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ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...
OF THE MATERIAL WORLD Miramax has offered one million
dollars for the film rights to a forthcoming book
about MADONNA. The movie would be based on British
author DOUGLAS THOMPSON's book, Madonna: Queen of
the World, according to publisher JOHN BLAKE. The
film company has reportedly lined up Sex and the City
actress SARAH JESSICA PARKER to portray Madonna on
screen. The updated and revised version of the book
is due to be released on July 1 to coincide with Madonna's
BRAD SILBERLING is denying his latest film, Baby's
in Black, is based on the murder of his girlfriend,
actress REBECCA SCHAEFFER. ``I was fortunate to have
had Rebecca in my life and I'm very comfortable with
there being a public understanding that this is an
emotional basis for the film,'' he tells Daily Variety.
``But I want to defuse expectations that this is her
family's story.'' Silberling had been dating Schaeffer,
the star of TV series My Sister Sam, for two years
when the 21-year-old actress was shot dead by a stalker
in 1989. He is now married to Judging Amy star AMY
BRENNERMAN. Baby's in Black centres on a young man
grieving for his murdered fiancee at her parent's
home when he falls in love with another woman. DUSTIN
HOFFMAN and SUSAN SARANDON star as the parents and
JAKE GYLLENHAAL plays the fiance. The word ``dirty''
has been deleted from one character's outburst against
the Japanese in the version of Pearl Harbor to be
shown in Japan. A Walt Disney studio official said
the word had been deleted out of sensitivity to ``international
audiences'' and acknowledged that other ``very small
changes'' had been made.
Producer JERRY BRUCKHEIMER, in interviews about Pearl
Harbor, said the film tries to show both countries'
points of view. ``It's all about perspective,'' he
said. ``We tried to show their point of view versus
our point of view.'' After surviving Pearl Harbor,
BEN AFFLECK is in discussions to star in the dramatic
comedy Surviving Christmas. He will play a man faced
with spending Christmas alone who returns to his childhood
home and convinces the family living there to take
him in. Production is expected to begin after he finishes
filming the TOM CLANCY story The Sum of All Fears,
in which he takes over the role of CIA agent Jack
Ryan from HARRISON FORD.
CLOONEY has taken a few days off from filming the
Las Vegas casino bank robbery story Ocean's Eleven.
He used the time to fly to Cleveland to crack a safe
in his next film, Collinwood, which has already started
production. Clooney not only stars in Collinwood,
but is also producing it with his Ocean's Eleven director,
the Oscar-winning STEVEN SODERBERGH.
band Travis will tour America for this sixth time
this summer, with their single Sing on the verge of
becoming their first major US hit. Travis's new album,
The Invisible Band, is to be released on June 12 and
the influential Los Angeles Times predicts it will
be a big hit. ``After the anger and decadence of 90s
pop-rock, Travis's sunny, optimistic embrace may be
just what audiences are looking for today,'' writes
the newspaper's critic.
ANTHONY, president of Epic Records Group, the band's
US label, is also a fan. ``What has always struck
me about this band is its absolute sincerity, a quality
that makes them inspirational and uplifting without
being saccharine,'' she says. LEO LINES UP FRAUDSTER
ROLE LEONARDO DI CAPRIO, who recently finished filming
Gangs of New York for director MARTIN SCORSESE, has
already chosen his next project. He is negotiating
to star in Catch Me If You Can, the true tale of Frank
Abagnale Jr, an imposter who impersonated so many
people and forged so many cheques that he was the
only teenager ever on the FBI's 10 most wanted list.
director LASSE HALLSTROM, who previously worked with
DiCaprio on What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, is likely
to direct the film. ANTHONY HOPKINS' latest film has
ground to a standstill because ALEC BALDWIN, who is
making his directing debut, is refusing to continue
until financial problems are settled. The Devil and
Daniel Webster has finished filming but Baldwin tells
Daily Variety he will not edit the project until the
producers come up with more money. He said that he
and others were not paid during the last month of
production and he had to hire a lawyer to get his
money. Baldwin also co-stars in the film as a writer
who sells his soul to the devil, played by JENNIFER
LOVE HEWITT. Hopkins is the lawyer who argues on behalf
of the writer's soul. The two men behind the hit film
The Exorcist are suing Warner Bros, claiming they
have been cheated out of profits from the re-release
of the film last year.
WILLIAM FRIEDKIN and WILLIAM BLATTY, who wrote the
best-selling book and the film screenplay, claim the
studio gave the rights to the new Exorcist to its
cable television stations for nothing. The film earned
70 million worldwide when it was released again last
year, making it the second most successful re-release
after the Star Wars series. According to the lawsuit,
filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Friedkin and
Blatty spent years persuading Warner Bros to re-release
the film. Blatty outlined an arrangement of new scenes
and Friedkin spent s everal months re-editing the
film. Both men are seeking unspecified damages.
CURTIS is considering more plastic surgery to prepare
himself for his role in the stage musical Some Like
It Hot, which opens in Las Vegas in July. ``If I need
a little screw tightening up in my face, I'll get
it,'' he says. Curtis, who turns 76 next month, is
taking dancing lessons for the role of Osgood Fielding
III, who was played in the hit 1959 film by JOE E
BROWN. As for singing, he says: ``I'll do it like
REX HARRISON did in My Fair Lady.'' The son of fashion
designer RALPH LAUREN is getting into the film business.
ANDREW LAUREN, whose father designed the clothes for
the cast of 1974's The Great Gatsby, is producing
an updated remake of the film, called G. Instead of
dealing with socialites on Long Island during the
1920s, Lauren Jr's version is set against the backdrop
of the hip-hop culture. It stars RICHARD T JONES and
BLAIR UNDERWOOD in the story of a rap mogul who built
an empire to win back the woman he loves. Filming
is now under way in the Hamptons on Long Island, which
will set the scene where hip-hop has become the rage.
actor GERARD BUTLER has landed the starring role in
the big-budget film Timeline, which is based on the
MICHAEL CRICHTON novel. Butler will play Andre Marek,
the site manager of an archaeological dig in France
who is recruited to travel back in time to the 14th
century to rescue a school teacher. The role is a
major Hollywood breakthrough for Butler, who made
his feature film debut in Mrs Brown and starred in
the title role in the unsuccessful Dracula 2000.
MICHAEL DOUGLAS and CATHERINE ZETA-JONES are talking
to JOHN McTIERNAN about him directing them in their
next project, Smoke and Mirrors. Die Hard director
McTiernan is free to take over the film because his
pl ans to direct Basic Instinct II fell through when
SHARON STONE did not approve his wish to team her
with BENJAMIN BRATT. Scripts for Smoke and Mirrors,
the story of 19th-century illusionist JEAN ROBERT
HOUDIN, have been passed around Hollywood since 1993.
Both MEL GIBSON and SEAN CONNERY were said to be interested
in starring in the project at different times. It
is only with the involvement of such high-profile
stars and Douglas's producer brother Joel that the
film is now going ahead. The two stars will play Houdin
and his female assistant, who were sent to Algeria
by the French government to expose a sorcerer who
was trying to incite an anti-Colonial revolution.
Filming is due to begin this autumn in north Africa.
NORTHAM displays his previously unrevealed singing
talents in Gosford Park, which ROBERT ALTMAN is filming
in England. He plays the composer-actor IVOR NOVELLO
and, according to sources, unveils a fine singing
voice. Altman describes his film, which features an
ensemble cast of well-known British actors, as Rules
of Engagement meets Ten Little Indians. Those appearing
in the film also include MAGGIE SMITH, EILEEN ATKINS,
HELEN MIRREN, DEREK JACOBI, MICHAEL GAMBON and RICHARD
LOPEZ's family are making sure her title as the world's
sexiest woman, conferred upon her by FHM magazine,
does not go to her head. ``They just laughed and said,
`You're the world's sexiest woman? Ha, that's funny',''
the actress-singer told USA Today. ``The family really
keeps me grounded.'' She said her new boyfriend, CHRIS
JUDD, was not intimidated by her title, either. `
`He's not fazed by any of this,'' she said. ``We'd
rather be home in bed.''
SCOTT THOMAS will not be giving interviews to promote
her new film, Life As a House, in which she stars
with Kevin Kline, despite favourable reports. Instead,
the British actress who lives in Paris will be appearing
on the French stage in Racine's Berenice. Rehearsals
begin in June, the play opens in the provinces in
July and makes its Paris debut in September.
star JOSH HARTNETT found acting in the big-budget
blockbuster Pearl Harbour to be very different to
his previous role in the low-budget film The Virgin
Suicides. ``There were big bombs going off and I didn't
have to think about my motivation,'' he said. ``All
I had to do was run towards the fire. You just go
ahead and do it. ``In The Virgin Suicides I was talking
to the director SOFIA COPPOLA every day and we were
as close as brother and sister.'' Hartnett, who has
been in Hawaii promoting Pearl Harbour, is now filming
the Somalian war story Black Hawk Down for the British
director RIDLEY SCOTT.
JUDE LAW's character in the much-anticipated sci-fi
saga AI, is like ``a washing machine with a heart
of gold'', according to writer-director STEVEN SPIELBERG.
The British actor plays a robot named Gigolo Joe who
is designed to service the sexual needs of the dwindling
human population. STANLEY KUBRICK had been developing
the tale for nearly 30 years until his death, and
Spielberg then took over. ``He looks like perfection,''
Spielberg says of Law in an interview with the New
York Times. ``When his mother and father had him,
he must have been a perfect child. He's an Adonis.
He has tremendous fire in his eyes, electric eyes.
I thought, `Gee, electric eyes! Not bad for a robot!'''
50 million, 4,000-seat theatre is being built at Caesars
Palace in Las Vegas especially for CELINE DION, who
has signed a three-year contract to perform five nights
a week at the hotel casino. The deal, which will pay
the 33-year-old Canadian singer around 30 million,
is no more than she would earn from a 40-date world
tour but it allows her to remain at home to care for
her new child, born in January. The promoters expect
to bring in as much as 200 million from ticket sales
over the term of the contract, which begins in 2003.
Dion will be prohibited from perfoming in any other
concerts during the three years she is at Caesars
house-music pioneer PAUL OAKENFOLD has provided the
music for the new JOHN TRAVOLTA hi-tech spy thriller
Swordfish. ``I've added electronic music with traditional
score, merging both sounds so musically, it's going
to be quite `out there' for a big Hollywood picture,''
he tells the Los Angeles Times.
KINGSLEY was not inclined to do another Holocaust-related
project when he was approached to play the part of
Anne Frank's father Otto in the two-part television
mini-series Anne Frank. Aft er Schindler's List and
Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story, another
one seemed simply ``much too painful'', he said during
promotional interviews. But he was eventually convinced
by the ``extreme maturity, honesty and passion'' of
the project. ``I walked on to the set and saw a group
of orphans with yellow stars on and there was no preparation
needed,'' he said. ``My heart had already changed
beats.'' The Cartwright family will be riding the
ranges of the Ponderosa again when the long-running
western drama Bonanza returns to television this autumn.
Called Ponderosa, the new series will revolve around
Ben Cartwright's early years as a widower raising
three sons on a ranch in the Nevada wilds. No actors
have yet been named to take over the roles originally
played by LORNE GREENE (Ben), with PERNELL ROBERTS,
DAN BLOCKER and MICHAEL LANDON as his sons. The new
series will air in the US in the same 9pm time slot
on Sundays that the original had.
KATE BECKINSALE spent time in a military hospital
to learn the basics of nursing in preparation for
her role as a wartime nurse in the 100 million blockbuster
Pearl Harbour. ``When we were in Hawaii I was allowed
to give some shots to people, although not with drugs,
just saline,'' said the British actress. ``So, in
a scene where I have to perform inoculations there
were some poor naked volunteer bottoms that I pierced.
``By the end of the scene I'd become really confident,
but then the last one leaped into the air. They were
GIBSON is negotiating to star in Signs, the next supernatural
mystery from M NIGHT SHYAMALAN. The writer-director's
last two films, The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, grossed
more than 600 million worldwide and starred BRUCE
WILLIS. But he has sent his script for Signs to Gibson,
who is interested in taking the starring role, reports
Daily Variety. He would play a Pennsylvania farmer
who is baffled by the appearance of mysterious crop
circles on his land.
SPIELBERG has ordered his staff to begin developing
a sequel to Jurassic Park III, even before its summer
release. His spokesman, MARV LEVY, confirmed the film-maker
is anxious to continue the franchise, although he
will not direct any more of the series. Spielberg
directed the first two films and produced the third,
leaving the directing duties to JOE JOHNSTON. Sources
say he is pleased with Johnston's work on Jurassic
Park III and would like him to direct the fourth film.
Jurassic Park III stars WILLIAM H MACY, SAM NEILL,
LAURA DERN and TEA LEONI.
ROBERTS wanted the least glamourous role in America's
Sweethearts, the story of a celebrity couple trying
to hide the break-up of their marriage, according
to director JOE ROTH. He had offered her role of the
movie star but Roberts said she had already played
that part in Notting Hill. Instead, she took the role
of the star's sister, an overweight ugly duckling
totally dominated by her sister, played by CATHERINE
ZETA-JONES. ``Julia said she wanted to play the only
sane person in an insane world, which is what her
character is like, surrounded by all the other characters
in the story,'' Roth told the New York Times.
DUCHOVNY, JULIANNE MOORE and ORLANDO JONES have been
under incredible pressure on the set of their new
sci-fi comedy movie Evolution, director IVAN REITMAN
admits. ``It's a big, complicated movie with a lot
of special, big-time effects,'' Reitman explains.
``The goal has been to get it out there before it
was caught in the middle of heavy summer competition.''
Reitman is famous for the smash-hit Ghostbuster films
and promises Evolution will bring the Ghostbusters
humour and SFX to ``the next level''.
REDFORD is parting with two of his homes, a 6 million
beach house and adjoining lot in Malibu and his 10
million New York penthouse. The actor, who lives most
of the year at his Sundance property in Utah, is said
to be looking for another home in Malibu, reports
the Los Angeles Times.