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week 07-01
ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...

Stuart Little II will see HUGH LAURIE returning in the role of the father along with GEENA DAVIS as his wife. MICHAEL J FOX will once again supply the voice of the little mouse while MELANIE GRIFFITH joins the cast as Margolo, a sophisticated bird befriends Stuart. The first film has so far grossed more than 200 million pounds.

British director RIDLEY SCOTT has added another fellow countryman to the cast of his next film, Black Hawk Down. Scott has hired the young British actor ORLANDO BLOOM for the role of Blackburn. He plays a young US Army Ranger who falls from a helicopter and survives to be a hero in the story of a group of US soldiers on an ill-fated mission to capture a Somalian warlord's lieutenants. Bloom, who will be seen later this year in the first part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, joins fellow Briton EWAN McGREGOR and JASON ISAACS on the set of Black Hawk Down when shooting begins next week.

GENE HACKMAN had to learn to smoke, using non-addictive herbal cigarettes for his role in the upcoming comedy film Breakers. He also spent several hours every day with make-up artists who added liver spots and age lines to his features for his role. Hackman plays an eccentric billionaire tobacco company magnate who has spent years chain-smoking his own product. SIGOURNEY WEAVER and JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT co-star with him, playing a mother and daughter team of confidence tricksters.

EMMA THOMPSON's 13-month-old daughter Gaia helped her deal with the bleak play Wit, in which she plays a brilliant academic dying of cancer. ``After the day's shooting I would go and play with my daughter,'' Thompson told reporters at the New York premiere of the TV adaptation of the play, which was directed by MIKE NICHOLS. ``When you've got a daughter, there's always family stuff to do.'' She also made a point of cutting off her hair for her role in front of Gaia so she would not be shocked by her mother's appearance.

JOAN COLLINS is hoping for a sequel to follow These Old Broads, the made-for-TV film in which she starred with DEBBIE REYNOLDS, SHIRLEY MacLAINE and ELIZABETH TAYLOR. Collins, 67, who sang and danced along with professionals Reynolds and MacLaine in the film, also did the splits during a dance number. ``My grandmother, who was a variety show performer, taught me how to the splits when I was child,'' she explained.

SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS looks set to be transformed from flesh-eater to fraudster as Hannibal hits UK cinemas this weekend. For the man who played Hannibal Lecter is frontrunner for the role of disgraced studio head and Hollywood swindler David Begelman in Indecent Exposure. JEREMY IRONS and DUSTIN HOFFMAN have also been mentioned as candidates.

The British documentary maker NICK BROOMFIELD will be making his feature film directing debut with the story of Begelman, who headed Columbia Studios and was convicted of forging cheques before committing suicide. Sex and the City star KIM CATTRALL is in negotiations to star in a Broadway production of TENNESSEE WILLIAMS' A Streetcar named Desire. Cattrall, who plays the sexually ambitious Samantha in the weekly TV series, would portray the sexually tormented Blanche du Bois. Britain's SIR PETER HALL is set to direct, while one of his proteges, newcomer JOHN DINO, is likely to play Stanley Kowalski. ELIZABETH SHUE will play Stella Kowalski.

BOB HOSKINS is to star in a joint US-British TV production of SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE's The Lost World. The British actor will play Professor George Challenger in the three-hour film while PETER FALK will cameo as the Reverend Theo Kerr. TOM WARD, JAMES FOX, MATTHEW RHYS and ELAINE CASSIDY are also among the cast. The production, which will feature digital dinosaurs created in London special effects studios, begins shooting in New Zealand later this month. The film is scheduled to run on the BBC at Christmas and in the US on the A&E network in the second half of 2002.

Oscar-winning composer ELMER BERNSTEIN is bound for Rome to begin work with MARTIN SCORSESE on the score of The Gangs of New York. It will be the sixth time they have teamed on a film. Bernstein, who is celebrating his 50th anniversary of composing film scores, will first conduct a special FRED ASTAIRE tribute at the London Palladium on Sunday. He was a friend of Astaire's for many years. The Palladium event is being produced by Astaire's daughter AVA McKENZIE and, Bernstein tells Daily Variety: ``It will be an affectionate look at things he did.''

Director BRIAN DE PALMA has chosen former supermodel REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS as his modern day RITA HAYWORTH. He was looking for a bombshell Hayworth type to join ANTONIO BANDERAS and JEAN RENO in Femme Fatale, the film he has written about a woman who fails to outrun her past. Romijn-Stamos, who played Mystique in X-Men and has just finished co-starring in a remake of Rollerball, flew to France to meet De Palma who signed her immediately. He is now tailoring the script to suit her.

DAME MAGGIE SMITH is set to join SANDRA BULLOCK, ASHLEY JUDD and ELLEN BURSTYN in the ensemble cast of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. She will play one of a group of women known as the Ya-Yas, who set down their hopes and dreams in a diary which is passed down to the next generation.

Screenwriter CARRIE FISHER sought the blessing of her mother DEBBIE REYNOLDS and stepmother ELIZABETH TAYLOR before penning a satire about three ageing actresses. Reynolds, SHIRLEY MacLAINE and JOAN COLLINS star as the trio in These Old Broads, while Taylor plays the talent agent who reunites them for a TV special. ``It was a very serious thing for them - here's the daughter of one, who's the stepdaughter of the other,'' MacLaine tells the Los Angeles Times. ``The three of them met and decided what they would and wouldn't say. It was Hollywoodishly historical.'' CARRIE FISHER's father was EDDIE FISHER, who left Reynolds for Taylor, causing a major scandal at the time.

BRUCE GREENWOOD is heading for the Second World War thriller Below amid widespread acclaim for his performance as President JOHN F KENNEDY in Thirteen Days. He will play the skipper of a haunted submarine sent to rescue three survivors from a sunken British hospital ship. His co-star is British actress OLIVIA WILLIAMS. His role casts further doubt on the future of Basic Instinct 2, in which he was due to co-star with SHARON STONE, playing a psychiatrist to her sociopathic murderess. It seemed a deal had been done last week and shooting was to begin next month but the film's financiers were reportedly concerned about rising costs.

JOHN TRAVOLTA's brother Joey has bought the film and television rights to the life story of actor SAL MINEO, 25 years after his murder. JOEY TRAVOLTA wants to direct a feature film based on the life of Mineo, who was 37 when he was murdered outside his Hollywood apartment. His killer was later sentenced to life in prison. ``He was an American icon but a lot of people still don't know him or know of him,'' Travolta told the Hollywood Reporter. ``I have known his body of work for years and have always been a fan of his.'' Mineo's career began in the 1950s and he went on to star in more than 30 films. He earned an Oscar nomination for his role opposite JAMES DEAN in Rebel Without a Cause and a Golden Globe for his performance in Exodus with PAUL NEWMAN and EVA MARIE SAINT.

RENEE ZELLWEGER is to work with British director PETER KOSMINKSY on her next film, White Oleander. The Golden Globe-winning actress will play the daughter of a woman, played by MICHELLE PFEIFFER, who murders a former lover and is imprisoned for life. Zellweger has spent almost six months in London filming Bridget Jones's Diary.

Guitarist DON FELDER, who joined the Eagles in 1974 and co-wrote the band's landmark hit Hotel California, is suing former bandmates DON HENLEY and GLENN FREY. He claims they sacked him from the group last week at ``a board of directors meeting'', and is seeking an account of all the money earned by the Eagles since he joined them. DANIEL PETROCELLI, who represents Henley and Frey, said ``the action to terminate Mr Felder's relationship was taken in the best interest of the Eagles''. The British film Liam will be released in the US this summer despite concern that American audiences may not understand the accents. Liam is directed by STEPHEN FREARS, written by JIMMY McGOVERN and set in the Irish Catholic quarter of Liverpool in the 1930s. The story is seen through the eyes of seven-year-old Liam, played by newcomer ANTHONY BORROWS, as his family sinks into poverty during the Depression. The film will be released in the US by Lions Gate Releasing, which has also acquired the rights to release ELIZABETH HURLEY's latest film, Double Whammy.

DONALD TRUMP is to be the host of a reality TV series in which contestants are challenged to spend one million dollars in half an hour. The property tycoon will host Billionaire from his office at the top of Trump Towers in New York. The show will select four contestants each week to take the challenge, with all of them asked to compete on the spur of the moment when they are under duress. ``They will be enlisted when they're about to get married or there'll be a husband in a delivery room, waiting for the birth of his child,'' said Trump, who will be appearing in his first TV series.

Coronation Street actor MATTHEW MARSDEN has been cast in RIDLEY SCOTT's military drama Black Hawk Down which is due to begin shooting soon. Marsden, who next appears as MICHAEL CAINE's son in Shiner, will appear alongside EWAN McGREGOR and JOSH HARTNETT in the story of US troops on a disastrous mission in Somalia.

NEIL DIAMOND is back on screen playing himself in the comedy Saving Silverman, more than 20 years after making his film debut. Diamond also wrote an original song for the film, his first original movie composition since the ill-fated The Jazz Singer. The singer says he has turned down all film offers since 1980 because ``I decided that I'd rather be a really good singer than a mediocre actor and that I would concentrate on my music, my records and my shows''. Saving Silverman stars JACK BLACK, JASON BIGGS and STEVE ZAHN as fans who have a Neil Diamond cover band called Diamonds in the Rough. ``This move is really more about my fans than anything else and about their devotion over the years,'' Diamond tells the Los Angeles Times. ``It was the kind of thing I had to do. It's a tribute to my fans and to fans in general.''

A musical version of the 1968 comedy film The Producers is about to open on Broadway with NATHAN LANE and MATTHEW BRODERICK in the roles originally played by ZERO MOSTEL and GENE WILDER. Mel Brooks, who wrote and directed the film, has written the songs for the new version. ``Once I started writing them I couldn't stop,'' says Brooks. ``Over the years there's always been talk of turning the movie into a musical but it didn't take hold until three years ago when the producer DAVID GEFFEN kept at me to do it.'' Lane plays Max Bialystock, the unscrupulous producer who persuades investors to put their money in a musical called Springtime for Hitler and Broderick is Leo Bloom, the accountant who falls under his influence.

The British film-maker PETER HOWITT, who wrote and directed Sliding Doors, is to next direct a remake of the 1946 film Vacation From Marriage. The project has been put on the fast track at Warner Bros. ``We're all fans of Sliding Doors and can't wait for Peter to bring the same perception and wit to this project,'' producer SHULER DONNER tells the Hollywood Reporter. The original film, which starred DEBORAH KERR and ROBERT DONAT, is about a couple in a dull marriage who are separated for three years when the husband serves in the Navy during the Second World War. While apart they take steps to divorce but end up rediscovering each other. The new version has been updated to the present day and the separation now stems from the husband being sent to Indonesia on business while the wife lands a job in New York. No casting has yet been announced.

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