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week 09-01
ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...

RIDLEY SCOTT is to add as much as an hour of unused footage to his hit film Hannibal when it is seen on television. The British director is resuscitating the first version he filmed which runs for more than three hours, according to Daily Variety. The CBS network has spent 14 million on the rights to show Hannibal three times on US television, beginning in November 2003.

The controversial rapper EMINEM may make his film debut playing the villain in Lazarus, the fourth instalment of The Crow series. He has been offered nearly $3 million to take the role opposite fellow rap artist DMX, who will play the hero, reports Daily Variety. In Lazarus two young men die and are brought back from the dead. One is good and the other evil and they battle for dominance in the hip-hop world. Eminem, who won three Grammy awards last week, is also set to star in an autobiographical film currently being written for him. The film, to be made by Grinch producer Brian Grazer, will cover the young white rapper's struggle to make a name for himself.

A black law professor at Yale University has set a record for a first time novelist by landing a $3 million deal for two books. STEPHEN L CARTER, who has previously written several serious non-fiction books, landed the deal with Knopf after editors read the manuscript for his first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park. The book, a legal thriller, revolves around an African-American judge andhis family. ``There aren't many African-American suspense writers and there aren't a lot of books published about the world of the black elite,'' said an editor at a publishing house which dropped out of the bidding.

EDDIE MURPHY and OWEN WILSON are to play the two government agents in the feature film version of the 60s television series I Spy. The series, which ran from 1965-1968, starred BILL COSBY and ROBERT CULP and the tennis-playing secret agents. In the new version Murphy will play a professional athlete who is pressed into helping Wilson recover a missing jet. MICHAEL MYERS is to earn nearly $20 million for writing and starring in Austin Powers 3. The storyline is being kept a closely-guarded secret although sources say it will once again involve time travel. Several guest stars are expected to be hired for cameo roles in the comedy, which is expected to begin filming at the end of this year.

Erin Brockovich, the legal assistant portrayed on screen by JULIA ROBERTS in the Oscar-nominated film, is carving out a showbusiness career for herself. She is appearing on stage in Toronto in The Vagina Monologues, and is looking into several offers, including one to host a television show. ``But,'' she says, ``I won't do anything if it's not significant. I'm not doing them to `be Hollywood'.''

DAVID BOWIE'S ex-wife ANGIE is one of the stars of Deadrockstar, a dark satire on the record industry that is due to go into production soon in Los Angeles. STEPHEN BALDWIN and STEVE BUSCEMI also star in the story of a record company so greedy that it sets out to kill its rock stars in order to give them legend status and boost their record sales.

STEVEN SPIELBERG has made a cameo appearance in CAMERON CROWE'S new film Vanilla Sky after visiting its star, TOM CRUISE, on the set. The Oscar winning director has been meeting with Cruise to discuss Minority Report, the Spielberg film in which Cruise will star as soon as he finishes work on Vanilla Sky. Crowe reportedly spotted Spielberg and shouted to him ``How about being an extra in my movie?'' Spielberg answered: ``Sure. If you appear in my next movie.'' Crowe agreed and Spielberg is one of the patrons in a restaurant scene between Cruise and PENELOPE CRUZ.

MARK WAHLBERG, who made love to a bevy of beautiful women in Boogie Nights, has some love scenes with a primate in Planet of the Apes ``It's actually a very pleasant experience because it's HELENA BONHAM CARTER in the ape costume under all that makeup,'' he tells USA Today. ``The makeup artist has just made her so cute so kissing her is very easy.''

The horror director WES CRAVEN is turning to classic British novels for his next two projects. He will first direct a new version of the Robert Louis Stevenson tale Dr.Jekyll and Mr Hyde and will then move on to Alice, a Gothic horror version of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Craven's most recent film was Dracula 2000, loosely based on the story by Bram Stoker.

JUDI DENCH is lining up a heavy work schedule following the death of her husband. The actress, who is Oscar-nominated for Chocolat, is soon to start work on The Shipping News in Nova Scotia with KEVIN SPACEY and RHYS IFANS. She will take a brief break to attend the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles and when filming finishes she will return to England to star in Iris, about Alzheimer-afflicted novelist the late IRIS MURDOCH. She is also to co-star in the film version of Oscar Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest, playing the haughty Lady Bracknell.

Director RENNY HARLIN says the fact that 30 million television viewers watched the fatal NASCAR race in which Dale Earnhardt crashed and died proves there is an audience for his upcoming film Driven. The film stars SYLVESTER STALLONE as a champion race car driver and Harlin says there are no fatal crashes in it, although there are serious accidents. ``Driven is respectful to the sport,'' he tells Daily Variety. ``We don't try and exploit it.'' Test screenings, he said, have gone very well, adding: ``I was surprised women rated it even higher than men.''

Movie king ROGER CORMAN is capitalising on the success of Gladiator by remaking his own, 1970 sword-and-sandals drama The Arena. Like the original, it will feature female gladiators and he has renamed it Gladiatrix. The two stars will be 1998 Playboy Playmate of the Year KAREN MCDOUGAL and Playmate runner-up LISA DERGAN.

British director CHRISTOPHER NOLAN, whose first full-length feature film Memento is due to be released in the US next week, has already landed his next assignment - a big budget thriller with major stars. He is to direct Oscar winners AL PACINO and HILARY SWANK in the $35 million thriller Insomnia which begins production in Vancouver in April. Pacino will play a police detective who accidentally kills his partner during a murder investigation in a small Alaskan town and is then blackmailed by the killer into framing an innocent person.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER has bought up a neighbour's home to add to the compound he and his wife MARIA SHRIVER own in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles. The former bodybuilder paid $2 million for the five-bedroom house on 1.5 acres. It is the third time in eight years that the Schwarzeneggers have bought a neighbouring property to add to their estate. The other two properties were owned by former Dynasty actor JOHN FORSYTHE and Hill Street Blues star DANIEL J. TRAVANTI.

RALPH FIENNES will divide the summer between London and Canada, filming the psychological thriller Spider with Canadian director DAVID CRONENBERG. The British actor, whose most recent film was Sunshine, will begin work as soon as he finishes filming another thriller, Fear Itself, in Washington DC. ``Everyone involved with Spider has that special tingle, that passion,'' Cronenberg tells Daily Variety. ``We are sure it is going to be a classic psychological thriller and we can't wait to get started.''

The British filmmaker BEN HOPKINS is hoping his film Simon Magus does better in America than it did when it was released in England last year. ``There's a flexibility built into the American market that we don't really have in Britain,'' he tells the Los Angeles Times. ``When your film is released with one print in one cinema in your country, you feel a bit frustrated.'' Hopkins filmed Simon Magus, about pre-Holocaust Eastern European Jews, two years ago with Welsh farmland standing in for a turn-of-the-century Polish village. It is due to be released in the US next month, after being screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Hopkins has just finished another film, The Nine Lives of Thomas Katz, which has been turned down by film distributors in England. ``Sometimes there seems to me to be a lack of energy on the distribution side of the industry to try and get more interesting products to the public, probably because they don't have to,'' he said. ``There's enough films out there and enough people are making money out of those movies.''

Warner Bros has apologised for sending out warning letters to young Harry Potter fans who have created websites. ``Our intention was never to harass fans,'' said studio spokeswoman Diane Nelson, who added that the studio has stopped sending the letters. The apology comes following reports that angry fans were organising a worldwide boycott of merchandise featuring the boy wizard. The letters say Warner Bros wants Potter-related websites shut down because ``they are likely to cause consumer confusion or dilution of the intellectual property rights''. ``The tone of the letters did not take into account that Harry Potter isunique and many of the recipients were innocent young fans,'' said Nelson. N

ow that OLIVER STONE'S big-budget epic love story Beyond Borders hasbeen postponed, RALPH FIENNES, who was due to star in it with ANGELINA JOLIE, has taken another offer. The British Oscar winner will play a paranoid schizophrenic who uncovers a White House conspiracy but cannot get anyone to believe him in the psychological thriller Fear Itself. It will be produced by Wolfgang Peterson, who is currently interviewing directors.

EWAN MCGREGOR and NICOLE KIDMAN sing a duet on the soundtrack of the upcoming film Moulin Rouge in which they star together. Their song is the film's love theme, titled Come What May. They sing throughout the film which writer-director Baz Luhrmann describes as ``a comic-tragic musical fantasy''. Other artists featured on the soundtrack include OZZY OSBOURNE, BECK, FATBOY SLIM and CHRISTINA AGUILERA.

The US distributor of the British film Intimacy has asked the director Patrice Cereau to tone down some of the sex scenes before it is shown to US audiences. ``It is common knowledge that audiences in America are slightly more sensitive as opposed to, say, audiences in Sweden about sex,'' said distributor Philippe Angers. Co-writer HANIF KUREISHI says Intimacy which won the top prize at the Berlin Festival, is about an adulterous British couple and ``what can really go on between two middle-aged lovers''.

Fellow best actor Oscar nominees RUSSELL CROWE and ED HARRIS will have to leave the post-Oscar parties early as they are due to begin working together the next day, March 26, on A Beautiful Mind. Crowe, nominated for Gladiator, and Harris, for Pollock, star together in the story of Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. MARK ADDY, who hates to leave his Yorkshire village, is travelling again, this time through time. The Full Monty actor has begun work on The Time Machine, based on the HG Wells novel. He co-stars with GUY PEARCE and JEREMY IRONS in the film, which was first made in 1960 with ROD TAYLOR and YVETTE MIMIEUX.

Stars are rallying to support ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER in the face of allegations that he has groped women, berated his pregnant wife in public and engaged in extramarital liaisons. The star's publicist, Jill Eisenstadt, has released letters written by several of Schwarzenegger's supporters, including JAMIE LEE CURTIS, his co-star in True Lies, who says the allegations, in Premiere magazine, ``are clearly a politically motivated hatchet job.'' Nicholas Lazarus, of British TV's The Big Breakfast show, has written toSchwarzenegger saying DENISE VAN OUTEN, one of the three British talk-show hosts whom the star allegedly touched, ``had absolutely no problem at all with the interview and really enjoyed meeting you.''

The British director SIMON WEST, who is currently putting the finishing touches to Tomb Raider, is to next tackle a film based on the life of one of Britain's greatest racing drivers. The Silver Arrows, which West will also co-produce, is inspired by the true story of Richard Seaman and is set in the world of Grand Prix racing against a backdrop of political espionage at the beginning of the Second World War. Seaman made headlines when he defied Britain to race for Germany's Mercedes-Benz team, known as the Silver Arrows, and won the German Grand Prix in 1938. ``I've wanted to do a story set in the early days of Grand Prix racing for some time and when I heard about Richard Seaman's compelling story, I knew this was the one,'' West tells Daily Variety.

One of JUDY GARLAND's former husbands admits he is ``bitter'' about a television mini-series based on her life which scored high ratings when it aired in the U.S. this week. SID LUFT said Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, which was based on the book by their daughter LORNA LUFT, ``blew away'' a feature film which he was working on with OLIVER STONE. ``The whole project was a scam,'' said Luft, talking to the New York Daily News about the mini-series. ``Lorna wrote an autobiography about growing up, her love affairs, getting LIZA (MINNELLI) to go to the Betty Ford Clinic, and the break-up of her disastrous marriage. ``The mini-series latched on to the name of Judy Garland. I think Lorna is totally corrupt. She doesn't care about her father--or her mother. ``Nobody knew Judy Garland better than me. I will expose the truth in time.'' Lorna Luft retorted to the newspaper: ``I don't care what Sid thinks.''

REESE WITHERSPOON, the actress who co-starred with CHRISTIAN BALE in American Psycho, is practising a British accent in preparation for her role in the film adaptation of OSCAR WILDE's play The Importance of Being Earnest. The actress, who is married to RYAN PHILLIPPE, will join JUDI DENCH, RUPERT EVERETT and COLIN FIRTH in the comedy about mistaken identity, set in English high society during the 1890s.OLIVER PARKER will direct the $10million production, which is due to begin shooting in London on April 23 for nine weeks. Witherspoon will play Cecily Cardew, the young ward who is wooed by Rupert Everett's Algernon.

ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK has put his Sunset Boulevard house, known as the Pink Palace, back on the market for slightly less than the $3,600,000 he was asking for it last year. The house, built in 1935 by the crooner RUDY VALLEE and later owned by the actress JAYNE MANSFIELD, was put up for sale in September 1999 but was later withdrawn from the market. The asking price is now $3,500,000.

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