Yes, yes, we know Halle Berry has shown her "guns" before. That's why millions of people went to see the pretty awful film Swordfish. However, we're talking real guns this time. She's in negotiations to join Ben Affleck (if he can stay off the booze) in Gigli, directed by Martin Brest for Revolution Studios. The premise of the film--I've talked about this one before, and it's still a doozy--centers on a lowly hit man (Affleck) who kidnaps the mentally challenged brother of a prominent district attorney. Berry will play a free-spirited gunslinger (please, is there any other kind?) sent in, ostensibly, to supervise the kidnapping but ends up partnering with the guy and going on the lam with him. Of course, through the process, he falls in love with her. Let's hope, through another strange and wild process, the title is somehow explained.
Down on the "Farm"
The newest hunk-o-rama in Hollywood, Colin Farrell, is set to star with Al Pacino in The Farm, a CIA thriller about an agent trainee (Farrell) who suspects his seasoned CIA instructor (Pacino) is a double agent. Production is to begin Nov. 1. OK, first, I'll talk about the movie, which sounds pretty average considering who is in it. But, sometimes, that's a good thing. What I really want to talk about is Irish-born Farrell. He made a big splash last year in the indie Tigerland and has been steadily rising in the ranks ever since. His most recent movie American Outlaws, where he plays outlaw Jesse James, opens in theaters this week, and he just finished wrapping Minority Report opposite Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg. For Farm, Farrell will receive a whooping $5 million, nearly double his usual asking price. And did I mention that he was damn cute? I did? OK, just checking.
Bound by "Rules
It's the gang from the WB, together once again. Well, at least parts of them. Jessica Biel (WB's 7th Heaven and the upcoming film Summer Catch) and James Van Der Beek (Dawson's Creek) will join Kip Pardue (Driven), Thomas Ian Nicholas (American Pie 2) and Shannyn Sossamon (A Knight's Tale) in the Lions Gate film The Rules of Attraction. The story, based on a novel by Bret Easton Ellis (Less Than Zero), is set at the height of Reagan's 1980s in a small, affluent, liberal arts college in New England. It follows three students as they sort out a romantic triangle and other such travails of--and this is Variety's description--the "self-consciously postmodern undergrad." Ah. This sounds suspiciously like another movie about three college students who have to sort out romantic problems. Anyone remember the 1994 Threesome with Lara Flynn Boyle, Stephen Baldwin and Josh Charles? Which was actually a pretty good movie. Well, Rules certainly sounds like it should be on the WB. And maybe not on the big screen. But, alas, I'm not the one running the show out there.
Jolie on "Border" patrol
If anyone is truly interested, the film Beyond Borders has had a long history of being on-again, off-again at Mandalay Pictures. Now it's on-again, with Angelina Jolie attached to star and Martin Campbell (Vertical Limit) to direct. It's a love story that takes place during the course of many years and set against the backdrop of humanitarian efforts worldwide. OK, so we don't know too much about the script so far, but I'm sure we will at some point. Here's the history lesson: In 1999, Kevin Costner and Catherine Zeta-Jones were attached to star, with Oliver Stone directing. But the actors had to drop out after awhile to do other stuff. Costner came back in the picture in the spring of 2000, with Meg Ryan as a possible costar. But Jolie wanted it and signed. Still, things were not moving very fast. Costner left for good in fall 2000 to be replaced by Ralph Fiennes. Then production halted at the beginning of the year, so Stone and Fiennes said so long. Jolie went on to do another project but said she was still interested if and when the film came to fruition. And here we are! Welcome to the wacky world of filmmaking.
Miramax has snagged the project My Baby's Mama after an intense bidding war last week. Bidding wars still happen? Remember that much talked about industry practice, where a script is sent to major studios on a Friday, with a lot of hype attached to it, and is frantically bid upon over the weekend by execs who just have to have it . Honestly, I thought that was a late '80s, '90s thing when the Joe Eszterhas' of the writing world ran things and demanded top dollar. Well, I guess I was wrong. Comedian Eddie Griffin's (Double Take) script, a cross between Three Men and a Baby and Soul Food, was bought by Miramax for Griffin to star along with John Leguizamo, LL Cool J and Lil' Kim. Apparently Miramax always had the upper hand in getting the project because of its alliances with several of the factions involved. But I wonder how much they paid for a script that seems less than spectacular.
Just call him "Sloppy Seconds" Frankenheimer
To be fair, the acclaimed director John Frankenheimer has made some action-packed and fascinating films in his career. Films such as the 1962 The Manchurian Candidate, 1966's Seconds and the 1977 Black Sunday. But lately he's been slipping, especially with last year's dismal Reindeer Games. And now he is set to direct the prequel to The Exorcist. What? We find out how the devil gets into little Reagan's attic? No, the story apparently revolves around what happened to Father Merrin during his missionary work in post-World War II Africa, where he first encounters the Big Red Horned One. One will remember Max Von Sydow's account in the original Exorcist, with brief flashbacks showing some poor African being possessed. Honestly, do we care? The most noteworthy part of this deal, however, is that Frankenheimer is once again following the footsteps of director William Friedkin. Most won't remember but Frankenheimer directed The French Connection II, a sequel to the original classic directed by Friedkin. Maybe those powers that be approached Friedkin about doing these sequels and he said, "Naw, I don't want to do it. But ask John. He'll go for it."
Grace is getting a new boyfriend.
Emmy-winning Woody Harrelson has signed on to do four episodes of the NBC hit sitcom "Will & Grace," playing the boyfriend of Grace (Debra Messing).
Everyone on the show is very excited about Harrelson joining the cast. "[We] here at "Will & Grace" had a woody over Woody," said series creator/executive producer David Kohan. "It feels like a real coup."
Harrelson will play a new resident of Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace's building, who at first antagonizes Grace but eventually forms a romantic attachment.
The role wasn't initially written for Harrelson because the producers held out little hope of landing him for the part. Now it is being tailored specifically for him, and writers are adding more sex appeal. "[Harrelson] can generate heat between himself and an actress without even trying," said Kohan. The story arc will air during the May sweep.
Harrelson has made some rare TV appearances since his days on "Cheers," doing guest spots on "Frasier," "Ellen" and "Spin
"ENOUGH" FOR LOPEZ & LEWIS: Juliette Lewis ("The Way of the Gun") is co-starring with Jennifer Lopez in Columbia Pictures' "Enough," directed by Michael Apted ("The World is Not Enough"). Principal photography is slated to start March 12.
The story is being described as a cross between "Sleeping with the Enemy" and "Double Jeopardy": A woman (Lopez) who marries the man of her dreams (Billy Campbell), only to see her life turn into a nightmare of domestic abuse. She tries to escape with her daughter, but eventually must take matters into her own hands to save her life and that of her child. Lewis plays the part of Lopez's best friend and confidant who has also been victimized by abuse.
Lewis recently finished shooting the independent feature "Claire's Hat" for Canadian producer Robert Lantos, and Lopez can currently be seen in the hit film "The Wedding Planner."
REESE GOES WILDE: "The Importance of Being Earnest," Oscar Wilde's brilliant comedy of errors, is getting another big-screen treatment, with Reese Witherspoon ("Little Nicky") in negotiations to star. The Miramax production starts shooting April 23 in London and has a budget of $15 million.
For the first time in her career, Witherspoon will be adopting a British accent in this 1890s period piece about mistaken identity in English high society. The film will also star Rupert Everett as Algernon, Colin Firth as Jack Worthing and Judi Dench as the Lady Bracknell.
LIGHTS…CAMERA…ACTION!: Directors Harold Ramis ("Bedazzled") and Wes Craven ("Scream") are both taking on new projects. Ramis will be directing the action comedy "Rule #3" for Fox 2000. In the film, an arrogant billionaire and firearms tycoon bullies a man he assumes is just an average Joe; unfortunately, the man turns out to be a hit man who teaches the tycoon a lesson. Sources say Sean Connery is being sought after to star. And in a completely different vein, horrormeister Craven has decided to take a stab at the classic Robert Louis Stevensen story "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," adding a few twists to the original tale. No stars are attached as yet.