES. Del Toro is one of Hollywood's hottest young actors through his Globe-winning role as a Mexican cop in Traffic, which has made him an Oscar contender. He also played Franky Four Fingers in GUY RITCHIE's Snatch.

SYLVESTER STALLONE is hoping to jump start his flagging career by playing a flamboyant villain in Dolan's Cadillac. He will play a Las Vegas kingpin who thinks he has got away with murder, but discovers that the spouse of his victim has revenge plans. It is based on a STEPHEN KING story and is being produced by TOM CRUISE's company, with filming is set to begin in Mexico at the end of April.

JIM CARREY is planning to play a blacklisted screenwriter in a 50s period drama, The Majestic. Stripped of his ambition and the will to live, Carrey's character leaves Hollywood and takes refuge in a small town. LAURIE HOLDEN, a relative unknown who has had an occasional role in The X-Files TV series, will co-star. Director FRANK DARABONT told the Hollywood Reporter: ``She beat out a lot of people for this role, and I have to say I'm thrilled at the prospect of presenting a fresh face to the audience.'' Filming starts next month in northern California.

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