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Weekly's Gone By:WEEK-42-01
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week 27-01
ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...

MADONNA is about to stir up more controversy when her concert tour arrives at New York's Madison Square Garden later this month. Her spokeswoman has confirmed that she plans to include a scene in which she picks up a rifle and pretends to shoot a male dancer on stage. The murderous-looking number comes three months after her last shock scene - the video for her song What It Feels Like to be a Girl which featured her mowing down men in a car and then appearing to kill herself. Madonna's spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg said: ``Madonna hasn't explained what her intentions are in the show. The man she shoots was abusive to her earlier on. There's a thread that runs throughout the show about women and power. It's operatic.''

QUENTIN TARANTINO'S mother is following her son into film production andhas joined up with a company in the Czech Republic to produce independent features. Connie Zastoupil, a former hospital administrator, is to set up her office in Prague, leaving her son in Los Angeles to work on a follow-up to 1997's Jackie Brown. ``I originally came to research a project and hang out with the director but I became more and more involved and decided to stay in Prague,'' she tells Daily Variety. Plans for the fourth instalment in the Indiana Jones series have hit a stumbling block because the project will cost Paramount Pictures well over 100 million.

HARRISON FORD, who turns 59 next month, reportedly wants 20 million to return while producer GEORGE LUCAS and director STEVEN SPIELBERG each want a large portion of the film's proceeds. There are also script complications. Industry insiders believe the plots range from Jones's search for the lost city of Atlantis to his quest to find his long-lost brother. ``They already have three scripts that they think are acceptable but now George and Steven say they want to have writing control,'' a source tells the New York Post.

Filmmaker DAVID LYNCH has succeeded in turning a failed television series into what looks like becoming a hit feature film. Lynch, who created the cult series Twin Peaks, wrote and produced Mulholland Drive as a television series about the intertwined stories ofseveral couples living in Los Angeles, but it was turned down by the networks. Now he has made it into a film which has been acquired by Universal Pictures, the studio which last year took over Billy Elliot and made it an international hit. ``I work off enthusiasm and Universal has shown tremendous enthusiasm for Mulholland Drive,'' says Lynch. ``I am confident they will do a great job.''

Thirty-five years after WALT DISNEY died, more than 200 of his favourite sayings have been collected in a just-published book, The Quotable Walt Disney. ``It was actually put together 30 years ago as an internal studio document,'' said Dave Smith, the archivist at Walt Disney Studios. The book contains Disney's observations on everything from sequels (he didn't like them) to women as critics (``If the women like it, to heck with the men.'') Smith's favourite is one of Disney's most quoted: ``I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse.''

British stars MICHAEL CAINE, BOB HOSKINS, HELEN MIRREN and RAY WINSTONE Are all expected to be at the Toronto Film Festival this year for the world premiere of Last Orders. They co-star in the film, playing pals on a cross-country mission to scatter the ashes of a deceased friend. Also at the premiere will be the director, Australian Fred Schepisi, who adapted the script from Graham Swift's Booker Prize-winning novel.

JENNIFER LOPEZ has come under fire from the black community for using theword ``nigger'' on her new album. Angry listeners deluged her record label, Epic, with telephone calls after a black New York disc jockey drew attention to the lyrics of the single I'm Real. On the track Lopez sings: ``People are always asking me what's up with so-and-so (a reference to ex-boyfriend PUFFY COMBS) I tell those niggers mind their business, but they don't hear me, though.'' Spokesmen for Lopez and Epic have had no comment.

DENZEL WASHINGTON is about to start casting for an actor to take the title role in his directing debut, The Antwone Fisher Story which he is also producing. Filming was originally due to begin last summer but had to be postponed because of Washington's acting commitments. The Antwone Fisher Story is based on the true life story of Fisher, who was born in a prison, abused, raised in a succession of foster homes and managed to turn his life around in the Navy. He then set out to search for the family that had abandoned him. Washington will play the role of a Navy psychologist.

Titanic star BILLY ZANE is about to go into production with Starving, Hysterical, Naked, a low-budget film about Beat generation writer JACK KEROUAC he is producing as well as starring in. Focusing on Kerouac and his bohemian intellectual writing crowd in New York in the late 1940s, Starving, Hysterical, Naked also stars ROBERT WAGNER'S daughter NATASHA as the smart, Benzedrine-popping waif at the centre of the group.

NICOLE KIDMAN has reportedly abandoned her plans to film JANE CAMPION'S erotic In the Cut drama in New York this winter because the script will not be ready. Instead the Australian actress, who has just finished filming The Hours in London, will next star in the low-budget Dogsville for LARS VON TRIER in Denmark.

ASHLEY JUDD is taking over the role of the slinky, rubber-clad Catwoman who was played by MICHELLE PFEIFFER in Batman Returns. This time Catwoman will not be a sidebar to Batman's story but will be the central character in a film spin-off currently being developed by producer Denise DiNovi.

DAVID BOWIE says he has been approached to play Frank Sinatra in a film version of the crooner's life. Bowie gave no details, but told the New York Daily News: ``I'm flattered and very interested, because I always admired his style and panache.''

Backstreet Boy KEVIN RICHARDSON believes he is ready to make the move into acting. ``I'm looking for the right script - in film or television,'' the senior member of the pop phenomenon that is now in the middle of its Black and Blue concert tour says in an interview. ``I miss acting. I did a lot of theatre in high school and community theatre. I miss playing a character that's just totally not me.'' Richardson's wife, former dancer KRISTIN WILLITS whom he married a year ago, is already making her mark on the big screen and appears in the soon-to-be-released film Rock Star with MARK WAHLBERG and JENNIFER ANISTON.

LEONARDO DICAPRIO and Sopranos star JAMES GANDOLFINI still do not have a director for their next film, Catch Me if You Can. GORE VERBINSKI, who directed Gandolfini, JULIA ROBERTS and BRAD PITT inThe Mexican, was originally to have directed the film but dropped outwhen it had to be delayed because DiCaprio was still filming Gangs of New York. Then LASSE HALLSTROM stepped in and took over but this week announced that he, too, was dropping out but did not give a reason. A DreamWorks spokesman said the film, based on the true story of a confidence trickster, would go ahead as son as a new director is found.

ANGELINA JOLIE'S husband, BILLY BOB THORNTON, and her father JON VOIGHT were amo ng the crowd of spectators on a New York street watching her being shot in the chest by a cop for a scene in her new film, Life or Something Like It. In the film she plays a television reporter who interviews a psychic homeless man who tells her she is going to die within a few da ys. After filming her death scene several times, the actress got to her feet, and waved to the applauding crowd and then hugged her father and kissed here husband.

JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT, who played the devil in her most recent film, TheDevil and Daniel Webster, is back on the side of the good guys for her next project, The Tuxedo. In it she will play a government agent who is paired with a bumbling spy, to be played by JACKIE CHAN, who invents a tuxedo that helps him fight crime. It is due to start shooting in Toronto in September and is expected to be the first of several films featuring the characters.

WOODY ALLEN, who hates to leave New York, is packing up his clarinet and going on a three-city tour of jazz clubs to promote his new film, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Accompanied by banjoist EDDY DAVIS and His New Orleans Jazz Band, Allen will give concerts in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, marking the first time he has played on America's West Coast. His family - wife Soon-Yi, daughters Bechet, 2, and Manzie, 1, plus assorted nannies - will join him on the tour. ``My wife likes to go to California every now and then for a couple of days,'' Allen tells USA Today. ``I can ta ke it or leave it. But I can play jazz anywhere.''

X-Men director BRYAN SINGER is turning to television to direct the two-hour pilot episode of a new-style Battlestar Galactica series. The original series, which starred LORNE GREENE as the commander of a battleship of humans fleeing to Earth after an intergalactic war, ran from 1978-1980. The new version has been updated and will be set after the seventh-millennium time frame of the original. ``Our goal is to take the Galactica franchise and move it forward in both style and character while bringing the scope and sensibility of epic science-fiction filmmaking to the small screen,'' says Singer.

LUKE PERRY has emerged as the number one contender for the role of Rocky Balboa in the Broadway musical version of SYLVESTER STALLONE's Rocky. Stallone has decided he cannot commit himself to a long stage run and Perry, now on Broadway in The Rocky Horror Show, has endeared himself to tough New York audiences and has also demonstrated a competent singing voice.

Superman director RICHARD DONNER will be in the driver's seat for Crazy Taxi, the feature film version of Sega's best-selling video game. The film is expected to retain the visceral, high-energy feeling of the video game, which introduces a cas t of colourful cab drivers and rewards players for delivering customers to their destination as fast as possible by any means necessary. Cabs race through crowded streets and pavements, rush through subway tunnels and jump onto rooftops to make better time. Donner believes the game will translate well to the big screen because it is grounded in the real world. ``While a lot of video games are set in science-fiction environments or fantasy worlds, Crazy Taxi is set in New York City with a Russian cab driver,'' said Donner, whose films also include Lethal Weapon.

JENNIFER JASON LEIGH has reunited professionally with British director SAM MENDES, who directed her in Cabaret on Broadway. The actress, who is known to prefer offbeat roles in low-budget productions, has joined the cast of Mendes' film Road to Perdition, co-starring with TOM HANKS and JUDE LAW. ``I took it because I just love Sam Mendes,'' she said. ``I just want to make movies that I think are good. A lot of times mainstream movies try too hard to please a mass audience to be interesting.'' She recently appeared with her Cabaret co-star ALAN CUMMING in The Anniversary Party, which they wrote, directed and produced together.

CHARLES STONE III, who created the Whassup? Budweiser beer television commercials, is heading for the big screen. Stone, whose Whassup? campaign won the prestigious Grand Prix at Cannes, is to direct Drumline, a fish-out-of-water comedy about a Harlem street drummer who enrols in a southern university and leads its marching band to victory.

Although MONTY PYTHON's sometimes racy material was deemed suitable forthe Hollywood Bowl crowd 21 years ago, when the troupe recorded their Live at the Hollywood Bowl concert film, today's audiences are apparently less tolerant. ERIC IDLE was ordered to cut some of the vintage Python material out of his performance on Friday when he represented the Pythons at its induction into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. Specifically, the Bowl executives objected to the popular Python ditty Sit on My Face and ordered it cut from his repertoire, although he performed it - in drag - at Carnegie Hall last year. ``We certainly performed it at the Bowl 21 years ago,'' said Eric, ``but word came from on high not to do it this time. They seemed all upset, afraid some of the wealthy patrons would be offended.'' He reluctantly went along with the edict because, he said, ``This is a charity event and one has to be decent about charity things. Still, it's funny to think that after all this time, Monty Python is still raising controversy.''

SEAN ``PUFFY'' COMBS has enlisted a number of celebrity friends to make appearances in the video he has just shot for his record Bad Boy 4 Life. In it, he images the havoc he and his friends might wreak in a new house. ICE CUBE, SNOOP DOGG, and CARL THOMAS are among those who drop by and then MIKE TYSON thunders up with some pals on Harley-Davidsons. BEN STILLER plays the neighbour who fumes when Combs hits a golf ball through his window and then peers over the fence to watch Combs team up with basketball star SHAQUILLE O'NEAL for some hoops.

WILL SMITH and his wife JADA PINKET SMITH can lay claim to being the fittest celebrity couple in Hollywood. She has just completed three months of rigorous training in San Francisco with KEANU REEVES for Matrix 2, while her husband is continuing with the fitness regimen he developed while training for the recently-completed Ali. They are about to separate for several months as Jada goes to Australia to film the next two Matrix pictures while Will remain in New York, filming Men in Black with TOMMY LEE JONES.

HALEY JOEL OSMENT is getting fed up with portraying sympathetic characters in family dramas. ``I'd like to do an action movie - or maybe play a villain. I've never done that,'' he tells Daily Variety. The 13-year-old star of A.I. Artificial Intelligence recently returned from Poland where he was shooting his next film, Edges of the Lord, in which he plays a Jewish child hidden with a Catholic family during the Nazi occupation. ``I heard similar stories while I was in Poland and it was very interesting taking part in a movie which is part of history,'' he said.

Sales of J.R.R Tolkien's classic The Lord of the Rings are soaring, due to advance marketing of the much-anticipated movie which is due out in December. More than 1.7 million copies of Tolkien's books have been sold in the U.S. in the past year - more than triple the total in the previous two years. ``I've never seen anything like it, six months before a movie,'' says Kuo-Yu Liang, associate publisher of Del Rey/ Ballantine, who also handled book tie-ins for Star Wars and Jurassic Park. ``By October, who knows how big it will be?'' The film stars IAN HOLM as Bilbo Baggins and IAN MCKELLEN as the wizard Gandalf.

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