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week 10-01
ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...

HARRISON FORD's representatives have scoffed at reports that the actor is being paid 25 million dollars for 20 days of work on the submarine drama K-19: The Widowmaker. ``It's a total fabrication,'' says his spokeswoman PATRICIA McQUEENEY. Although she acknowledges the figure is correct, she insists Ford is earning his money. ``He has been working on the script and casting for three months and he travelled to London with the director to meet TOM STOPPARD before he came in and did a rewrite,'' she tells Daily Variety. ``The shoot is four-and-a-half months long and he's working every day.'' She said Ford would also be involved in post-production work and will do a promotional tour when the film is released. ``He likes to be fully involved which is why he doesn't do more than one movie a year,'' she said.

The British actress KATE BECKINSALE had a frightening time dodging the fire and explosions in the big-budget Second World War film Pearl Harbour, in which she plays a hospital nurse. Among the effects ordered by director MICHAEL BAY was the detonation of 450 dynamite bombs triggered to blow up six US Navy ships while nine vintage planes buzzed overhead. ``We were all completely petrified,'' Beckinsale, who co-stars with BEN AFFLECK and JOSH HARTNETT, told Boxoffice magazine. ``They had a safety meeting and I think we were all more scared by what was said in the meeting than by the actual take we had to do. By the time it happened we were completely jittery.''

GREG KINNEAR is likely to win the coveted real-life role of Bob Crane, who starred in the TV series Hogan's Heroes but lived a secret life in the world of sex and pornography. The film chronicles Crane's obsessions and his mysterious 1978 murder in a motel room where he was found with his skull crushed with a camera tripod. ``We became fascinated by the story,'' said co-producer LARRY KRASZEWSKI, who with his partner SCOTT ALEXANDER was behind such film biographies as People vs Larry Flynt and the ANDY KAUFMAN film Man on the Moon. ``It's less about Crane's biography as the star of Hogan's Heroes as it is about this obsession that led him into a spiral of strip clubs, decadence and immorality.''

The British actress BRENDA BLETHYN is to star in a new American comedy television series, The Seven Roses. The two-time Oscar nominee will play the recently widowed Pamela, an ex-stage actress who owns and operates the Seven Roses Inn. It will be her first American series role. ``She's always been our first choice,'' said co-producer CHRISTOPHER LLOYD, who previously worked on Frasier. ``When we wrote this we started conjuring up her image and voice. We talked to her about the idea and she loved it.'' Blethyn was most recently seen in America in the comedy Saving Grace and will be seen in the upcoming mini-series Anne Frank. She also stars opposite Christina Ricci in the upcoming feature film Pumpkin.

EMMA THOMPSON, who took a three-year break from acting after her last film, Primary Colours, has found her return to work to be more difficult than she expected. The award-winning British actress has just finished starring in the TV version of the play Wit, in which she plays a professor dying of ovarian cancer. ``Physically it has taken a greater toll on me than anything I've ever done,'' she said in a satellite press conference. ``It really knocked me for six. It involved tension of a mammoth order to make your body show pain and to make it apparent in your voice and in your breathing.'' The actress, who had her head shaved for the role, said although she took her baby daughter Gaiea to the set frequently, she left her at home for scenes in which she had to appear in pain or distressed. ``She only came when I was pretty normal,'' she said.

Oscar-nominated director STEVEN SODERBERGH has abandoned plans to hire MIKE TYSON to join LENNOX LEWIS for a staged bout in his remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film Ocean's Eleven. He fears the volatile Tyson may not be able to control himself if he finds himself in a ring with his bitter foe. ``My sense was that it would not be a tension-free set,'' said Soderbergh, ``and I believe in a tension-free set.'' Instead, he is pairing Lewis with World Boxing Organisation heavyweight champion VLADIMIR KLITSCHKO. Tyson, who last year played himself in Black and White, was said to be keen to join the cast, which includes GEORGE CLOONEY, BRAD PITT, JULIA ROBERTS, MATT DAMON and BILL MURRAY. But Soderbergh was more interested in Lewis, saying: ``He was someone I was sort of fixated on.'' As for Klitschko, he said: ``He's one of the big contenders, and it's a fight people do want to see.'' The scene, to be shot at Las Vegas's MGM Grand hotel at the end of this month, calls for about 9,000 extras.

A woman has accused SYLVESTER STALLONE of ``physically and sexually'' assaulting her by pinning her to a sofa and forcing himself on her. Stallone's lawyer, Marty Singer, says the woman, 42-year-old Margie Carr, was a ``hanger-on'' at the body building gym where the actor works out. Her lawsuit, filed in Santa Monica Superior Court was ``totally frivolous and without merit'', according to Singer. He said that in a recent magazine interview she claimed she'd had a ``10-year affair'' with Stallone and wanted to marry him. Her suit seeks unspecified damages for emotional distress and ``oppressive and malicious actions''.

British actor ALFRED MOLINA has joined JUDE LAW in SAM MENDES's big-budget gangster film The Road to Perdition. Molina, who earned critical acclaim for his role as the town mayor in Chocolat, plays AL CAPONE in the story of a hitman seeking revenge for the murder of his wife. The film, which is Mendes's first since he won an Oscar for American Beauty, also stars TOM HANKS as the hitman and PAUL NEWMAN as his father.

BEN KINGSLEY, who plays ANNE FRANK's father Otto in the TV mini-series Anne Frank, describes the scenes set in Nazi death camps as ``relentless''. The British Oscar-winning actor studied documentary footage of OTTO FRANK, who lived until 91 after surviving the camps in which his wife and two daughters were killed. Kingsley, who also appeared in Schindler's List, hails 14-year-old HANNAH TAYLOR-GORDON, who plays Anne Frank. He said she was an extraordinary actress, adding that she was very brave during the filming of the brutal death camp scenes.

Co-producers PRINCE EDWARD and BARBRA STREISAND were not invited to the White House screening of Varian's War: A Forgotten Hero this week. Among the guests of PRESIDENT GEORGE W BUSH were the film's star, British actress JULIA ORMOND. White House sources say Streisand's omission was ``because screening happened very quickly'', and was nothing to do with her political affiliations. Streisand's Barwood and Prince Edward's Ardent production companies collaborated on the film, which is based on the American VARIAN FRY. He risked his life rescuing French artists from the French Vichy, the Nazi-controlled government, by taking them over the Pyrenees to safety.

Teen pop star MANDY MOORE is rushing to bring out her new album so it can cash in on the success of her platinum-selling debut CD So Real. The 16-year-old is also determined to topple rival BRITNEY SPEARS from her position as teen singing queen. Her dedication has won the respect of veteran songwriter BOB ROBINSON. He said: ``We recorded one song with her and we're supposed to do two or three more. ``It was incredible working with her. She came into the studio and in two hours she was done with the song.'' An observer of the recording sessions added: ``Mandy's after Britney's crown and she's going to do whatever it takes.''

Bafta award-winning director ANG LEE is developing a prequel to the best-picture Oscar nominee Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Lee is in the early stages of writing it but says he hopes to bring back CHOW YUN FAT and MICHELLE YEOH, who star in the film about love, honour and a legendary Chinese sword. The main problem facing him is money. ``It would be very expensive - everybody's going to charge me five times as much,'' says Lee, who is in Las Vegas to receive an award for international film-making at the annual ShoWest convention for cinema owners.

SHARON STONE is expected to give her approval this week to JULIA ROBERTS' boyfriend BENJAMIN BRATT as her leading man in Basic Instinct 2. She met him on Friday, and sources now expect the film to go ahead under the direction of Die Hard director JOHN McTIERNAN. Bratt will play a psychiatrist who has a steamy affair with Stone's icepick-wielding Catherine Trammell. He is the latest in a line of leading men who have been offered the role, including MICHAEL DOUGLAS, KURT RUSSELL, ROBERT DOWNEY JR and BRUCE GREENWOOD.

MINNIE DRIVER is to star opposite PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN in Owning Molony, which could be her first successful movie since Good Will Hunting. She will play the girlfriend of Hoffman's mild-mannered Toronto bank manager who gambles away 12 million dollars of the bank's money. Driver's last two films were Return to Me and Beautiful while Hoffman has appeared in Almost Famous, Magnolia and State and Main.

JAMIE LEE CURTIS is to make an appearance in Halloween 8, the next in the series of horror films featuring the deranged killer Michael Myers. The actress starred in the first Halloween in 1978 and 20 years later appeared in Halloween H20. She will have a cameo role in Halloween 8, which involves a group of young people who venture into the home of the supposedly deceased Myers. The film is due to go into production shortly.

American actor JONATHAN WOODWARD had a daunting task in his film and television debut. Playing a doctor opposite EMMA THOMPSON in the TV version of the award-winning play Wit, he had to master medical procedures. ``It's my first film, I'm flying first class to London, it's my first scene in the film - and I have to give Emma a pelvic examination!'' he said. The British actress, he said, was extremely gracious and told him: ``Feel free to rummage around.'' He added: ``She was so wonderful that all the nervous tension was lost. She's my heroine.''

JENNIFER LOPEZ, whose scanty Versace dress shocked the Grammys last year, could soon have her own line of clothing. The singer-actress is in talks with ANDY HILFINGER, younger brother of designer TOMMY HILFINGER. ``She has wanted to do merchandising for some time,'' says her spokesman, ALAN NIEROB.

Production has almost ground to a halt on Servicing Sara until news emerges whether MATTHEW PERRY will be released from a drug rehab clinic. The Friends star, who underwent treatment for addiction to pain-killing pills, notified the producers that he was being readmitted under doctor's orders, with no date set for his release. Friends producers say the series will continue as usual but the situation is different on Servicing Sara. A source says: ``Matthew's in every scene. There's not much more that can be done without him.'' ELIZABETH HURLEY co-stars, along with BRUCE CAMPBELL, AMY ADAMS, TERRY CREWS and PAUL HECKMAN.

HARRISON FORD has reassured Russian critics that his latest film, a Cold War thriller, will not taint the heroism of a group of doomed submariners. K-19: The Widowmaker is based on the true story of Russian sailors who struggled to avert a nuclear accident on board a Soviet submarine in 1961. It has sparked controversy over whether Hollywood is accurately portraying their actions. Survivors say it portrays the crew as ``uncultured, uneducated people who suffered from lack of discipline, alcoholism and technical illiteracy''. Ford, who is receiving 20 million for portraying the submarine's commander, said: ``That has never been the case. Like any crew, they were like any group of men. ``There were variations. Some of them were more educated than others. Some of them came from different circumstances. Some of them were scared and some of them were brave. ``It's no aid to the success of the story to have these guys made out to be fools and louts and drunks.''

HUGH GRANT's leading lady in the long-delayed film version of NICK HORNBY's novel About a Boy is likely to be the Australian actress TONI COLLETTE. Collette, who co-starred with BRUCE WILLIS in The Sixth Sense, is in negotiations for the role of the mother of a 12-year-old son with whom Grant's wealthy womaniser becomes involved. About a Boy is due to begin production in London next month. It was originally to have been filmed three years ago by ROBERT DE NIRO's Tribeca company. Now it is a joint venture between Tribeca and Working Title Films, who collaborated with Grant on Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bridget Jones's Diary.

ROBBIE WILLIAMS and GERI HALLIWELL will be among a bevy of pop stars contributing to the soundtrack for the film version of Bridget Jones's Diary. Williams will sing two songs, including FRANK SINATRA's Have You Met Miss Jones? while the former Spice Girl will perform the Weather Girls' song It's Raining Men. All the songs on the soundtrack are either originals or previously unreleased cover versions.

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN is undergoing a drastic change of image for her new film. The Australian-born singer, who plays a tattooed lesbian ex-convict singer in a seedy Texas bar, says: ``It was fun to do it.'' In her next film, The Wilde Girls, she will star with her real-life teenage daughter, CHLOE LATTANZI, playing a mother and daughter.

ROD STEWART is to embark on a worldwide concert tour covering the US, Britain and Europe, Australia Japan and South America. The shows will begin in mid-May, according to Stewart's manager ARNOLD STIEFEL, forming his first series of appearances since he had a cancerous lump removed from his throat last year. ``He's feeling fabulous and lucky to be alive,'' says Stiefel. ``The cancer didn't touch the vocal cords but all the surrounding muscles lost their memory and he had to learn to use them again. He couldn't sing for eight months.

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