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ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...

JUDE LAW, EMILY WATSON and KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS are among a 20-strong cast of actors set to star in ROBERT ALTMAN's period film Gosford Park. HELEN MIRREN and MICHAEL GAMBON could also be in the cast of what will be Altman's first British ensemble piece, according to Daily Variety. ``Lots of actors want to be in the film but it is a question of fitting it into their schedules,'' said a spokesman for Altman, who has taken a house in England for a year. The story of a hunting party murder, Gosford Park is due to begin filming in March at Shepperton Studios and on locations in the English countryside.

COURTNEY LOVE claims she was forced to pull out of the JOHN CARPENTER film Ghosts of Mars because a female stalker drove over her foot. The singer-actress has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Lesley Barber, the ex-wife of her current flame, Jim Barber. According to the suit, Love was a victim of Lesley's ``20-month campaign of stalking'' that began when Love became involved with her husband. Love claims her foot injury forced her to forfeit her role in Ghosts of Mars and the $300,000 fee that went with it. NATASHA HENSTRIDGE replaces her, while British actor JASON STATHAM also stars.

The father of Almost Famous star KATE HUDSON says he was left off the guest list for his daughter's New Year's Eve wedding to rock singer CHRIS ROBINSON. ``I was not invited,'' singer-comedian BILL HUDSON tells People magazine. ``Nor was her half-sister Emily or her half-brother Zachary. ``Kate and Emily talk and you'd think everything was on a rosy path, but I guess not. I didn't even know she was getting married until three weeks ago.'' Kate, 21, was given away at the ceremony by actor KURT RUSSELL, the long-time companion of her mother GOLDIE HAWN.

Los Angeles homicide detectives say they have no suspects in the killing of writer SUSAN BERMAN, who was found shot dead in her home on Christmas Eve. Berman, 55, wrote a best-selling memoir about growing up in Las Vegas as the daughter of the late gangster Davy Berman, Bugsy Siegel's partner in the Flamingo Hotel. She also wrote about the Mafia in several books and in a four-hour TV documentary she produced. She was working on other Las Vegas-themed projects at the time of her death, according to her manager. Her adopted son, Sareb Kaufman, told the Hollywood Reporter: ``There's a theory going around that the mob did it but I don't think so. I don't think they would have anything to do with this.''

JOAQUIN PHOENIX, who has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in Gladiator, is to join CLAIRE DANES in an intense love story, It's All About Love. They will play lovers who realise their relationship is the one rock in an era on the brink of spiritual collapse. Walt Disney is developing a sequel to the 1982 cult science-fiction classic Tron. The original film, which starred JEFF BRIDGES and BRUCE BOXLEITNER, was about a video game designer who entered a computer and battled software he helped create. The new plot will follow an ambitious hacker who transports himself into cyberspace to pull off the ultimate computer invasion. No cast has yet been set although the original writer-director STEVEN LISBERGER is working on the new script and will once again direct.

The British martial arts expert and actor RAY PARK is to play the title role in the film version of the Iron Fist Marvel comic book. It is a major career boost for Park, who is best known for his roles as Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace and as the long-tongued Toad in X-Men. The martial arts-themed Iron Fist tells the story of Danny Rand, a child raised in a Far East secret temple, who returns to the US as an adult to avenge his parents' murderer.

RON HOWARD is going against the Hollywood trend and refusing to make a sequel to his Christmas hit, Dr Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas. ``There's not a chance we'd want to do one,'' director Howard told the New York Daily News, adding that he didn't realise the film would be so successful. ``We always knew the marketing would be good but it's the repeat business that's a pleasant surprise,'' he said. ``The movie works because of Jim Carrey's performance and the time of the year. But another one? No.''

British director, MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM, whose latest film The Claim took three years to make, is returning to England and low-budget film-making for his next project, 24 Hour Party People. The film follows the lives and changing music scene among a group of friends in Manchester from 1976 to 1992. Winterbottom, whose previous films include Welcome to Sarajevo and Wonderland, is not interested in making expensive projects. ``The sort I started watching that made me want to make films were not huge-budget ones,'' he says. ``I just try and make films that I'm interested in.''

Although he tends to shun action films nowadays, SEAN CONNERY would be more than happy to be offered a role in the next Indiana Jones adventure. The 70-year-old actor has fond memories of his role as Harrison Ford's cranky father in the last instalment, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. ``It was hard work with long days and different locations all over the place, but it was a fun movie because of the calibre of the actors and the director, STEVEN SPIELBERG,'' he says. ``It was a very, very pleasurable experience and I would be happy to do it again.''

RIDLEY SCOTT is negotiating with actor-playwright SAM SHEPARD to star in his Black Hawk Down, which is to begin filming next month and is being produced by JERRY BRUCKHEIMER. The British director wants Shepard to play Garrison, a Vietnam War veteran who joins US troops on a peacekeeping mission to Somalia. JOSH HARTNETT, who starred in Bruckheimer's Pear Harbour, will play a young soldier on his first combat mission.

STEVEN SPIELBERG has withdrawn his application to build a massive indoor horse riding ring in a residential area of Los Angeles after complaints from his neighbours. The Oscar-winning director had expected to spend 5 million on the project for his wife, actress KATE CAPSHAW. But he has said in a letter to planning officials that he may resubmit his application after hearing the concerns of the residents.

JULIANNE MOORE, famous for her raunchy scenes in Boogie Nights and The End of the Affair, had her trickiest one yet in the upcoming film World Traveler. Her love interest is played by BILLY CRUDUP, who is the best friend of Moore's boyfriend, BART FREUNDLICH, the film's director. ``It was really uncomfortable for me,'' Moore tells Jane magazine. ``They kept referring to it as the scene where the director's girlfriend kisses one of his best friends. I hate it.'' She says: ``World Traveller is a very personal film about being a parent.'' But she insists it is not based on her life with Freundlich, who is the father of her three-year-old son, Caleb. ``Bart says we're going to wear T-shirt that says, `This is not about us','' she adds.

JOHN MALKOVICH has offered the hotel he owns in southern France as a venue for some of the scenes for his next film, Ripley's Game, which is due to begin later this month. It is based on another of the late PATRICIA HIGHSMITH's novels about the psychopathic imposter Tom Ripley. The story finds Ripley 20 years after The Talented Mr Ripley at a dinner party where he is insulted by another guest. Plotting revenge, he sets up the man who insulted him to be blamed for the murder of two Mafia hitmen who had been tracking Ripley. The success of the Broadway revival of his 1960 play The Best Man has prompted GORE VIDAL to adopt his novel Burr for the stage. He is at work on the project, which will be his first piece for the stage since he completed An Evening with Richard Nixon and... in 1972. The playwright tells Daily Variety the play-in-progress is ``about treason, incest and George Washington's teeth''.

TEA LEONI is happy to be playing second fiddle to dinosaurs in the second sequel to Jurassic Park, which is filming in Hawaii. ``I have a lot of friends who have kids and I've been dying to do a movie where I can bring them all to the premiere,'' she tells USA Today. She also says there are adult advantages to the role. ``I'm the only girl, and I'm surrounded by these great men - MICHAEL JETER, ALESSANDRO NIVOLA, SAM NEILL, WILLIAM H MACY and TREVOR MORGAN, who plays my son. ``I feel like I'm surrounded by a bunch of brothers. I've never had this much fun and maybe that's going to show in the work,'' she says.

MARK RUFFALO, who is being tipped for an Oscar nomination for his role in You Can Count on Me, has signed to co-star with ROBERT REDFORD in The Castle. MARK WAHLBERG was originally due to play the role but pulled out because of other commitments. In The Castle, which begins shooting in mid-March, Redford will play a convicted general who is sent to a maximum security prison where he turns the convicts - including Ruffalo - into his own army.

Screenwriter TED TALLY, who won an Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs is now working on the screenplay for Red Dragon, the THOMAS HARRIS book which first introduced Hannibal Lecter to the world. Tally, who passed on writing the screenplay for the soon-to-be-released Hannibal because he found the book's violence excessive, is altering theplot of Red Dragon to feature more of Lecter because, he says, ANTHONY HOPKINS is willing to return yet again in the role. In the book Lecter is behind bars and gives an FBI agent tips on what maybe in the mind of another serial killer. Instead, Tally will spring him from prison and let him run loose. ``But,'' he says, ``I never show Lecter eating people. It's just too gross. I just imply it.''

The former supermodel REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS had to learn to ride a motorcycle while actor CHRIS KLEIN had to learn to speed skate for their roles in the science-fiction action-drama Rollerball. A remake of the 1975 film which starred JAMES CAAN, Rollerball centres on a futuristic sport that becomes increasingly popular as its violence escalates. Klein, who stars as an athlete who finds fame on the rollerball track, spent six weeks training with members of Canada's Olympic speed-skating team. ``I've had my fair share of falls and I've got some pretty good bumps and bruises.''

RYAN PHILLIPPE is the actor being mentioned as the leading contender to star in a feature film based on The Incredible Hulk comic strip. According to reports Universal is developing a screenplay which has theHulk's alter ego BRUCE BANNER on the run after falling victim to gamma technology. Unlike the television series, which starred BILL BIXBY, Banner will find romance and also battle Absorbing Man, a villain from the comic book series.

The British author JOANNE HARRIS'S next book, Five Quarters of an Orange, has been snapped up by Hollywood even before she has finished it. ``It's about islanders who take over a beach, but that's all I can say about it right now,'' says Harris, whose Chocolat was bought by producer David Brown and turned into a Golden Globe-nominated film.

ANNA NICOLE SMITH is annoyed at Playboy for running what she calls ``tacky'' old pictures of her in its February issue. The former outsize model, who was recently awarded $300 million from her late husband's estate, shows off her curves in a nude layout in theearly 90s. Several of the photographs show a smiling Smith wrapped in mink and dripping diamonds, appearing to gloat over her riches. Smith's spokesman, David Granoff, says she refused to cooperate with Playboy's requests for new pictures and an interview and said the current unauthorised layout was ``a slap in the face''. ``These pictures are very tacky,'' he tells the New York Post. ``They are annoying and they make light of her situation.''

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