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ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...
E! Entertainment TV channel has hired PRINCE EDWARD
to add another documentary series to its schedule.
The new series, Royalty A-Z, will be produced by his
Ardent Productions company and will feature interviews
with servants and friends of the Royal Family as well
as a look inside the royal homes. It is due to make
its debut in April 2002 to coincide with the Golden
Jubilee of the Queen's ascent to the throne. E! executive
GREG BRANNAN said the Prince is expected to provide
E! with unprecedented access to the royal family.
``Not only will we have the ultimate access to the
Royal Family and their friends, but I believe that
you'll be surprised at the type of documentary style
Ardent will add to E!'s own definitive insider style,''
two stars of The Matrix sequels, KEANU REEVES and
CARRIE-ANNE MOSS, have injured themselves training
for their stunts. Moss hurt her knee and had to spend
six weeks on crutches while Reeves has a cast on his
foot although he hopes to have it removed in time
for Sunday's Golden Globes awards. Filming is due
to begin shortly on the two Matrix sequels, with Matrix
2 due out next year and Matrix 3 in 2003.
STEVEN SPIELBERG is working long hours to edit his
latest film A.I. before beginning work with TOM CRUISE
on his next project, Minority Report. It marks a drastic
change of pace for Spielberg, who took more than two
years off after making Saving Private Ryan but now
has two films in production at once. Cruise is also
working harder than usual and will only have two weeks
off after finishing Vanilla Sky for CAMERON CROWE
before joining Spielberg.
MICHAEL CAINE had eight costume changes and wore three
different wigs during the two weeks he worked on director
FRED SCHEPISI's Last Orders. In the film, based on
GRAHAM SWIFT's Booker Prize winning novel, Caine plays
a recently deceased man. His long-time friends - TOM
COURTENAY, BOB HOSKINS and DAVID HEMMINGS - and his
son, played by RAY WINSTONE, carry his ashes from
London to the coast. The story spans 40 years, with
Caine's younger self being played by newcomer JJ FIELD.
``He's better looking than me, which is marvellous,''
Caine tells Premiere magazine. ``And he's a good actor,
which is more important.'' Caine is taking a holiday
before beginning work with BRENDAN FRASER in Vietnam
on the remake of GRAHAM GREENE's novel The Quiet American.
BOB NEWHART had to learn how to be a bad golfer for
his role in the comedy golfing film Doc Waddems. Newhart
is an accomplished golfer with a handicap of nine
but he had to play a ``differ'' in the film. ``It's
the closest I've ever come to method acting,'' he
said. ``I had to come up with a swing that wasn't
my own.'' The actor-comedian went to his local golf
club and watched players teeing off. ``I would make
mental notes of terrible swings and what terrible
golfers do and then incorporate them,'' says Newhart.
French film icon LESLIE CARON is less than happy with
her role in director LASSE HALLSTROM's acclaimed Chocolat.
The 70-year-old actress, who is making promotional
appearances for the film in America, says of her role
as one of the French village women: ``It's very small.
``I have no real scenes and no significant lines.
I appear always with these other old ladies, sort
of as a disapproving Greek chorus, '' she tells syndicated
columnist Liz Smith. ``That was all right - I was
doing it for Lasse. But then they had to stick that
damn white wig on my head! I don't think anybody even
knows I'm in the picture.''
Hill writer RICHARD CURTIS and producers DUNCAN KENWORTHY
and ERIC FELLNER are being sued by a screenwriter
who claims they stole his idea for the 1999 hit film.
In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court Nick
Villiers says he was a long-time friend and business
partner of Fellner, to whom he gave a manuscript for
a project called Cheek in 1988. Villiers claims he
revised Cheek several times at Fellner's suggestion
over a nine-year period, including a version for a
television series that never materialised. Their friendship
ended with the release of Notting Hill which, he says,
has numerous similarities to Cheek. These include
the theme of an ordinary Englishman who meets and
has a romance with the biggest star in the world.
His lawsuit seeks damages for breach of a confidential
relationship, fraud and misappropriation.
giant black actor MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN is set to
join DWAYNE ``THE ROCK'' JOHNSON in The Scorpion King,
the prequel to The Mummy Returns. The Rock, who makes
his acting debut in a small role in The Mummy Returns,
has been given the starring role in The Scorpion.
He plays an assassin who becomes the reluctant leader
of an army that battles an evil warlord. Duncan, who
was Oscar-nominated for The Green Mile and is filming
Planet of the Apes, would play a warrior.
LAWFORD is following in the footsteps of his late
father, the British actor PETER LAWFORD, by appearing
in Ocean's Eleven. Lawford senior starred in the 1960
film with fellow Rat Packers FRANK SINATRA, DEAN MARTIN
and SAMMY DAVIS JR. Now director STEVEN SODERBERGH
is finding a role for Christopher in the new version
he is due to begin filming next month with GEORGE
CLOONEY, MATT DAMON and JULIA ROBERTS. Christopher
can be seen on screen as a pilot in Thirteen Days,
a film about his uncles, President JOHN F KENNEDY
and former senator ROBERT KENNEDY.
STACK, who played a memorably comic pilot in the 1980
spoof Airplane!, is to return to the role in a new
comedy, View From the Top. Stack has a cameo role
in the film, which stars GWYNETH PALTROW as a budding
airline stewardess. KELLY PRESTON, CHRISTINA APPLEGATE
and CANDICE BERGEN play fellow stewardesses.
PITT, who played an Irish gypsy fighter in Snatch,
is urging director GUY RITCHIE to make a western.
``I want him to reinvent the American western,'' Pitt
tells Premiere magazine. ``He's like SAM PECKINPAH.
Peckinpah's a legend but Guy's heading that way.''
Pitt, who asked the British writer-director for a
part in Snatch after seeing Lock, Stock and Two Smoking
Barrels, thinks Ritchie will be at the forefront of
a new wave in film-making. ``We're talking about artists
and pioneers... and Guy will be a part of that,''
STONE reportedly wants to play LANA TURNER in a film
about the actress and her gangster lover JOHNNY STOMPANATO.
Stone is said to want RICHARD GERE to star with her
in the story of the ill-fated romance that ended when
Stompanato was stabbed to death. Meanwhile, Stone,
42, is still waiting for a leading man to star opposite
her in Basic Instinct 2.
CHARLTON HESTON, who starred as the captured astronaut
in 1967's Planet of the Apes, is returning for a cameo
role in the new version of the sci-fi adventure being
filmed at Sony studios. This time the 76-year-old
actor is playing one of the apes and spent four hours
being transformed by Oscar-winning make-up artist
Rick Baker for his day's work on the film. The new
version stars MARK WAHLBERG as the stranded pilot
while the main ape roles are played by TIM ROTH, HELENA
BONHAM CARTER, KRIS KRISTOFFERSON and MICHAEL CLARKE
soon as she finishes her promotional duties for Hannibal,
JULIANNE MOORE will be heading to Newfoundland. There
she will start production with KEVIN SPACEY to start
on the much-delayed film of the Pulitzer Prize-winning
novel The Shipping News. The drama centres on a newspaperman
who saves his two daughters and moves with them to
Canada after his wife sells them into prostitution.
It was originally to have starred JOHN TRAVOLTA and
his wife KELLY PRESTON. BILLY
BOB THORNTON was then in talks to star and direct
but producer IRWIN WINKLER and director LASSE HALLSTROM
have now settled on Spacey and Moore.
MALKOVICH is to take the role of a gangster originally
intended for DUSTIN HOFFMAN in the love story And
Now Ladies and Gentleman. The French director CLAUDE
LELOUCH says he wrote the gangster role with Hoffman
in mind but has now settled on Malkovich. In the story
the gangster falls in love with a bar-room singer
to be played by the French performer PATRICIA KAAS.
FONDA's 10-year break from acting will end when she
appears in a gala benefit performance of the successful
off-Broadway play The Vagina Monologues. Fonda, who
has also contributed one million dollars to the event,
is to take the stage to act in the final scene, reports
the New York Daily News. Her name appears among a
star-studded list of women, including OPRAH WINFREY,
CALISTA FLOCKHART, WINONA RYDER, GLENN CLOSE and ALI
MacGRAW. They will gather at New York's Madison Square
Garden on February 10 for a rally demanding an end
to violence against women, dubbed V-Day. The play's
performance will mark highlight of the event.
ANDREWS and CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, who starred together
in The Sound of Music, are teaming up again for the
drama On Golden Pond. They are due to begin rehearsals
soon for the TV production of the famous play. A 1981
film of the story of a crotchety retired professor
and his wife starred KATHERINE HEPBURN and HENRY FONDA.
international cast is being assembled for the political
thriller Code: Baltic Storm, which goes into production
this summer in Malta, Germany and Denmark. The film
is based on the 1994 sinking of the Estonia, which
cost the lives of more than 900 passengers. It was
written by Canadian JA GEODET, directed by Poland's
FELIKS FALK and co-produced by Danish film-maker TIMO
LAHTINEN. Based on the theory that the sinking was
no accident, it speculates a foreign power caused
it to stop an advanced weapons system from being smuggled
into the US.
KURT RUSSELL is the latest actor to turn down the
male lead in Basic Instinct 2. The 1992 original thriller
starred SHARON STONE and MICHAEL DOUGLAS, but he declined
to reprise his the role. Although Sharon Stone has
signed on for the sequel, the producers are having
difficulty in finding a co-star. Another choice, ROBERT
DOWNEY JR, is facing drug charges. An MGM spokeswoman
insists the project is still going ahead and the search
for a leading man will continue. The comedy film Orange
County seems to be teeming with offspring of the famous.
HANKS's son COLIN HANKS and SISSY SPACEK's daughter
SCHUYLER FISK are two of the leading actors directed
by JAKE KASDAN, the son of The Big Chill director
LAWRENCE KASDAN. Hanks plays a high school student
whose aspirations to go to college are endangered
when his exam papers become mixed up with those of
his underachieving classmate.
PACINO is about to become the father of twins. His
girlfriend BEVERLY D'ANGELO is expected to give birth
before Sunday, when Pacino is due to receive the Cecil
B DeMille award at the Golden Globes ceremony. Pacino's
next appearance on screen will be with KIM BASINGER
and TEA LEONI in the drama People I Know. He will
play a veteran New York press agent whose famous actor-client,
to be played by RYAN O'NEAL, becomes involved in a
scandal. Ben Cartwright and his sons will soon be
riding back on to the small screen in The Ponderosa,
a prequel to the classic Bonanza series which ran
from 1959-1973. No casting has yet been announced
for the series, which will be launched with a two-hour
pilot episode. The original starred LORNE GREENE,
MICHAEL LANDON and PERNELL ROBERTS.
British screenwriter SIMON MOORE predicts the six-hour
television mini-series Dinotopia will be ``one of
the biggest TV events of all time''. Moore, who also
wrote the mini-series Gulliver's Travels and The 10th
Kingdom, based his script on Jim Gurney's popular
children's book series. They tell of clothes-wearing
dinosaurs living peacefully with humans on a fantasy
continent. The plot will feature two boys who survive
a plane crash and are amazed to discover the Dinotopia
world. ``The effects budget on this is 20 million
dollars which for a TV show is a lot of money,'' Moore
tells USA Today.
JULIA ROBERTS is rich, beautiful and tipped to win
an Oscar this year for her performance in Erin Brokovich.
But the actress's friends know she's secretly going
to the dogs. After every big movie role, Roberts heads
out to the pound and adopts another stray mutt. The
soft-hearted actress has got seven former strays who
have the run of her mansion and often sleep on her
BRUCE WILLIS is the world's top film star according
to a newly-created index which could affect actors'
salaries and roles. The index, castmaker.com, tracks
the top 100 male and female stars based on box office
performances of their films. Willis is followed by
TOM HANKS, JULIA ROBERTS and MEL GIBSON. Although
JOHN TRAVOLTA earns 20 million dollars a film, his
box-office receipts don't even get him into the top
20. KEVIN COSTNER is even lower while SAMUEL L JACKSON
ranks higher than HARRISON FORD. Aside from Roberts,
CAMERON DIAZ is the only other actress ranked in the
top 20. KATE WINSLET just dropped from that position
because she has chosen to follow Titanic with smaller
films that have not been big box-office successes.
LEE's latest film, the Oscar-tipped Crouching Tiger,
Hidden Dragon, is to bring the comic book character
The Hulk to the big screen. The big-budget, special
effects-laden project has been written by X-Men scriptwriter
DAVID HAYTER. It centres on research scientist Bruce
Banner and his monstrous green-skinned alter ego,
the Hulk. No casting has yet been announced for the
film, which will be set in Berkeley, California, with
the misunderstood Hulk being pursued by the military
while attempting to ward off evil forces.
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