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ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...
Potter director CHRIS COLUMBUS has promised fans that
he has been faithful to the book and is not turning
it into another Home Alone, which was his first hit.
``People have been sceptical,'' he tells USA Today.
``They'd say, `Chris Columbus, my God, is he going
to turn it into Home Alone?' I promise, no! ``It was
a passion for me to be as faithful to the book as
possible. These books are incredibly imaginative,
classic stories. Why would you need to toy with that?''
Harry Potter, which is due to open on November 16,
stars DANIEL RADCLIFFE, of whom Columbus says: ``He's
got a sense of wisdom and intelligence and real sort
of haunted quality that Harry Potter has.''
news that JULIA ROBERTS and BENJAMIN BRATT had ended
their romance came as surprise to journalists who
attended a press conference with theactress in New
York last weekend. There, she talked about her love
for him and how they share so much together. It was
only later that Bratt's spokeswoman confirmed that
they had separated - a month ago, according to sources.
The break-up is bound to hound Roberts as she does
publicity for America's Sweethearts, her upcoming
film about a press agent who must deal with the messy
split of two stars just as their new film is coming
HALEY JOEL OSMENT's parents are doubtful about allowing
the young star to see himself in the often dark and
sinister AI, his co-star JUDE LAW has no such qualms.
``Jude's really keen to have a screening in London
with our 11-year-old son and some of his friends,''
Law's wife, actress SADIE FROST, told interviewers.
``He thinks they'll be able to hand it. They've already
got wild imaginations.'' She said Law, who plays a
robot lover named Gigolo Joe, thinks today's children
are ready to deal with ``bigger, more adult questions.''
VAUGHN, who in the 1960s starred in the television
series The ManFrom Uncle, has found a new career as
a lecturer. He is one of the stars from Hollywood's
``Golden Age'' who are going to sea to take part in
the Renaissance Cruise line's new VIP Speaker Series.
Other celebrities lined up to entertain the passengers
include JANE POWELL, DICK MOORE, and astronaut SCOTT
DEPARDIEU is to portray his fellow countryman, Charles
de Gaulle in a film of the former French president's
life. ``The part of his life that fascinates me is
when he left France during theOccupation to when he
returns, when his leadership was in doubt and he was
being tested,'' says Depardieu, who has just returned
from Cambodia where MATT DILLON directed him in Under
The Banyan Tree. ``The film was originally going to
be titled City Of Ghosts,'' Depardieu tells the New
York Post, ``but the authorities in Cambodia were
very sensitive about dead people because of all the
problems they have had there, so wechanged it.''
ALLEN is piling up the movie projects. His latest
comedy, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, is not due
to open until August, but he has already completed
his next picture, Hollywood Ending. Sources say it
is a behind-the-scenes look at the film business and,
unlike the 1940s-set Scorpion, takes place now. Some
scenes were reportedly shot in the New York offices
of DreamWorks, the studio distributing the film. Besides
Allen, the cast includes TEA LEONI, TREAT WILLIAMS,
GEORGE HAMILTON and DEBRA MESSING.
SMITH and TOMMY LEE JONES will be battling oestrogen-fuelled
extraterrestrials in Men In Black 2 which is now in
production. ``The big lead baddie is a female alien
- and we're doing a number of other female creatures
for this one as well,'' make-up wizard RICK BAKER
tells Entertainment Weekly magazine. FAMKE JANSSEN,
who was the villainess in the James Bond film GoldenEye,
will play the alien Amazon among a host of familiar
foes. ``The worm guys from the first film are coming
back in a big way,'' says Baker. ``They're practically
the stars of the movie.''
HASSELLHOFF is preparing for a television comeback
with a new version of his 1980s talking car series
Knight Rider. The former Baywatch star has already
enlisted the return of WILLIAM DANIELS, who provided
the original voice of the car, KITT, and scripts are
being prepared. The new series will be set further
in the future with Michael Knight coming out of retirement
and hiring two young assistants. ``I'll be the older,
cool boss who oversees this incredibly updated car,''
LITHGOW has embarked on what he calls a Perfectly
Ridiculous Tour of America with his son Nathan to
``bring back vaudeville for little children''. He
is travelling by bus to at least 10 cities to give
concerts aimed at entertaining and educating children.
``I'm doing it because I love it,'' he says. ``Kids
are the most amazing audience and keeping them captivated
is the greatest challenge for a performer.'' Lithgow
sees the tour as a tune-up for his opening in the
musical Sweet Smell of Success in Chicago in the autumn,
in advance of its planned Broadway debut next March.
``I'm not particularly fretful about taking on a singing
and dancing role, but the more I do beforehand, the
better,'' says Lithgow, who plays the power-mad gossip
columnist JJ Hunsecker in the show. A cast of mainly
British actors is to provide the voices for the characters
in the animated film The Wild Thornberrys, which has
just gone into production at Paramount studios.
BRENDA BLETHYN, LYNN REDGRAVE, TIM CURRY and RUPERT
EVERETT are among those whose voices will be featured
in the film, which is based on a popular US TV series.
The story follows the adventures of Eliza Thornberry,
a 12-year-old who can talk to animals like Dr Dolittle.
She and her family travel the world search for exotic,
endangered animals to star in their nature documentaries.
Curry and Redgrave will voice Eliza's parents, Blethyn
the headmistress of Eliza's boarding school and Everett
the villain, Sloan Blackburn.
HARRELSON was so shaken by the recent bicycle accident
of his close friend, hemp activist JOE HICKEY, that
he stopped smoking pot for a few days. ``I usually
like to walk around in a perpetual fog,'' Harrelson
tells Premiere magazine. ``I've been so shaken up
lately that I can't even bring myself to smoke weed.
It's been four days since I burned one.'' Harrison
says he is so involved in his own pro-pot activism
that he has put his acting career on hold. ``It's
not a priority,'' he says. ``If I lose my career,
I don't need it.'' Producers at Universal Pictures
plan to cast a top American comic actor in British
playwright ANDREW MARSHALL's film, Scary Poppins.
The story focuses on a confidence trickster who poses
as a nanny to evade capture from other con men and
GEORGE CLOONEY is to make his directing debut with
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind now BRYAN SINGER has
left the helm to work on X-Men 2. Clooney will also
star in the story of game show host CHUCK BARRIS,
who claims he was also a CIA assassin while hosting
The Gong Show TV series. The project has been in the
works for some time an d has attracted the interest
of stars like MIKE MYERS, JOHNNY DEPP, BEN STILLER
and SEAN PENN. Now it seems certain the project will
go ahead, with Clooney taking the role of the government
agent who recruits Barris. JOHNNY DEPP is reportedly
in line for the Barris role.
heart-throb GORAN VISNJIC has signed a lucrative four-year
deal that runs through the 11th season of the hit
medical drama. Details are not being disclosed but
the deal is believed to put Visnjic in the six-figure-per-episode
club with the whole contract worth millions of pounds.
``He has been great for the show. He's a wonderful
actor and a consummate professional,'' says ER producer
and creator JOHN WELLS.
28-year-old actor was discovered through his role
in Welcome to Sarejevo. Director JOE ROTH is praising
CATHERINE ZETA-JONES's performance as a demanding
film star in the romantic comedy America's Sweethearts.
``The great thing to me was not only that Catherine
could do this comedy so well, but that she did it
so unapologetically,'' he said. ``She accepted the
fact that her character was very selfish. Catherine
is an old-fashioned movie star but at the same time
completely modern in her willingness and capability
to do absolutely anything.''
JOHN CUSACK co-stars as her estranged movie star husband
while JULIA ROBERTS plays her downtrodden assistant.
British writer CAROLE MATTHEWS' upcoming novel For
Better, For Worse is on the fast track in Hollywood.
BILL MECHANIC is rushing the project into development,
hoping to follow up on the success of Bridget Jones's
Diary. Described as Bridget Jones meets Sleepless
in Seattle, the story follows a newly divorced young
woman who finds romance while attending her cousin's
wedding in New York. The unexpected success of gangland
saga The Fast and The Furious has already seen director
ROB COHEN putting a sequel into development. Street-racing
is the other theme of the film, which stars VIN DIESEL
as the leader of a group of hotrod daredevils. Even
though it has only been in release in the US for a
week, it has already earned more than the 30 million
it cost to make.
Hook a helicopter with a crossbow from a moving Jeep,
shin up the attached line, wrestle with the pilot
and leap out before it crashes in flames. It was all
in a day's work as far as Charlie's Angels stuntwoman
DANA LYNN HEE was concerned. But her death-defying
feats in the film as stunt double for CAMERON DIAZ
have won her an award for Best Aerial Sequence at
Hollywood's first World Stunt Academy Awards. ``The
sequence was incredibly cool,'' says Hee. ``We got
lifted out of a Jeep. We're swinging in the air. Obviously,
if the line breaks, you're dead. But it's not as dangerous
as other stuff I've done.'' Hee has also risked life
and limb in Star Trek Voyager, The X-Files and Baywatch.
She has doubled for superstars such as NICOLE KIDMAN,
SANDRA BULLOCK and GEENA DAVIS, earning on average
a cool 300,000 dollars per year. The 39-year-old stuntwoman
has suffered broken bones, countless cases of concussion
and enough cuts, scratches and burns for an army platoon.
And she still loves what she does. ``I guess I'm kind
of nuts,'' she laughs. You can soon see Hee again,
this time trapped in a bus and being dangled from
a helicopter in JOHN TRAVOLTA's new action movie Swordfish.
X-Files star DAVID DUCHOVNY blames a missing comma
on his recent TV quiz show failure. Ivy League-educated
Duchovny stumbled on the 500,000-dollar question on
the celebrity edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
The former English teacher was asked to name the film
that ends with the line, `Good luck among them, English'.
Duchovny's reply was Braveheart, but the correct answer
was Witness. The furious star insisted that when the
line was displayed on the screen, the comma before
the word English was missing. But Duchovny, who appears
in sci-fi comedy Evolution, is not registering an
official complaint. He says wryly: ``So I wen t home
and I was like, `So there was no comma. How much of
an egghead, sour grapes idiot do you want to seem
by actually complaining about this?'''
some movie stars may have resorted to cosmetic treatment
to halt the march of time, for many the age of 40
still marks that psychological turning point. And
it may surprise you to learn that the energetic EDDIE
MURPHY, ever-youthful MICHAEL J FOX and ex-ER heart-throb
GEORGE CLOONEY have already reached the milestone.
Other stars who are turning the big 4-0 this year
include Spin City's HEATHER LOCKLEAR and Sopranos
boss JAMES GANDOLFINI, not to mention MEG RYAN, WOODY
HARRELSON and NYPD Blue's KIM DELANEY. So while some
may view 40 as the beginning of the end, these stars
are clearly going from strength to strength.
energy crisis has seen rolling blackouts sweep across
the state, with chat show host JAY LENO vowing to
do his part for energy conservation. To defeat the
darkness, he has suggested some innovative measures
while his Tonight Show with Jay Leno is being filmed.
Leno, his guests and the studio audience would don
coal miners' hats with little lights on the front.
Torches and glow-in-the-dark toys would also feature,
while the show's producers have promised a special
guest appearance by black chat show host ARSENIO HALL
in a segment featuring nocturnal animals.
star KEITH DUFFY has landed a movie role as a henchman
and driver for a gangland villain in a gangster movie.
He will shoot the film, whose working title is The
Gift, for STEVEN SPIELBERG's DreamWorks company, according
to his co-star TONY THOMPSON. Both Duffy and Thompson,
who sings for chart act Phats and Small, seem to be
branching out into movies after a solid grounding
in pop. Duffy had been hoping to play more gigs with
Boyzone later this year for a multi-million pound
reunion but frontman RONAN KEATING was too tied up
with his solo career.
LOPEZ spent more than three months learning Krav Maga,
a form of martial arts used by the Israeli armed forces,
for her role in British director MICHAEL APTED's drama
Enough. Apted, who directed the 1999 James Bond film,
The World Is Not Enough, says Lopez did 95% of her
own stunts for the film, in which she plays a working-class
waitress who fights back against her abusive husband.
British stunt co-ordinator, SIMON CRANE, who also
trained ANGELINA JOLIE for Tomb Raider, says: ``Just
like Angelina, Jennifer was very keen to do her own
stuff. She was very good. It was pretty scary at times.''
science-fiction author, RAY BRADBURY, will see two
of his books, Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles,
filmed again in the near future. Fahrenheit 451 was
first filmed in 1966 by FRANCOIS TRUFFAUT and starred
JULIE CHRISTIE and OSKAR WERNER. The Illustrated Man,
staring ROD STEIGER and CLAIRE BLOOM was filmed in
1969 - and was hated by the 81-year-old author. ``It
was adapted by an estate agent from New Jersey,''
he tells Daily Variety. Both films will be directed
by FRANK DARABONT, who has directed two films based
on STEPHEN KING stories, The Shawshank Redemption
and The Green Mile.
star KELSEY GRAMMAR is about to become the highest
paid actor in television history, reports Daily Variety.
He is on the verge of signing a new contract which
will keep him with the show for at least another two
years at a record fee of 1.2 million an episode. Grammar,
who was previously in Cheers, will have played the
Frasier character for almost two decades.
A deal is reportedly also being negotiated to keep
his Frasier co-star, DAVID HYDE PIERCE, with the show
for at least two more years. BRITNEY SPEARS has some
steamy love scenes with French-born model BRYCE DURAND
in her new music video, Don't Let Me Be the La st
to Know. And Durand says the singer is hardly an innocent
child. ``She's a really good kisser,'' he says in
the July issue of Bop magazine. ``It was easy and
I always felt she was very relaxed.'' But Spears's
mother, Lynne, had some initial objections to her
daughter rolling around on the beach with 23-year-old
Durand, so some editing was done. KATE BECKINSALE,
KATE MOSS and CHLOE SEVIGNY are all in contention
for the role of EDIE SEDGWICK, in a film about the
original New York It girl. Described as a cross between
The Sweet Smell of Success and the Great Gatsby, the
film will tell the story of Edie, the Andy Warhol
disciple, model and actress who was dubbed Girl of
the Year in 1965 by writer TOM WOLFE. ``A role like
this is rare in Hollywood,'' says CASSIAN ELWES, the
agent who is packaging the film. ``It's going to be
difficult to find an actress to fill the soul and
spirit of Edie Sedgwick.''
Searchlight has already begun its Oscar campaign for
the British gangster film Sexy Beast - nine months
before the nominations for the next awards. The company
is advertising in film industry newspapers and magazines,
offering free passes to Oscar, Golden Globes and Screen
Actors Guild voters who want to see the film. ``People
always criticise that Oscar campaigning starts too
early,'' Fox Searchlight president NANCY UTLEY tells
USA Today. ``But the film is out now and we figured
why not try to get voters to see it when it's in cinemas
with great projection and sound systems?'' The studio's
follow-up campaign will press the case of Sexy Beast
star BEN KINGSLEY as candidate for a best actor Oscar
nomination. He plays a gangster who visits a retired
colleague in Spain to persuade him to do one more