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ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...
``PUFFY'' COMBS is heading for Death Row in his first
major screen role. The rap mogul has signed to play
a convicted murderer sentenced to the electric chair
in Monster's Ball, a drama about three generations
of racist executioners, played by PETER BOYLE, BILLY
BOB THORNTON and HEATH LEDGER. HALLE BERRY will play
the dead man's widow, who falls for THORNTON's character
after the execution. Filming begins in Louisiana next
ARCHER, who is following KATHLEEN TURNER and AMANDA
DONOHOE in the role of Mrs Robinson in the London
production of The Graduate, has no qualms about taking
her clothes off in front of an audience. ``I'm an
actor,'' 51-year-old Archer tells Daily Variety. ``It's
a character who is so deliciously amoral - and I'm
old enough to play her.'' The actress, whose films
include Patriot Games and Body of Evidence, is appearing
on stage in Beverly Hills until Sunday in The Vagina
Monologues. She saw The Graduate in London last week
with her 24-year-old son Tom and she begins rehearsals
on May 21 for when she opens in the play on June 11.
film-maker RIDLEY SCOTT, who has directed Gladiator,
Hannibal and Black Hawk Down in quick succession,
will become a producer for his next project. He and
his brother Tony are joining forces to produce a thriller
called Six Bullets From Now, based on the true story
of the biggest ever hotel robbery .
KAY, who directed the SYLVESTER STALLONE flop Get
Carter, will direct the story of the five gunmen who
stole more than one million dollars in cash and jewels
from New York's Pierre Hotel in 1972. The film begins
shooting this autumn, when Ridley Scott has finished
post-production work on Black Hawk Down.
MICHAEL CAINE, who is co-starring with BRENDAN FRASER
in a remake of the GRAHAM GREENE novel The Quiet American,
is scornful of the original 1958 film, which starred
Second World War hero-turned-actor AUDIE MURPHY. ``Michael
says that Audie Murphy was a brave soldier but a cowardly
actor,'' said Fraser, who is in Los Angeles for the
premiere of The Mummy Returns. He said their version,
under the direction of Australian PHILIP NOYCE, is
far truer to the Greene novel than the original film,
which deleted all anti-American references to push
an anti-Communist message. ``It was contrary to what
Greene intended in his novel,'' he said. Caine has
the role of a cynical British journalist, originally
played by MICHAEL REDGRAVE.
ROBERT RODRIQUEZ, who wrote and directed the hit family
film Spy Kids, is heading south of the border to direct
Once Upon a Time in Mexico. It marks the third part
of his action trilogy which began in 1992 with El
Mariachi and continued with 1995's Desperado. ``I
plan on returning to a down-and-dirty, more experimental
style of shooting, similar to El Mariachi,'' Rodriguez
told the Hollywood Reporter.
BANDERAS is to star in Once Upon a Time in Mexico
and QUENTIN TARANTINO and SALMA HAYEK may also join
the cast. Friends star LISA KUDROW will produce and
star in her next film, a dark comedy called Intense
Girl Scouts. In it she will play a Girl Scout troop
leader who becomes involved a murder mystery after
being shunned by her troop when her attempts at good
deeds go awry.
SHARON STONE is on the verge of signing a deal to
portray LANA TURNER in a film about the star's romance
with gangster JOHNNY STOMPANATO, according to director
WAYNE WANG. Wang says the story of the affair, which
ended with the stabbing of Stompanato by Turner's
daughter, is ``so absurd it's almost a black comedy''.
He tells Entertainment Weekly he has spoken with ANTONIO
BANDERAS about playing Stompanato. But he told him:
``You have to get rid of your Spanish accent. Johnny
was a mobster from the Midwest.'' Croatian actor GORAN
VISNJIC, who co-stars in ER, is to make his British
film debut in the supernatural thriller Doctor Sleep.
Visnjic will play a hypnotherapist with telepathic
powers who gets caught up in the pursuit of a ritualistic
REDGRAVE, SHIRLEY HENDERSON and PADDY CONSIDINE co-star
in the 8 million production. former James Bond star
ROGER MOORE is lining up future film projects now
he has decided to go back to work. As well as appearing
as an ageing cat burglar in Skinning the Cat, he is
joining the cast of Boat Trip, in which he will play
a gay man on a Caribbean cruise.
Former Fleetwood Mac singer STEVIE NICKS has made
a guest appearance with Destiny's Child on the video
to promote their Bootylicious record. Nicks, whose
latest album, Trouble in Shangri-La has just been
released, is a big favourite of the pop trio, and
Bootylicious features a guitar riff from one of her
old songs, Edge of 17. The video was filmed in Los
Angeles this week.
PENN, who was born and raised in Southern California,
has narrated a skateboarding documentary, Dogtown
and Z-Boys, about the rise of the sport's popularity
in the area. Directed by star skateboarder STACY PERALTA,
the film profiles the Z-Boys, a skateboarding team
in Dogtown, a seedy stretch of Los Angeles oceanfront.
America's NBC TV network has ordered 13 episodes of
the BBC's game show Dog Eat Dog following the success
of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and The Weakest
Link. BBC production executives will be going to America
to help launch the show, which will make its US premiere
in the summer.
STALLONE is using the online auction house eBay to
sell memorabilia connected to his famous brother,
SYLVESTER. Bidding has started at 5,000 on a Rambo
knife autographed by the actor and used in one of
the Rambo films. ``This is the only knife Sylvester
Stallone ever signed,'' writes Frank in his description
of the item. ``I know this for sure. I'm his brother
Frank and it is signed to me.'' He adds that his brother
was once offered (dollars)100,000 for the knife. According
to the New York Daily News, Frank previously used
eBay to sell a full length designer overcoat that
had belonged to his brother. It brought in a little
over (dollars) 100.
SOPHIA LOREN celebrates her 100th film, Between Strangers,
by working with her son, EDOARDO (corr) PONTI, who
is making his feature film directing debut on the
drama. Her scenes will be with the British actor PETER
POSTLETHWAITE, who co-stars with MALCOLM MCDOWELL,
MIRA SORVINO and WENDY CREWSON in the story of three
generations of women who confront their past. ``I
feel so grateful to be work with such a magnificent
actress and person,'' Edoardo told Daily Variety.
``We have been rehearsing in Los Angeles for a couple
of weeks and it seemed so natural to be working with
her.'' The film will be set and shot entirely in Toronto.
ALEX GARLAND, whose novel The Beach was turned into
a film starring LEONARDO DICAPRIO, has written an
original screenplay called Days Later. This new project
will reunite him with The Beach director DANNY BOYLE
and producer ANDREW MACDONALD. Days Later is due to
start shooting in August in London, although no cast
has yet been set. The story follows a small group
of people who survive a virus that wipes out the rest
of the world's population.
WOODS has taken over the role originally to have been
played by MARLON BRANDO in the horror-comedy Scary
Movie 2. Brando was to have spent four days playing
a priest who performs a supernatural exorcism at the
beginning of the film, but he had to drop out because
of ill health. Woods joins a cast that includes the
British actor TIM CURRY, TORI SPELLING and NATASHA
LYONNE. Scary Movie 2 satirises supernatural horror
films such as The Exorcist and Stigmata.
REDDY has sold the home in Los Angeles where she has
lived for thepast 35 years in order to return to her
native Australia The singer, best-known for I Am a
Woman, is now semi-retired and plans to divide her
time between Australia and the United States. She
sold the house for slightly more than (dollars) 1
million, which she reportedly plans to use to buy
a home on Norfolk Island, off the Australian coast.
JUDE LAW plays a romantic robot named Joe Gigolo in
STEVEN SPIELBERG's AI, the science-fiction drama STANLEY
KUBRICK was working on when he died. The British actor,
who studied mime and the movements of peacocks to
prepare for the role, sings and dances as part of
his character's talents. ``He's a gigolo,'' Law explains
to the Los Angeles Times. ``He has various clients
- some he just talks to, some he massages, some he
presumably takes a bit further. They are able to change
the ways in which he seduces.'' The 60 million film
is based on the BRIAN ALDISS short story, Super-Toys
Last All Summer Long, with a treatment and notes prepared
by Kubrick in the early 90s and a script written by
Spielberg. ``It's Steven's film but Stanley was talked
about every day,'' said Law.
MOORE is coming out of retirement to play an ageing
cat burglar in Skinning the Cat. The former James
Bond star, who now spends his time as an ambassador
for Unicef, made his last film appearance in 1997's
Spice World. He has been lured back to the screen
by Skinning the Cat director, JOHN GLEN, who previously
directed him in the James Bond films Octopussy and
A View to a Kill in 1985.
CARREY is breaking new ground with his serious role
in The Majestic, in which he plays a blacklisted writer
in the 1950s who loses his memory in a car accident.
``He's going to surprise a lot of people and raise
a lot of eyebrows,'' his co-star, MARTIN LANDAU, tells
syndicated columnist MARILYN BECK. ``It's a pleasure
to see him as a human being, a really complex character.''
Landau, who plays a man who mistakes Carrey's character
for the son he lost in the war, added: ``Jim's character
would have been played by Jimmy Stewart if it had
been made in 1951. There are all these layers and
it's totally devoid of shtick.''
SMITH has joined the ever -growing ranks of celebrity
parents who have written children's books. Just the
Two of Us, which is based on Smith's hit song and
which he wrote for his eight-year-old son Trey, is
due to be released this month. Smith, who is currently
filming Ali, the biography of MUHAMMAD ALI, has plans
for more books with his wife, JADA PINKETT SMITH.
``We have lots of ideas that we are kicking around,''
LUCIE ARNAZ and her brother DESI ARNAZ JR are close
to finalising a deal for an I Love Lucy 50th anniversary
television special and a touring show which would
pay tribute to their mother, Lucille Ball. The show
would permanently tour theatres and fairs across the
world, and lawyers are currently ironing out the details.
Lucie Arnaz remains in London, resting with a broken
toe from the show The Witches of Eastwick. She will
return to America when her year's contract expires
at the end of June.