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week 12-01
ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...

NICOLE KIDMAN has reportedly promised 20th Century Fox she will promote her new film Moulin Rouge worldwide. The move leaves Kidman open to inevitable questions about her pending divorce from TOM CRUISE. The Australian actress, who is recuperating from a knee injury that forced her to pull out of The Panic Room, is due to begin work on British director STEPHEN DALDRY's The Hours in London in May. She is also talking to Danish director LARS VON TRIER about starring in his next film Dogville. Von Trier, who won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival with Dancer in the Dark, wrote the script for the 1930s drama with Kidman in mind and has already cast the British actress KATRIN CARTLIDGE in a co-starring role.

The British actress KATE BECKINSALE will be returning to Hawaii for the premiere of Disney's $100 million Second World War epic Pearl Harbour. Producer JERRY BRUCKHEIMER is planning a spectacular party, with more than 2,000 guests, including survivors of the 1941 Japanese attack on the deck of the nuclear aircraft carrier USS John Stennis. The film will be shown on one of the world's largest screens and an 80-member Hawaiian choir will perform, along with a Navy group called the Sea Chanters. Beckinsale and her co-stars, BEN AFFLECK and JOSH HARTNETT, spent most of last year filming Pearl Harbour at the site where the attack occurred and on locations around the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

MERYL STREEP has signed to appear in director STEVEN SPIELBERG's Minority Report, which has just started production in Los Angeles. The Oscar-winning actress, who recently finished filming The Women, will have a small role in the sci-fi drama, which stars TOM CRUISE and COLIN FARRELL. Based on a story by Blade Runner author PHILIP DICK, Minority Report is set in a futuristic judicial system in which killers are arrested and convicted before they commit murder.

WHITNEY HOUSTON will meet James Bond producers BARBARA BROCCOLI and MICHAEL WILSON to discuss co-starring with Pierce Brosnan in the next 007 film. MGM spokeswoman AMANDA LUNDBERG and Houston's representative, NANCY SELTZER, would confirm only that a meeting is to take place. The next Bond instalment is set to begin filming later this year but as yet there is no title or any signed contracts. The most recent Bond girl was DENISE RICHARDS, who co-starred in The World Is Not Enough.

JOHN CLEESE is to star in his first American television series, playing the medical director at a Fawlty Towers-style hospital. Called HMO, the series stands for ``health maintenance organisation'' and will focus on the absurdities of the American system of health care. The former Monty Python actor, who now lives in Santa Barbara, California, has made guest appearances on 3rd Rock From the Sun and been a consultant on other comedy shows.

Action star STEVEN SEAGAL is back, slimmed down and toned up, in a new hit film after a three-year absence from cinema screens. Producer JOEL SILVER, who chose Seagal to star as a Detroit cop in Exit Wounds, tells the Los Angeles Times: ``I told him, `If you want the part, you gotta lose the weight, get a haircut and change your wardrobe'.'' Silver added: ``He's not fat and he's not wearing any Navajo blankets.'' The producer hired the rap star DMX to play Seagal's partner, saying: ``I just thought mixing up hip-hop and martial arts would be a great combination.'' Exit Wounds is currently top of the US film box office charts.

TOM HANKS and STEVEN SPIELBERG will premiere their 10-hour Second World War TV series Band of Brothers in Normandy on the anniversary of D-Day. ``We'll be sitting with some of the veterans we're playing in the show,'' says DONNIE WAHLBERG, who stars in the series and spent nine months filming the $100 million project in England last year. ``It's going to be very, very emotional.''

Oscar-winner JODIE FOSTER, who turned down the role of Clarice Starling in Hannibal, is deciding whether to star in the Western, One Hundred Years On. Foster is being wooed to sign on as a female cattle rancher whose livelihood is threatened by greedy interlopers. While it may not appear to be groundbreaking, all the major roles - good and bad - will be played by women. Studio executives hope this feminist spin will appeal to Foster as she has already agreed to produce the film.

The Australian actor-singer HUGH JACKMAN will be househunting in London this summer. ``I've got more relatives in London than I have in Australia,'' says Jackman, whose parents were born in Britain. His urge to establish a base in London with his wife and son was boosted when he worked with former football hardman VINNIE JONES and JOHN TRAVOLTA on the thriller Swordfish. ``Vinnie's a great guy,'' he said. ``We had a lot of laughs together. He's very proud to be British - he has Union Jacks stuck everywhere.'' Jackman, who returns as Wolverine in X-Men 2 when it begins filming in December, has also starred on the London stage in Oklahoma!

CHRIS O'DONNELL has left the snow-covered mountains of Vertical Limit for the California desert where he is shooting the dark thriller 29 Palms. ``It's a little change of pace for me,'' said O'Donnell, who sports moustache and goatee for the role. ``It's a little warmer than the top of a mountain.''

JOHNNY DEPP became a regular visitor to jailed international criminal and drug smuggler GEORGE JUNG as he prepared for his role in the film Blow. Depp, who portrays Jung in the film based on the drug trafficker's life, admits he became fascinated with him and would like to see him freed. ``He really saw himself as a modern-day pirate,'' said Depp of Jung, who will be in jail at least until the year 2014. ``He needed the rush. The excitement and the danger became the high for him - the drugs were just incidental. ``He never thought of himself as a bad guy. He won't get out of prison until he's 72. ``Other people involved in the same bust got two to three years. I think he's paid his debt.'' PENELOPE CRUZ co-stars with Depp as Jung's high-living wife.

QUENTIN TARANTINO is planning a prequel to his hit film Pulp Fiction which will star JOHN TRAVOLTA and MICHAEL MADSEN. They have both committed themselves to the project, according to New York magazine. The film will be called The Vega Brothers after Travolta's Vincent Vega character in Pulp Fiction and Madsen's Vic Vega in Reservoir Dogs. A source close to Tarantino says the film-maker first plans to shoot Kill Bill in which UMA THURMAN plays a coma victim and then his Second World War picture Glorious Bastards.

ELIZABETH HURLEY says Friends star MATTHEW PERRY is ``getting better every day''. The actor, who is in rehab fighting drug addiction, co-stars with the British model-actress in the comedy Servicing Sara, which has halted production until he returns. ``Of course I'm anxious to wrap our movie which is on hold, but the most important thing is his 100% recovery,'' said Hurley at a Tribute to Style event in Los Angeles.

Ally McBeal star CALISTA FLOCKHART is set to follow fellow Americans KATHLEEN TURNER and MACAULAY CULKIN on to the London stage. The 36-year-old actress is to play heiress Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story - the role KATHERINE HEPBURN assumed on stage and in the 1940 film. The production, which will also star GWYNETH PALTROW's mother BLYTHE DANNER, will begin previews on May 21 before a June opening. It is expected to run for at least 10 weeks, according to the Hollywood Reporter, depending on Flockhart's commitment to Ally McBeal.

Emmy-winner STANLEY TUCCI is to play comedian GROUCHO MARX in a two-hour television film. It will be based on the book Love, Groucho: Letters from Groucho Marx to his Daughter Miriam by MIRIAM MARX ALLEN. The film will trace the tempestuous 40-year relationship between the cigar-smoking comic and his daughter. This all takes place against the backdrop of his turbulent personal life and showbusiness success, first with his brothers and later as the host of the TV show You Bet Your Life. No actors have yet been cast for the roles of the other Marx brothers, Harpo and Chico. Tucci's Marx role follows his award-winning portrayal of the controversial newspaper columnist WALTER WINCHELL in the made-for-TV film Winchell.

BARBRA STREISAND is reportedly interested in producing a film based on the life of SYLVESTER STALLONE's mother Jackie, starring SHIRLEY MACLAINE. Streisand has discussed the project with Stallone, although it could be some time before a script is written, according to gossip columnist LIZ SMITH. JACKIE STALLONE was born in Paris and has been a trapeze artist, a hairdresser, a dermatologist and, most famously, a psychic.

English cinematographer JACK CARDIFF will return straight to work after receiving the first honorary Oscar ever given for achievements. Cardiff, 86, will accept the award at Sunday's Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles, then begin work in England on a new low-budget British film, Sabina Anima. It is based on a true story of a Russian Jewish woman with mental problems who embarks on a doomed love affair with psychoanalyst CARL JUNG. ``It will be interesting,'' Cardiff tells the Los Angeles Times. ``The woman has mental disorders which will allow me to use some strange lighting.'' There is also a strong family link behind the picture, with one of his four sons, MASON CARDIFF, assuming the role of co-producer.

British TV personality and model KELLY BROOK is to star in her own US television series. She will play the lead in The (Mis)adventures of Fiona Plum, a weekly comedy about a young, spoiled British witch. Her plum role will see her banished by her father to Seattle to work for a typical American family until she learns to behave properly. It will air on the Warner Bros TV network, along with the established witch comedy Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

MADONNA hopes to persuade MTV and VH-1 to air her new video on a regular basis after both said they plan to limit it to only one late-night showing. Executives say the video, directed by Madonna's husband GUY RITCHIE, is too violent to be shown regularly. In the video for What It Feels Like For a Girl, Madonna plays an angry woman on a crime spree. Her publicist LIZ ROSENBERG confirms: ``There is a lot of violence in the video. It tells the story of a woman who has probably been abused. ``It's very strong. It's not the last video you'd want to see before going to sleep at night.'' An MTV spokeswoman said executives had not asked for any cuts, but the network would only air the four-and-a-half minute video once late at night. Three of this year's Oscar nominees are in final negotiations to star together in a fact-based romantic epic.

JULIETTE BINOCHE, nominated for Chocolat, BENICIO DEL TORO (Traffic) and GEOFFREY RUSH (Quills) will head the cast of The Assumption of the Virgin. Oscar-winning writer-director ANTHONY MINGHELLA has written the tale about the taboo romance between the painter FRA LIPPI and a nun who poses for him. It will also star one of last year's nominees, CHLOE SEVIGNY (Boys Don't Cry), and will be co-produced by Minghella and his American partner in Mirage Enterprises, SYDNEY POLLACK. ``Lippi is a hedonistic, extraordinarily physical guy who, even though he was a monk, was a notorious womaniser who fell in love with a deeply religious nun,'' Pollack tells Daily Variety. The story, which takes place during the Italian Renaissance in 15th-century Florence, was discovered and brought to Mirage by Minghella's wife, CAROLYN CHOPA.

Novelist ROBERT LUDLUM, who died last weekend aged 73, left the outlines for as many as a dozen new books, according to his agent HENRY MORRISON. Morrison tells USA Today the author had told him: ``I've got more ideas in my head than I can ever write.'' He said Ludlum's background as a professional actor and director for 20 years had helped his writing, adding: ``Great characters turned him on.'' Ludlum's works will be boosted by the release in May of the film version of his thriller, The Bourne Identity, which stars MATT DAMON. A new hardcover, The Sigma Protocol, which he completed before he died, will be in the stores in October.

The US Secret Service is trying to trace a stack of fake 100-dollar bills stolen from the set of Rush Hour 2. Film-makers behind the highly anticipated sequel to the 1998 action blockbuster, which stars CHRIS TUCKER and JACKIE CHAN, minted tens of millions of the fake bills for Las Vegas casino scenes. Somebody stole a stack of the bills, which bear the phrase In Dog We Trust, and managed to spend several of them undetected. Secret Service officers have seized the remaining false cash.

The Malaysian-born action star MICHELLE YEOH will be speaking in English for her next film. The former James Bond girl will be using her athletic abilities as the star of The Touch, a romantic action-adventure about a family of circus acrobats. ``I enjoy action films but I'd like to do a romantic comedy,'' says the 38-year-old actress. ``It's less taxing on the body.'' Yeoh had to learn Mandarin phonetically for her role in the Oscar-nominated Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

TOM HANKS could receive his third Oscar this year for his role in Cast Away, but behind the actor's famous smile, there's secret heartache. His first wife, SUSAN DILLINGHAM, mother of his children Colin and Elizabeth, is dying of cancer. The couple married in 1982 and were divorced in 1987. ``We tried to make out marriage work, but we were both too young,'' Hanks says. Now Hanks, who is married to actress RITA WILSON, is making sure his ex-wife has the best medical care in the few months she has left to live. A friend says: ``Tom is feeling pain for Susan, for the loss their children are going to suffer and sadness when he remembers the happy days falling in love with Susan when they were students together at Cal State University. ``Oscar night is just bringing him one day closer to losing her forever.''

Everyone knows CATHERINE ZETA-JONES and husband MICHAEL DOUGLAS are doting parents to baby Dylan. But you may not know their biggest terror is that their baby will be kidnapped. Douglas, son of movie legend KIRK DOUGLAS, admits his fears are rooted in an attempt to kidnap him when he was just a little boy. ``When I was six, living in New York City, a couple of guys approached me outside my apartment building and I ran down into the basement and hid under a boiler,'' he remembers. ``I could see them. They waited and waited. I will never forget.'' Douglas knew the basement had a lift, so he made a dash for the doors and made his escape. ``The elevator had one of those porthole doors. I got into it, pushed the button, and I saw the guy's face right in front of me as I was peering out before the lift went up. It was pretty traumatic.'' Douglas and Zeta-Jones won't reveal the level of security that surrounds baby Dylan every day of his life, but he says: ``Obviously, there are precautions taken.'' His new movie, Don't Say a Word, is about a man racing to rescue his kidnapped child.

Hollywood veteran JAMES GARNER, 73, has no time for his contemporaries who keep trading in their wives for younger models. ``I can't say I agree with those May-December romances,'' Garner says. ``Yet I see it happening all the time. ``It's not unusual for a 65-year-old actor, producer or director to be dating a woman who is only 30, or sometimes even younger. ``Even if I were single, I still couldn't see myself dating a younger woman. To me, it's embarrassing. ``There's no fool like an old fool, and these old goats - they don't even know how foolish they look. I feel sorry for them.'' Garner and his wife Lois have been married for nearly 45 years, and he says: ``We have the pleasure of a shared history, but she can still surprise me and I still adore her.''

Pop sensation MANDY MOORE is heading for big screen romance. The teenage chart-topper is in talks to star in a romance feature called A Walk to Remember, with American actor ADAM WEST. Moore will play a naive, innocent girl, made fun of by an older boy (West) and his friends, until they discover she is dying. The film is based on a book by NICHOLAS SPARKS, whose novels Message in a Bottle and The Love Letter have also been made into popular movies.

British-based Aussie supermodel ELLE MACPHERSON, nicknamed simply The Body, is still the most highly paid woman on the catwalk. Macpherson earns a whopping 40.3 million dollars per year. Strutting close behind her is Cindy Crawford with 37.7 million dollars, then Claudia Schiffer at 36 million dollars. Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell follow with 29.8 million dollars and 28.9 million dollars, respectively.

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