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ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...
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,''
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.''
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
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.
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.
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.
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''.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.''
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.
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 ð20 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
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
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.
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
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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