Can audiences expect a Ron Howard/Tom Cruise reunion? Maybe. Daily Variety reports today that Howard is in negotiations to helm the adaptation of "A Beautiful Mind," a biography on Nobel Prize winner John Forbes Nash Jr. who was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.
Howard has just finished directing Jim Carrey in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and, if all goes well, will start shooting "A Beautiful Mind" at the end of the year.
The question is whether Cruise, who worked with Howard in "Far and Away," will commit to the project, as well. He's said to be interested in playing Nash.
COLUMBINE REVISITED? Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst will turn movie director in "Runt," a story that follows an ostracized high schooler who takes arms against his rivals. The pro-skateboarder-turned-music mogul will be mentored by director David Fincher ("Seven," "Fight Club") for his feature debut.
BRIT INVASION: Hugh Grant and Colin Firth have confirmed their participation in "Bridget Jones’ Diary" as romantic rivals vying for the attention of Renee Zellweger. The film is slated to go into production this month.
They are some of the most-asked questions at donut shops around the world: (1) Who will go home with Oscar?; (2) What new and probing insights will the most important social commentators of our time, Joan and Melissa Rivers, have to say about the nominees' clothes? (3) Why is a babe like Catherine Zeta-Jones hanging around with that old guy? And, (4) What is Ricky Martin's sexual orientation, and how does it affect us?
Ricky Martin At least some of those questions -- and more -- will be answered this week on TV. And just so you don't have to sit through all of it just to find out about the really important stuff, here's a handy little guide:
-- Live from the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium, it's the 72nd Annual Academy Awards (8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST, Sunday, ABC)! In case you haven't heard of this show, it's kind of like the Golden Globes. What to watch for? How will Robin Williams perform the expletive-laden Best Song nominee "Blame Canada" (from "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut")? Our prediction? We predict that we will go to a party and drink too much champagne so we won't notice how incredibly long this show is.
-- The annual Oscar night "Barbara Walters Special" (7 p.m. EST; immediately after the Academy Awards on the West Coast, Sunday, ABC) looks to be a good one this year. Interviewees Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are expecting, Mike Myers is a very funny man and Ricky Martin actually requested that Walters bring up the much-talked-about issue of "Is he or isn't he?" Our prediction? We will still be at a party drinking champagne and will probably get pretty upset at the whole Catherine Zeta-Jones issue because we really think we would have had a chance if it weren't for Michael Douglas.
-- If it's wacky Oscar-related commentary you're looking for, check out E!'s live pre-show coverage starting at 6 p.m. EST/3 p.m. PST, and featuring the ever-catty Joan and Melissa Rivers standing outside the Shrine and judging people by their covers like mean-spirited high school cheerleaders. Joan looks absolutely fabulous, by the way. Also on Oscar night, ABC unspools the "Politically Incorrect After-Party" at 12:05 a.m. EST/PST. Host Bill Maher will surely have a few choice words to say about some of the goings-on at the ceremony. Our prediction? We will have come to our senses, wished the Douglas family well and cried ourselves to sleep by this time.
-- Jennifer Love Hewitt is quite charming in the title role of "The Audrey Hepburn Story" (8 p.m. EST/PST, Monday, ABC). The made-for-TV movie is as light and breezy as its subject always seemed to be. Nothing groundbreaking or shocking here, but it's always so easy to like Audrey Hepburn, and this movie keeps the feeling going. All in all, not a bad night in front of the tube.
-- ABC has another mid-season replacement worth checking out when "Wonderland" premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. EST/PST. Created by actor Peter Berg, formerly Dr. Billy Kronk on CBS' "Chicago Hope," "Wonderland" is a brooding drama that's just a little different from the more-familiar police precincts and emergency rooms we're so used to seeing on TV. Martin Donovan and Michelle Forbes head a strong ensemble cast as husband and wife doctors in a New York City hospital's psychiatric ward. Our prediction? The show has drawn a tough slot, opposite NBC's "ER," but there might just be room for this one.
It's amazing how one hit pop song and an electronic gizmo that makes your voice sound like a robot can lead to global domination.
Forbes magazine released its annual "Celebrity 100" list Thursday, power-ranking the world's greatest actors, entertainers, athletes, authors and other notables according to how much moola they made last year and how much media attention they received making said moola. Most of the names in the Top 10 were no-brainers, given their recent successes: Julia Roberts is the world's No. 1 omnipotent celeb (with estimated 1999 earnings of $50 million), followed by people like George Lucas (No. 2 -- $400 mil), Oprah Winfrey (No. 3 -- $150 mil), Tom Hanks (No. 4 -- $71.5 mil), golfer Tiger Woods (No. 7 -- $47 mil) and Steven Spielberg (No. 10 -- $60 mil).
But then there's No. 9. One word: Cher.
According to the magazine, Cher only made a measly $40 million last year (peanuts compared to Lucas' league-leading $400 million haul). Cher's take presumably came from sales of her chart-topping "Believe" album, and from copies of her terribly thoughtful book, "The First Time," in which she observed that Jackie Kennedy was better looking than Mamie Eisenhower.
Perhaps based on the power of such ideas, Cher's Forbes "power rank" was higher than that of Spielberg, Bruce Willis (No. 11 --$54.5 mil), Jim Carrey (No. 19 -- $45.5 mil) and Tom Cruise (No. 20 -- $27 mil).
Although Cher's 1999 earnings were less than those of other celebs in the Top 10, Cher's rank was bolstered by the number of Web site hits, press clips, magazine covers and TV/radio stories she generated. All this from a woman whom Sonny Bono once said was so stupid, she thought the moon was the backside of the sun.
Here are some other notable story lines to emerge from the Forbes list:
BOY POWER: While most members of the "Celebrity 100" are well past puberty, the Backstreet Boys are representin' the teen crowd (even if they aren't exactly teens anymore themselves) at No. 8, with 1999 earnings of $60 million.
THE POWER OF THE PRINTED WORD: Most of the celebrities named by Forbes are of the short-attention-span variety (i.e., TV stars, music stars, movie stars and athletes). But lest you think that America doesn't read anymore, think again. Bestselling authors making the list include Stephen King (No. 14 -- $65 mil), John Grisham (No. 21 -- $36 mil), "Harry Potter" creator J.K. Rowling (No. 25), Dean Koontz (No. 53 -- $34 mil) and poet Maya Angelou (No. 81 -- $3.3 mil). Then again, most of these guys, save for Angelou, are makin' the big bucks off film rights.
WHO? So, we know who Michael Jordan (No. 5 -- $40 mil) and Harrison Ford (No. 15 -- $46.5 mil) are, but who the heck are Anna Kournikova (No. 58 -- $11 mil), Gerald Cassidy (No. 69 -- $18 mil), The Rock (No. 83 -- $3 mil), Reed Hundt (No. 89 -- $2 mil), Edgerrin James (No. 75 -- $15 mil), Jean-George Vongerichten (No. 91 -- $3 mil) and Jim Romenesko (No. 96 -- $60,000)? Answers: A tennis player, an artist, a pro wrestler, an ex-chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, a football running back, a chef and a Web site guy. (But we cheated and looked 'em up.)
FLASH IN THE POWER PAN? Somebody tell "Mambo No. 5" guy Lou Bega (No. 87) to savor the moment. He's not likely to be included in this list ever again. Of course, with a $6 million haul on the strength of one novelty hit, does he really need to be?
YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE PHOTOGENIC: These days, you can become a powerful celebrity even if you've got a face for radio -- or the Internet. That helps explain the lofty rankings of the likes of Howard Stern (No. 30 -- $18 mil), Rush Limbaugh (No. 40 -- $22 mil), Dr. Laura Schlessinger (No. 70 -- $13 mil), Dr. Joy Brown (No. 90 -- $2 mil) and Internet movie-rumor guru Harry Knowles (No. 95, with an estimated 1999 income of a whopping $100,000).
GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Taking a year off, quitting your hit sitcom or breaking up the band isn't healthy for your power ranking. Three celebrities who made the Forbes Top 10 just one year ago fell entirely off the 2000 edition of the "Celebrity 100" list. Notable MIAs include: Leonardo DiCaprio (No. 3 in 1999 with $37 million in earnings); Jerry Seinfeld (No. 4 in 1999, with $267 million); and ex-supergroup Spice Girls (No. 6 in 1999 with $49 million).
FORGOTTEN, BUT NOT GONE: Will someone please tell the Rolling Stones (No. 6 -- $50 mil), Mike Tyson (No. 17 -- $33 mil), surname-free Roseanne (No. 74 -- $8 mil), George and Barbara Bush (No. 76 -- $6 mil),and unfunnyman Don Imus (No. 77 -- $10 mil) to give it up?
HOW'D THEY DO THAT? What have Penn & Teller (No. 88), that early 1990's comedy/magician duo, been up to lately? Whatever it is, it's lucrative: They made $3 million last year.