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Weekly's Gone By:WEEK-42-01
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week 25-01
ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...

WILL SMITH may have just finished filming Ali but his new project, Men in Black II, has shut down because of the illness of director BARRY SONNENFELD. The 48-year-old director has had a series of hospital tests but a Columbia Pictures spokesman would only say production had been halted because the film-maker ``wasn't feeling well''. Smith's Men in Black II co-star, TOMMY LEE JONES, had his film The Hunted shut down for five months after his co-star BENICIO DEL TORO broke his wrist during a fight scene. Production has been shut down for five months on the thriller The Hunted to allow one of its main stars DEL TORO, to recover from the broken wrist. Oscar-winner Del Toro had only five days of filming left when he injured his wrist in a fight scene with TOMMY LEE JONES while both were reaching for a knife. He was taken to hospital for surgery. ``It was a freak accident,'' said Paramount Pictures chief SHERRY LANSING, whose husband, WILLIAM FRIEDKIN, is directing the film. The Hunted was due for release in spring next year but now it has been pushed back until next autumn.

Author CLIVE CUSSLER has refused to sell any of his books to Hollywood for more than 20 years. But now he has signed a deal, turning over the rights to all 14 of his novels featuring intelligence agent Dirk Pitt. The deal, signed with Crusader Entertainment, will make him one of the world's wealthiest authors as he will receive 7 million for each book. He will also have script and casting approval. Cussler steered clear of Hollywood since the release of the 1980 adaptation of his novel Raise the Titanic, which he called ``awful from beginning to end''. He turned down approaches from stars such as SYLVESTER STALLONE, BRUCE WILLIS and GEORGE CLOONEY, who wanted to buy the rights to his books, because no studio would grant him any control over the process. ``They've dealt with weirdo authors before and weren't too keen to give out casting and script approval,'' he said. The first of his books to go before the cameras will be Sahara. No cast or director has yet been announced.

HALEY JOEL OSMENT is not old enough to see himself starring in STEVEN SPIELBERG's sci-fi adventure AI, in which he plays a mechanical boy. The film will have a 15 certificate when it opens in Britain in September, meaning that 13-year-old Haley and children of his age will be barred from seeing it. But the film's producer, KATHLEEN KENNEDY, tells Daily Variety: ``It truly is the most amazing performance I've seen by any actor, young or older. ``The older Haley gets, he may very well turn to directing - the way he thinks and observes.''

MTV has banned EMINEM's new video Purple Pills, the first single from the controversial rapper's new album, Devil's Night. A source close to Eminem says MTV objected to the song's apparent pro-drug message and wanted it cleaned up. Changes were made, but not enough to satisfy the music video channel.

NICOLAS CAGE is negotiating to take the superhero title role in Ghost Rider, which is based on the Marvel comic book character. He would play Johnny Blaze, a motorcycle stuntman who sells his soul to a dark force to save the life of his girlfriend. But when the pact goes awry he becomes a demon-like entity who takes out his wrath on bad people. It is the latest of several Marvel comics heading for the screen. An X-Men sequel is being developed, director SAM RAIMI has just finished Spider-Man and ANG LEE is set to helm the superhero saga The Incredible Hulk.

FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA is to produce a film based on JACK KEROUAC's classic tale of the Beat Generation, On the Road. JOEL SCHUMACHER will direct while BILLY CRUDUP is likely to play Kerouac and BRAD PITT is in line for the role of his friend Dean Moriarty.

CATHERINE ZETA-JONES was called back from Marbella and JULIA ROBERTS was flown in from New York to join JOHN CUSACK and BILLY CRYSTAL in Los Angeles to shoot a new ending to their comedy America's Sweethearts. Test audiences wanted a comedy rather than a romantic ending so one was written and shot over a weekend, according to Daily Variety. The new version, it reports, tested positively with audiences and is due to open on July 20.

British actor CLIVE OWEN is making his mark in the US through a series of advertising campaigns on the internet for BMW cars. Owen stars in the six-minute digital films which are each helmed by big-name directors including ANG LEE, GUY RITCHIE and JOHN FRANKENHEIMER. ``Shooting them was like going to film school,'' Owen tells Movieline magazine. ``All of the directors were hugely talented but completely different, so I learned a great deal.''

MICHAEL J FOX says his forthcoming autobiography, Lucky Man, will be published in January. The actor, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, says the book is about why the disease ``is not a struggle and why I feel that way''. He tells syndicated columnist MARILYN BECK: ``In many ways the illness has been a blessing to me. It got me out of my own showbiz garbage and re ally made me realise there are bigger things in life.'' Fox, whose wife TRACY POLLAN is expecting their fourth child, provides the voice of the lead character Milo in Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

ADAM SANDLER will play multiple roles in The Five Johnsons, a comedy he is likely to start filming later this year. The comic actor, whose last film, Little Nicky, was a surprising flop, must first finish the PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON film The Denise Show, in which he plays the owner of a failing phone-sex business. He then moves on to Deeds, the modern-day retelling of the 1936 GARY COOPER comedy Mr Deeds Goes to Town.

A month spent filming the comedy Evolution in the tiny desert town of Paige, Arizona left comic actor ORLANDO JONES hankering for a change of scenery. ``You say the word Four Seasons in Paige and people believe you're talking about the weather. Ask for a bagel and they tell you it's not a pet shop,'' says Jones, who stars in the movie with DAVID DUCHOVNY and JULIANNE MOORE. Jones may soon find himself in London for his next project - in the starring role of a jewel thief hired by the Queen of Swaziland to steal the illustrious Star of Africa diamond from England.

EWAN McGREGOR is going home to Scotland after completing work on the mega blockbusters Star Wars: Episode 2 and Black Hawk Down. The second instalment in the prequel trilogy is now in post-production and will see McGregor battling the forces of evil across the universe as Obi Wan Kenobi. Meanwhile, RIDLEY SCOTT's war movie will see the Scottish actor don fatigues as part of a band of elite US soldiers battling a Somalian warlord. Back home he will work on Young Adam, which has a more modest budget of 4 million, playing a young drifter who works on a barge travelling between Glasgow and Edinburgh and discovers a floating female corpse in t he river.

TILDA SWINTON, who appeared with LEONARDO DiCAPRIO in The Beach, will co-star with him in the project, which is party financed by Scotland's government-backed film-funding agency Scottish Screen. ALFRED MOLINA and SALMA HAYEK joke that co-starring in Frida will be the death of them. ``Alfred had to gain so much weight that he thinks he will have a heart attack and I think I will get lung cancer because I have to smoke,'' says the Mexican actress. Hayek is also producing the project which centres on the passionate Mexican painter FRIDA KAHLO.Molina, last seen on screen in Chocolat, plays DIEGO RIVERA, the muralist Kahlo married twice, while ANTONIO BANDERAS is his muralist friend, DAVID SIQUIEROS.

GEOFFREY RUSH portrays the exiled Russian revolutionary LEON TROTSKY, with whom Kahlo had an affair. Although she has grown a moustache and big eyebrows for the role, Hayek tells USA Today that Kahlo was very sexy ``or she would not have seduced so many men and women around the world with such success''.

JACK NICHOLSON, who has just spent 12 weeks in Omaha filming the comedy About Schmidt, is planning a holiday which will include a trip to Wimbledon. He leaves for Mo scow this weekend to promote The Pledge with its director SEAN PENN, and will then move on to Paris to see his old friend ROMAN POLANSKI before taking his courtside seat at Wimbledon. When he returns to America he will consider his next project, which is likely to be playing a country sheriff opposite WILL SMITH in The County.

JOAN COLLINS and ROD STEWART's ex-wife RACHEL HUNTER co-star with a talking koala bear in the low-budget film Ozzie, which they have just finished shooting in New Zealand. SPENCER BRESLIN, most recently seen opposite BRUCE WILLIS in The Kid, plays a 10-year-old Los Angeles boy who finds the koala after it escapes from captivity.

SPIKE LEE is likely to be the man to bring the hit musical Rent to the big screen. Lee, whose last film was the showbusiness satire Bamboozled, is talking to Miramax Films about the project, although no screenwriter or cast have yet been hired. The rapper DMX is to star in an updated remake of the classic 1931 German crime thriller M. The original film starred PETER LORRE as a child murderer stalking Berlin. In the new version DMX will play a crime boss who helps the police catch the murderer. Sources say VIN DIESEL is being sought to co-star.

DIANE KEATON, whose ex-boyfriends include her former co-stars WOODY ALLEN, WARREN BEATTY and AL PACINO, says she is finished with romance. ``I don't really think about it very much anymore. It's probably out of the picture, you know?'' she says in the current issue of More magazine. ``I remember when I was younger I honestly believed in some ridiculous way that you didn't really lose people - that you would find someone who would be the person you lived with until you died. ``Now, I understand that these are episodes we go through with people, and they don't all last.'' Keaton, 55, says she remains close to Allen, who wrote Annie Hall for her, and is ``friendly'' with Beatty, but she no longer speaks to Pacino. She dated Pacino during the 1970s while filming The Godfather and Godfather II and then again in 1989 during the making of Godfather III. Her biggest regrets, she said, involve holding on to the past. ``Those relationships were almost impossible for me to let go of,'' says the single mother of adopted children, five-year-old Dexter and six-month-old Duke. ``Now that I'm older, time is valuable. You just think, gee, it would have been nice if we had parted a little earlier. ``There are so many things to do, so why are you quietly hanging on to something that's over?''

JULIANNE MOORE will be directed by her boyfriend, BART FREUNDLICH, in her next film Raveling, which he is adapting for the screen. In it she will play a psychologist who unravels the mystery surrounding two brothers and the murder of their sister. Moore, who is starring in the comedy Evolution, previously worked with Freundlich, who is the father of her child, on The Myth of Fingerprints.

The British film-maker DANNY BOYLE and author ALEX GARLAND are teaming up again for the sci-fi thriller 28 Days Later, which was written by Garland. Bo yle, whose most recent film was based on Garland's novel The Beach, hopes to start shooting in London in August. 28 Days Later, about a deadly virus that sweeps the planet, will be co-financed by Britain's Film Council and Fox Searchlight.

Oscar-winner MIRA SORVINO has persuaded some of her friends, including SPIKE LEE and SANDRA BULLOCK, to take cameo roles in Lisa Picard Is Famous, her first attempt at producing. She met the writers and two stars, LAURA KIRK and NAT DE WOLF, in acting classes 10 years ago and decided she wanted to work with them. Her friend GRIFF DUNNE is directing the project, about an actress's attempted rise to fame. ``We started doing readings and revisions in my living room,'' said Sorvino, who also cast the movie, rewrote parts of the script and even filmed some scenes herself. ``We got incredible feedback. It's rare to get the overwhelming response we received.''

Kiss leader GENE SIMMONS has unveiled what he considers to be the ultimate piece of music memorabilia for the band's fans - a lifesize, fully functional Kiss Forever coffin. Selling for around 2,500, the coffin bears the band's logo, a panoramic graphic of the crowd at a Kiss show and the faces of the four founder members in full make-up. Until it is ready for it final use, Simmons suggests the coffin can be used as a beer cooler. ``We figured, why not use it while you're alive?'' he says. ``For a guy who's at home watching the game in his living room, he could just reach over a grab a cold beer.''

Sex and the City co-star CYNTHIA NIXON is heading to Broadway to join JENNIFER TILLY and KRISTEN JOHNSTON in the play The Women. The trio will take the roles immortalised by NORMAN SHEARER, JOAN CRAWFORD and ROSALIND RUSSELL in GEORGE CUKOR's 1939 film based on the CLARE BOOTHE play. The story was remade in 1956 as a film called The Opposite Sex which starred JUNE ALLYSON, JOAN COLLINS and DOLORES GRAY. The play was last revived on Broadway in 1973 with KIM HUNTER, MARIE WALLACE and ALEXIS SMITH in the lead roles. In the new production Nixon, who plays Miranda in Sex and the City, will play Mary Haines, who is humiliated by Johnston's Sylvia Fowler when it is revealed that Mr Haines is having an affair with Tilly's Crystal Allen.

Controversy still surrounds the death of a four-year-old boy who was floating face down in the swimming pool of hellraiser rocker TOMMY LEE JONES. Jones, the ex-husband of Baywatch beauty PAMELA ANDERSON, is said to be devastated by the death of Daniel Karven Veres, son of TV producer JAMES VERES. The death occurred at a joint birthday party in California held for Jones and Anderson's eldest son Brandon. An autopsy in California found the death to be accidental. Daniel's grieving father said in a statement: ``Obviously there wasn't enough help at the pool. It's inexcusable and just amazing to me.''

After five years in existence THE SPICE GIRLS' fan club has closed for business. The organisation sent out its final message to fans recently after the singers decided to close the fan club earlier this year. However a spokesman has denied that this is a connected to a split of the band. The girls are all currently pursuing solo careers but all of them are saying that the band is still very much together. The reason for the closure of the fan club has been given as the growing use of the Internet as a source for information.

ANTHONY HOPKINS has been in talks with Universal Pictures to take on the role of Hannibal Lecter for a third time. The Welsh actor reprised his Oscar-winning role in the Silence Of The Lambs sequel Hannibal earlier this year. The film company hopes work on Red Dragon, based on Thomas Harris's first Lecter novel, will begin at the end of the year.

Rock legend ERIC CLAPTON is celebrating after the birth of a baby daughter. The 57-year-old guitarist's girlfriend Melia McEnery gave birth to 7lbs 1oz Julie Rose in the early hours of Thursday morning in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, it was reported. The birth comes 10 years after the death of his four-year-old son Conor who fell from the 53rd floor of a New York skyscraper. The tragedy inspired his classic hit, Tears In Heaven. Clapton, who also has a teenage daughter, has said his current world tour would be his last so that he could spend more time with his family.

British actor JONNY LEE MILLER has revealed how he used to make ends meet prior to becoming famous in films such as Trainspotting and his latest film Dracula 2001. When he was a struggling actor he used to work at London's Hard Rock Cafe where he admits he had fun winding up the diners. He says: ``They'd ask for a black t-shirt and we'd reply: `What kind of black would you like? Midnight black, dark black, rock back or granite back?' ``Then they'd ask to see them, so we'd bring our four t-shirts that were exactly the same,'' he says in an interview with FHM magazine. ``Sometimes they took ages - it was a big deal for them.''

ROBBIE WILLIAMS is rumoured to be planning to release an album of big band cover versions, if reports are to be believed. He intends recording some FRANK SINATRA songs for the album, which could be out late this year or early next year. Robbie has already recorded the Sinatra track Have You Met Miss Jones? for the Bridget Jones's Diary soundtrack. A source at Williams's record label EMI said: ``Robbie won't be releasing the follow-up to Sing When You're Winning until 2003, but in the meantime he's going to record an album of big band songs, people like Frank Sinatra.''

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