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Weekly's Gone By:WEEK-42-01
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week 36-01
ShowBiz Weekly: news from the UK & US...

A bStar Wars fans have been handed a blow by director GEORGE LUCAS as he has decided against shooting another trio of the sci-fi films. The director told a French magazine he is dropping his plans to take the total number of the series up to nine and calling it a day when Episode 3 of the prequel trilogy is complete. He told Tele 7 Jour: ``I will totally give up the Star Wars saga after Episode 3, which will be released in 2005. I want to switch to something else after that.'' But there was good news for Indiana Jones fans, when the veteran director said there was hope he would get back together with HARRISON FORD and STEVEN SPIELBERG for the whip-wielding archaeologist's fourth outing. ``I don't know how I can manage to find time for Indy before 2006,'' he said. ``Steven and Harrison agreed a new adventure but due to other projects, we are very busy. ``The most difficult thing will be to block out our schedules for a whole year to focus only on Indiana Jones 4. Anyway, all hope is not lost for a new Indiana Jones.''

Oscar-winner JULIA ROBERTS is to team up again with director STEVEN SODERBERGH, with whom she won her golden statuette for Erin Brockovich. The actress and the director are to work on Miramax film How To Survive a Hotel Room Fire, which studio bosses are calling ``an unofficial sequel of sorts'' to Soderbergh's 1989 debut film, Sex, Lies, and Videotape. It is the third time the two have worked together. Soderbergh was in charge of Ocean's Eleven, the upcoming remake of the Rat Pack classic, which will star GEORGE CLOONEY and BRAD PITT in an A-list ensemble outing. How To Survive a Hotel Room Fire will also star X-Files actor DAVID DUCHOVNY and Frasier's DAVID HYDE PIERCE, the Internet Movie Database reported.

MEG RYAN will make her next career move in the ring when she stars as a gritty boxing manager in a big-screen version of a real-life story. Ryan will play JACKIE KALLEN, a female boxing manager in the tough city of Detroit who rose to the top of her profession and coached fighters including middleweight champion JAMES TONEY. Studio Paramount has worked on the project for five years and filming will begin in November, with CHARLES DUTTON getting his first taste of life behind the camera as he swaps from actor to director, reported. Ryan's next appearance in cinemas will be in romantic comedy Kate and Leopold, where she will appear alongside Australian star of Swordfish, HUGH JACKMAN.

Rapper LL COOL J is set to swap the hood for the set when he appears in a thriller about the FBI's real-life Crackers. The rap star is in talks to play the lead role in Mindhunters, about seven new recruits to the elite FBI unit which tracks serial killers. In the film, the new recruits' training on a remote island is cut short as it emerges a real-life killer is in their midst. The film is being directed by RENNY HARLIN, who was behind the camera in LL Cool J's 1999 Hollywood outing, Deep Blue Sea.

Want to own a piece of rock history? PAUL SIMON's guitar is going on sale in an internet auction - the latest change of hands in its chequered history. The instrument was given to its current owner, TODD FISHER, by his sister CARRIE FISHER when her marriage to Simon ended. And the letter the Star Wars actress wrote to her brother is part of the package on sale at, with prices starting at 2,100. ``Simon left this guitar at my house when we were married, and as far as know it is the only alimony I ever received,'' she wrote.

STEVEN SPIELBERG's studio DreamWorks has announced it has bought the rights to remake the classic 50s film Forbidden Planet. Titanic director JAMES CAMERON had expressed interest in a remake, but now the film, set on the planet Altair-4 in 2020, will be overseen by Spielberg, Daily Variety reported. The original Forbidden Planet starred Naked Gun actor LESLIE NIELSEN, along with Hollywood legend ANNE FRANCIS and the late WALTER PIDGEON. The new version will use cutting-edge special effects to retell the original story, which was based loosely on Shakespeare's The Tempest.

MEL GIBSON is to team up with Oscar-nominee JOAQUIN PHOENIX for Signs, a supernatural thriller about crop circles. The Disney film is due to begin filming in the American state of Pennsylvania next month and revolves around the mystery appearance of 500ft crop circles at a family farm. Phoenix, who won an Oscar nomination for his part alongside RUSSELL CROWE in Gladiator, replaced actor MARK RUFFALO, who had to pull out as he recovers from an operation. Signs is being produced by film-makers FRANK MARSHALL, KATHLEEN KENNEDY and SAM MERCER, the people behind hits The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. And it has already made its writer M NIGHT SHYAMALAN a millionaire. When Disney bosses saw his finished script they made him a multi-million dollar offer to keep him with the studio.

PAUL McCARTNEY and PAMELA ANDERSON are to share a stage on Saturday night when they host animal rights lobby group's PETA annual awards. The Beatle and the Baywatch babe will team up with actor ALEC BALDWIN at the New York event, which is also marking the American-based group's 21st anniversary. And South African actress CHARLIZE THERON and CHRISSIE HYNDE of the Pretenders will be honoured with awards for their work for the organisation.

British actress KATE BEC KINSALE is in talks about joining the cast of independent film Laurel Canyon. The film, directed by LISA CHOLODENKO is about a free-spirited record producer whose son graduates from prestigious Harvard Medical School with his upper-class girlfriend, who Beckinsale is set to play. The record producer is to be played by FRANCES McDORMAND, who appeared in Almost Famous and Wonder Boys, while American Psycho star CHRISTIAN BALE is said to be seeking the role of her son, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

BRAD PITT is the star Americans would most like to have cloned, according to a new survey, with JENNIFER LOPEZ the top female choice. Pitt was followed on the list by ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER and MEL GIBSON, with Lopez at number four and CATHERINE ZETA JONES and JULIA ROBERTS behind her. But there was bad news for Jones, as husband MICHAEL DOUGLAS did not make the top 20, while age proved no barrier for SEAN CONNERY, who came in at 13, ahead of his James Bond successor PIERCE BROSNAN. Also making the list were JOHN TRAVOLTA (eighth), BRITNEY SPEARS (10th), TOM CRUISE (11th), BEN AFFLECK (12th) and NICOLE KIDMAN (18th). When the results were broken down, Pitt was the top choice for women - but came in at number 11 on the men's list, while Lopez has some female fans, taking 12th place in the women's preferences.

Eighties pop star and club DJ BOY GEORGE is preparing to make a comeback on the London stage, but this time as a writer and producer. He is working on a show called Taboo, a semi-autobiographical rags-to-riches tale of a small-town boy making it on the international pop scene. The singer had tried to get this story told in a movie version of his autobiography, called Take It Like A Man. But New Line Cinema, he complained, kept sanitising the story until there was nothing left to make it to the screen. The 40-year-old George says he wants whoev er plays him in a movie or stage version to be ``younger, thinner and more beautiful''.

Grease is back. The film that starred JOHN TRAVOLTA and OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN is to have a sequel on American television. The TV movie will be set in 1979, 20 years after the original film, and will include some new characters - the children of some of the main players in the 1978 hit. DIDI CONN, who played dropout beauty queen Frenchy in the original, will be back in the TV musical and told Daily Variety: ``Because it takes place in 1979, we'll get to see the kids go through the late 70s version of our wild days. We learn about the original characters through the kids.'' JIM JACOBS, the author of the original Grease musical, said it was about firsts - first car, first kiss - and the energy that accompanies them. ``That's the Grease spirit, and that's what we're exploring 20 years later.'' The rest of the cast has still to be decided, but the producers want to restrict auditions to people who have already played a part in the original film or one of the many on-stage versions of the musical. ``That opens us up to half of Hollywood,'' said Conn.

BRAD PITT and BENICIO DEL TORO are set to star in a film version of a true-life story which lifts the lid on the seamy side of restaurant life in New York. Chef ANTHONY BOURDAIN wrote Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly after a cooking career which had a spicy sideline in sex, drink and drugs and it is now being turned into a film. ``People say Brad Pitt is supposed to be attached to the movie,'' he told the New York Post. ``And I'd love it if Benicio was in it. I'm a huge fan of his.'' The film of the best-selling book will be directed by DAVID FINCHER, who directed Pitt in Fight Club.

TIM ROTH, who played an undercover gangster in QUENTIN TARANTINO's cult film Reservoir Dogs, has told how he was turned into a 10-inch doll to mark the 10th an niversary of the movie. Roth, who played Mr Orange, insisted his doll did not come armed - despite the violent content of the film - along with STEVE BUSCEMI, who was Mr Pink. But the miniature versions of HARVEY KEITEL (Mr White), MICHAEL MARSDEN (Mr Blond) and CHRIS PENN (Nice Guy Eddie) come with tiny handguns. Roth told the website: ``They sent me one and I stuck it on the shelf somewhere in my office. And I actually haven't really looked at it. People say it doesn't look like me.''

The BEASTIE BOYS have been forced to close the doors at their record label Grand Royal after losses mounted as the music industry in America slumps. The band had been one of the first to form an independent label but was left with no choice but to end the project. Beastie Boy MIKE DIAMOND told the Hollywood Reporter: ``This is one of the most difficult decisions we've had to make. ``Our intentions were always simply to create a home for exciting music and the people who were passionate about it. It really sucks that we can't continue to do that.''

Actress GEENA DAVIS has married a surgeon 15 years her junior. The 45-year-old Long Kiss Goodnight star tied the knot with DR REZA JARRAHY at a ceremony on Long Island, near New York, watched by friends and family, Entertainment Tonight reported. The latest influx of new blood comes after the departure of LUCY LIU, who played Wing Loo, and JAMES LeGROS.

Hollywood bosses are celebrating the end of the American summer after it proved to be a box-office record breaker - despite a series of flops. Cinema goers paid out just over three billion dollars - breaking the previous record in 1999 of just under three billion dollars. The record-breaking figure came despite a series of surefire blockbusters which failed to captivate fans, including BEN AFFLECK's Pearl Harbor, STEPHEN SPIELBERG's AI, which starred JUDE LAW, and JOHN TRAVOLTA's Swordfish. The biggest success of the summer in America was animation Shrek, which proved a 200 million-dollar hit for makers DreamWorks and included the voices of CAMERON DIAZ, MIKE MYERS, EDDIE MURPHY and JOHN LITHGOW.

Singer GLORIA ESTEFAN and her producer husband EMILIO are to boycott the Latin Grammy Awards, the Spanish-language version of the leading American music prizes. The couple pulled out with just two weeks to go after organisers moved the awards from their native city of Miami to Los Angeles amid security concerns that Cuban emigrant protesters would target the show. ``The only reason we were participating in the Grammys this year is because it was a dream for us that it would be in our city that we love,'' Estefan told the Miami Herald. The Estefans are the leading couple of the Latino singing world in America. Last year Gloria performed and presented an award at the show, while her husband was nominated for six awards. This year the couple will have to watch television to see if Emilio, who produced Miami Sound Machine, the band that made Gloria's name, has won in any of the three categories he is nominated for. The move had one consolation - the change in venue allowed JENNIFER LOPEZ to take part. She had turned down the chance to perform in Miami because of her busy schedule.

It's the latest fashion in America. Pay a lot of cash to a sporting stadium's owners and your company can put its name on it. Now a chat show host is hoping to get in on the act by having his old university name its new American football stadium after him. DAVID LETTERMAN, who hosts a late-night television show, wants to see the David Letterman Stadium at Ball State University in Indiana - but is unwilling to stump up the cash. ``Each and every night, especially during football season, I'm giving them a million dollars in free exposure,'' he said.

A casting search is on for a teenage actor to star in yet another Tarzan adventure. This time the jungle hero will be the focus of a television series in which a 17-year-old Tarzan is sent to live with his aunt in New York after being seriously wounded by poachers. There the teen Tarzan ``becomes the protector of the ultimate urban jungle'', according to a spokesman for Warner Bros which is developing the series. EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS' Tarzan character is set to turn 90 next year, having first appeared in short story form in 1912 and subsequently featured in 88 films.

Oscar-winner RUSSELL CROWE has been taking his prized statuette on tour. The Gladiator star has gone on the road with his band, Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts, across America, and in Texas was asked by banner-waving fans: ``Is that an Oscar in your pocket, or are you just glad to see us?'' Minutes later he waved the best actor award in front of the crowd to cheers. ``I asked one of the guys in the crew to drop what he was doing, run back to the hotel and see if he could find the Oscar amongst the debris and, uh, he did,'' he told People magazine. The star will not meet one request from audiences at his shows, however. When a New York fan shouted at him to remove his shirt, he refused a nd said: ``This is a band. It's not Chippendales.''

DAVID BOWIE is working with hip-hop mogul PUFF DADDY on a remake of his song, This Is Not America, for a film starring DENZEL WASHINGTON and ETHAN HAWKE. The new version will be called American Dream and will be part of the soundtrack to Training Day, a movie about a new policeman on his first day in Los Angeles police's drugs squad. Bowie would not work on the song until he saw the film - but once he did he was sold and got together with Puff Daddy, real name Sean Combs, to produce the new version. Combs told APTV the song has ``a techno, hip-hop funk-type feel'' with Bowie bringing in some soul-rock.

Actress ANNE HECHE has married the cameraman she left her lover ELLEN DeGENERES for. The 32-year-old actress had been seen with DeGeneres, who came out on her hit sitcom Ellen, at a series of Hollywood events. But she fell for COLEMAN LAFFOON as they worked together on a documentary about her ex-lover. The couple married at a family ceremony in Los Angeles, but are postponing a honeymoon until Heche has finished a book tour promoting her autobiography, her publicist told Fox News.

ANGELINA JOLIE's husband BILLY BOB THORNTON is preparing to take his new country music album on the road with a tour of America. The actor and director releases Private Radio at the end of the month and will then set off on a 10-date tour of the main American cities, with a backing band in tow. ``I want this to be an experience the way shows used to be,'' he told USA Today. ``Those concerts were happenings, and that's what we're trying to do with these dates - bring back that feeling of something musical going on.'' His Tomb Raider star wife may fit the gigs into her schedule ``if she doesn't have commitments'' said Thornton's spokeswoman who added: ``She's a big fan of the music.''

GWYNETH PALTROW's next big film will literally be big - as the actress wore a fat suit to play the 21-stone lead role of Shallow Hal. But the Shakespeare in Love Star drew the line at the sterling silver earrings which had been bought for her character, a source told Women's Wear Daily. The actress told stylists she had to have a minimum of 14-carat gold in her ears, forcing them to commission specially designed jewellery where only gold touches her skin.

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