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Weekly's Gone By:WEEK-42-01
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week 28-01
ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...

The British director ADRIAN LYNE, who directed the steamy love scenes between MICKEY ROURKE and KIM BASINGER in 1986's Nine and a Half Weeks, has reportedly surpassed himself in his new film. Scenes between RICHARD GERE and DIANE LANE in the upcoming thriller Unfaithful reportedly match those of Nine and a Half Weeks. These would return 51-year-old Gere to the sex symbol status he attained 21 years ago when he played a male escort in American Gigolo.

MEL GIBSON is starring for The Sixth Sense director M NIGHT SHYAMALAN in Signs, which will be filmed at an agricultural school in Pennsylvania at the end of the summer. Gibson will play a farmer who finds mysterious crop circles and other patterns on his land. Filming is expected to last until the end of the year on the school's 100 acres of cornfields. ``Our biggest concern is that when they leave, they leave the fields the way they found them,'' said college president DR THOMAS LEARNER. ``That's part of the agreement.''

Miramax boss HARVEY WEINSTEIN reportedly wants TOM CRUISE to star in ANTHONY MINGHELLA's film of the best-selling novel Cold Mountain. If he accepts, Cruise would play Inman, a wounded Confederate soldier who deserts and tries to go home to the woman he loves. His journey takes him through the Blue Ridge Mountains and many adventures. Minghella, who wrote the screenplay of The English Patient and The Talented Mr Ripley, has penned the script from the book by CHARLES FRAZIER. He will also direct and co-produce the project.

The son of actor BOB CRANE, who starred in the long-running TV series Hogan's Heroes, is fuming over a film that would feature GREG KINNEAR as his pornography-loving father. He describes the film biography, Auto-Focus, which is to be helmed by writer of Taxi Driver PAUL SCHRADER, as sensationalist and based on ``rumour and innuend o''. Schrader has just cast WILLEM DAFOE as JOHN CARPENTER, Crane's accomplice in a series of sexual escapades with women. Carpenter was later acquitted of murdering Crane, who was found bludgeoned to death with a camera tripod in a motel room. Schrader, who also wrote Raging Bull, defends Auto-Focus, saying: ``Greg Kinnear is not unlike Bob. They were both funny guys who worked in talk radio and TV.''

MERYL STREEP and her oldest son, 21-year-old HENRY GUMMER, will appear in a free production of ANTON CHEKHOV's play The Seagull, which will run in New York's Central Park from July 24 to August 19. Streep stars as Arkadina, while Gummer, a student, portrays Yakov, a worker on the estate owned by Sorin, played by CHRISTOPHER WALKEN. While he intends to press ahead with his planned film biography of Liberace, with ROBIN WILLIAMS playing the flamboyant pianist, film-maker PHILIP KAUFMAN is also negotiating to direct a remake of Suspicion. The 1941 Alfred Hitchcock suspense thriller starred CARY GRANT and JOAN FONTAINE in the story of a reserved young woman who marries a man after a whirlwind romance but then suspects he is trying to kill her for her money. Kaufman, whose most recent film was Quills, plans to update the story.

CATHERINE ZETA-JONES has emerged as the favourite for one of the two starring roles in the film adaptation of the hit musical Chicago. The Welsh actress is in negotiations with Miramax and the director, ROB MARSHALL, to play the role of the vaudeville entertainer Velma. Marshall is also auditioning actresses for the role of Roxie. The two main characters are both murderers who become famous as the media make them into stars in Chicago during the Roaring 20s. HUGH JACKMAN, who starred in the London stage revival of Oklahoma!, has been mentioned for the role of the sleazy lawyer Billy Flynn, while KATHY BATES may play the prison matron, Mama Morton. The role of Velma would be a high-profile one for Zeta-Jones, who began her career as a singer and dancer in London's West End. Others who have been mentioned as possible Chicago stars over the past five years include GOLDIE HAWN, MADONNA, CHARLIZE THERON and ROSIE O'DONNELL.

ROBERT DE NIRO is the surprise choice to take the role originally intended for JIM CARREY in the comedy Scared Guys. The Oscar-winning actor will play an agoraphobic therapist forced to leave home for the first time in six years to thwart the planned murder of a woman whom he has fallen in love with from afar. JIM CARREY was set to star in the film but instead chose to play a black-listed writer in the FRANK DARABONT-directed The Majestic.

The Oscar-winning film director JOHN FRANKENHEIMER is in London for talks with the British actor SIR MICHAEL GAMBON over a presidential role. He wants Sir Michael to play former US President LYNDON B JOHNSON in his film Path to War, the story of how the Johnson administration could not extricate itself from the Vietnam War.

MIKE MYERS, EDDIE MURPHY and CAMERON DIAZ are set to earn 3 million each for voicing the main characters in the Shrek sequel now in de velopment. The three actors received little money upfront for the first film but made a little over 2 million each based on their share of the gross profits. Shrek is expected to become one of the most profitable animated films in history, its profits boosted by sales of toys, action figures and marketing tie-ins.

GWYNETH PALTROW is still impressing the cast and crew with her looks, despite playing a vastly overweight woman in the comedy Shallow Hal. ``All I could think was, `Wow! She's got on a 300lb fat suit and she's still stunning','' says DARIUS RUCKER, lead singer of the band Hootie and the Blowfish, who plays a maitre d' in a scene with the portly Paltrow. Rucker landed the role because he is friends with Peter and BOBBY FARRELLY, the writers, directors and producers of Shallow Hal.

Stuart Little gets a girlfriend in Stuart Little 2, the sequel to last year's hit film about the mouse adopted by a New York couple. She will be a computer-generated bird named Margalo with a voice provided by MELANIE GRIFFITH. ``She's been there, done that,'' says producer DOUG WICK. ``She's a little bit of a flapper.'' Stuart's voice will be provided by MICHAEL J FOX while his parents will again be played by HUGH LAURIE and GEENA DAVIS.

PENELOPE CRUZ, who co-starred with TOM CRUISE in his latest film, Vanilla Sky, was one of the 200 guests at his 39th birthday party in a Santa Monica nightclub. They set tongues wagging by arriving about 15 minutes apart and leaving at about the same time. ``They danced together and talked into each other's ears a lot,'' according to one gossip. ``There was something there. You could feel it.'' But there was tension in the air between JIM CARREY and his ex-girlfriend, RENEE ZELLWEGER, who co-starred with Cruise in Jerry Maguire. When she arrived, said a source, Carrey left.

The script has been written for a big-budget feature film based on the adventures of the 1950s British comic book hero Dan Dare. British producer COLIN FREWIN, who holds the rights to the Dan Dare character, is reportedly teaming up with Columbia TriStar to bring the comic strip to the big screen. The television arm of Columbia TriStar has already picked up worldwide rights to the Frewin-produced 26-part animated TV series, Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, according to Daily Variety. The series features ROBBIE COLTRANE, TIM CURRY and CHARLES DANCE, with the theme tune co-written and performed by ELTON JOHN.

'N Sync star JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE may be making his film debut in SPIKE LEE's upcoming project, a film version of the Broadway hit musical Rent. Timberlake has auditioned for the role of film-maker Mark, while he and his girlfriend BRITNEY SPEARS were spotted in the audience of the long-running show last week. During the intermission the couple went backstage to meet the cast, according to the New York Daily News.

MICHAEL JACKSON was shocked to be on the receiving end of Madonna's attentions during a dinner date 10 years ago, according to a new book. Madonna grabbed Jackson's hand and put it on her breast, reports J RANDY TARAB ORRELLI in his book Madonna: An Intimate Biography, due out next month. ``The next thing I know, she reaches over and takes my glasses off,'' Jackson reportedly told Taraborrelli. ``Then she throws them across the room and breaks them. I was shocked.''

BILLY BOB THORNTON is denying rumours that his record company is unhappy with his debut album, Private Radio. ``They're over the moon,'' he tells Us Weekly, adding that he will embark on a concert tour after the album's mid-September release. The first single off the album, Angelina, is named for his wife, ANGELINA JOLIE, and begins: ``I walked into an elevator and you walked into a wall.''

The British actor JASON ISAACS, best-known for his role as the sadistic British army officer in The Patriot, has not been home for six months. In a non-stop schedule he has moved from filming MIKE FIGGIS's Hotel in Venice to RIDLEY SCOTT's war saga Black Hawk Down in Morocco and then to Massachusetts for the romantic comedy Passionado with SOFIA MILOS. ``I was ripped out of Morocco where I was murdering everybody around me, surrounded by corpses and carnage, and now I'm trying to be romantic and funny,'' he says. ``It's a real old-fashioned romance, just me and the lovely Sofia. I don't normally get the woman - I normally kill the woman.''

JULIA ROBERTS is to miss the upcoming Deauville Film Festival even though her latest film, America's Sweethearts, will be a featured attraction there. The actress is reportedly anxious to avoid the hundreds of journalists who will want to question her about the end of her romance with BENJAMIN BRATT. ``She can handle the US premieres okay because she has all her studio minders and her own staff to protect her,'' a source tells the New York Post. ``But in tiny, seaside Deauville, with maybe 300 international journalists on her case, there'll be nowhere to hide.'' Her America's Sweethearts co-star CATHERINE ZETA-JONES is certain to be there if only for sentimental reasons. Deauville was where she met her future husband MICHAEL DOUGLAS three years ago.

STING's wife, TRUDIE STYLER, who produced GUY RITCHIE's two films, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, has no plans to work again with the director. ``He's on to huge films,'' she tells syndicated columnist MARILYN BECK, ``and I have a love for independent films because you can retain a lot of control.'' Styler is in America preparing for the July 18 US premiere of her production Greenfingers, the prison comedy film which stars CLIVE OWEN and HELEN MIRREN. She will be seen on the big screen herself later this year in Me Without You, a drama in which she plays the mother of ANNA FRIEL's character.

Residents of the little town of New Milford, Connecticut, are furious at the disruption caused by ADAM SANDLER and the 100-strong cast and crew of his new film Deeds. Streets were closed, small businesses were asked to change their signs and traffic jammed the streets during the three weeks Hollywood took over the town. ``They came in and did just about anything they wanted to do,'' complained JIM KICK to the New York Daily News. Kick, who owns N ew Milford Insurance, added: ``They shut the street down, there was nowhere to park and I lost business.'' Deeds, a remake of the 1936 GARY COOPER classic Mr Deeds Comes To Town, stars Sandler as Longfellow Deeds, a poet who unexpectedly inherits 40 billion dollars. WINONA RYDER plays a TV reporter covering the story, while JARED HARRIS and PETER GALLAGHER also star.

MARLON BRANDO lives the life of a semi-recluse, rarely seeing anyone except JOHNNY DEPP, with whom he shares Chinese takeaway meals. This is the reality according to writer PATRICIA BOSWORTH, whose biography of Brando will be published in September. She says 76-year-old Brando recently told a close friend: ``I'm going to live to be 100, then I plan to clone myself with all of my talent but none of my neuroses.'' And after seeing himself in the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire a short while ago, he commented: ``Oh, God. I was beautiful then. But I'm much nicer now.''

WESLEY SNIPES worked with former world heavyweight champion LENNOX LEWIS's trainer EMMANUEL STEWARD to prepare himself for his role as a jailhouse boxing champion in his new film Undisputed. In the film his character fights the undisputed world champion, played by VING RHAMES. Rhames has been working on his physique and boxing skills for two years, preparing to play SONNY LISTON in Night Train for TOM CRUISE's production company.

DENNIS HOPPER is making his first foray into series television by starring in Flatland, a 22-episode Matrix-style action drama to be filmed in Shanghai. Set in the year 2010, the series follows three Americans who find themselves trapped in the mysterious web of a man known only as Mr Smith - played by Hopper. In Smith's world the past and present co-exist and intersect with deadly consequences. ``Dennis Hopper was the only person we ever thought about for the role,'' said creator-prod ucer AL RUDDY. ``He has proven over the years to be an outstanding and talented actor and there's a certain mystique to Dennis which is perfect for our show.''

British animator NICK PARK has shut down production on The Tortoise and the Hare for six months, with only a few minutes of film in the can. His decision has the full support of DreamWorks Pictures executives, including STEVEN SPIELBERG and JEFFREY KATZENBERG, according to Aardman Animations spokesman ARTHUR SHERIFF. Park's Bristol-based Aardman company began shooting the film earlier this year for DreamWorks, but decided to suspend it to rectify script problems. Sheriff told Daily Variety that DreamWorks did exactly the same thing with its hit animated film Shrek. ``This is entirely an Aardman decision but one with which Jeffrey Katzenberg in America is in agreement,'' he said. ``It's about quality control.'' Aardman, which created Chicken Run for DreamWorks, began shooting The Tortoise and the Hare using its distinctive clay animation style. But Sheriff said: ``The script was just not happening and the characters have got to be fleshed out.''

KELSEY GRAMMER hopes for a fiery reunion with Oscar-winner Emma Thompson if he can persuade her to guest star on his hit television series Frasier. The British actress played Frasier's first wife on a few episodes of Cheers nearly 20 years ago. ``They had a passionate, crazy love,'' says Grammer. ``But after a year they realised they had married far too young, decided to divorce and Emma left for England. ``Now we would like to see them reunited on Frasier with all the same sparks still flying.'' But Thompson may be hard to persuade - she recently announced she was taking a year off work to travel in Africa.

LEONARDO DiCAPRIO is hobbling on crutches following an injury while playing basketball in Los Angeles. The actor plays in a regular game with other celebrities, including his best pal TOBEY MAGUIRE, who has just finished filming Spider-Man. His spokesman, KEN SUNSHINE, said: ``We don't yet know how long he'll be on crutches,'' adding that the injury was a bad sprain.

HUGH HEFNER has bought a house near his Los Angeles Playboy Mansion for 3.5 million although he does not know what he will do with it. ``He had been watching it for a while and there was a point when he thought it was a good investment,'' said Hefner's spokesman DICK ROSENZWEIG. The five-bedroom house has an eight-car garage and room for additional parking but Rosenzweig said Hefner was not planning to turn the property into a car park for the Playboy Mansion. Night-time parties there, sometimes for more than 1,000 guests, have prompted complaints from neighbours about cars jamming the street. ``He is not using his new property for parking, but he hasn't yet decided exactly how he will use it,'' Rosenzweig told the Los Angeles Times.

The British singer DIDO has been househunting during rehearsals for her first American tour. She and her fiance, lawyer BOB PAGE, have already bought rings for their wedding which has been set for next year, she tells US Magazine. ``It's all lovely and happy but I can't even think about the wedding until the tour is finished,'' she says. ``Then I'm going to record my second album at the end of the year so basically I'll be writing songs and planning wedding cakes.''

Weakest Link host ANNE ROBINSON will soon have the chance to insult her fellow stars on America's NBC television network. Network executives are planning a series of Weakest Link shows featuring contestants from the casts of such series as Law and Order, Providence and Third Watch.

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