It's a very light week in role call land. What a shame--there's not one sexy star I can talk about (trust me, this is a problem here at Hollywood.com). But I do have the freakish pop singer/superstar category covered. Honestly, what is wrong with Michael Jackson? Boy, I'd really like to go into it, but there's too much to talk about and I just don't have time. Let's focus on the casting choices he's made for his new video "You Rock My World" for now. He's snagged Marlon Brando (who replaces Robert De Niro), some of the cast from The Sopranos, Benicio Del Toro and Chris Tucker to play some parts, and I just have one question--what do you think Jackson did to entice talent like that? Maybe he's paying them buckets of money. Maybe they feel sorry for him. Nevertheless, Jackson, whose career is really taking a turn for the worse with spiraling record sales and little public interest, has decided to return to his glory days by producing this $30 million video, jam-packed with big names--basically making up for a pretty average pop tune none of the radio stations want to play. It's sad, really.
Director and special-effects aficionado James Cameron has decided to concentrate on comic books--and once again, water--for his next project. He will be developing a live-action version of the comic book Fathom, which follows a beautiful young girl named Aspen Matthews. Aspen is found on an abandoned yacht with no memory of her past. Don't you just hate that? You're on a yacht, you're having fun and then--wham! You forget everything. But I digress... The girl grows up, becomes an Olympic swimmer and a marine biologist. During her research she discovers not only a mysterious underwater race but her own water-based powers. This is right up Cameron's alley; he simply loves the water, doesn't he? With his films The Abyss and Titanic, he's getting a name for himself filming epic water adventures. He's even doing a series of underwater specials for ABC with the late Jacques Cousteau's son, Jean-Michel. Someday, I'll have to ask him what his fascination with the deep blue sea is.
Sammy Davis Jr. only wished he could have starred in the latest unbelievable script coming out of Hollywood. Take a gander at this: apparently, talent/literary house The Endeavor Agency has decided to get a little rat-happy. They are hawking a remake of the 1971 rodent-infested Willard written by Glen Morgan and writer-director James Wong. You remember Willard, don't you? That happy story about a socially persecuted young man who gets back at his co-workers with a blood-thirsty rat, starring Bruce Davison. Right. On Tuesday, the agency created a stir by sending the reworked spec script around town, in a cage--with rats. Now, tell me what studio executive is going to pass something like that up? DreamWorks principals Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg and Miramax co-chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein were among some of the recipients of the lovely "package." Where's the rat poison?
Michael Cimino is returning to the director's chair with a new project, Man's Fate, a drama set in Shanghai against the backdrop of the Chinese revolution. Based on French author Andre Malraux's novel La condition humaine (The Human Condition), the film follows several Europeans living in Shanghai and the emotional bonds they develop during the tragic turmoil of the onset of China's Communist regime. Cimino is looking at several A-list actors, including Johnny Depp, Daniel Day-Lewis, John Malkovich, Uma Thurman and French actor Alain Delon. Poor Cimino. His career started so big with the Academy Award-winning The Deer Hunter, but has been forever stamped with the ugly label of directing the classic textbook-case flop Heaven's Gate. He'll never be able to shrug this off, unless he directs another Oscar winner. Maybe Fate will be his ticket out of the Gate.
And in television...
Usually I stick with the movies, but this television role call caught my eye. Actress Juliette Lewis is going to make a guest appearance on ABC's Dharma & Greg, playing Jenna Elfman's childhood friend. Now, what the heck happened to Juliette Lewis? It used to be that when a movie actress started doing television, it meant their careers were going downhill. This isn't the case anymore, with the advent of cable and the quality of material being put on television. However, in Lewis' case, we may be looking at old times. If it were Friends or Fraiser, that would be one thing but Dharma & Greg? She came out like gangbusters when she started her career with Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives and Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers, and especially in her heart-wrenching performance in Martin Scorsese's Cape Fear. But then came The Evening Star and The Other Sister, and, well, you see where I'm going. Lewis on Dharma & Greg is just an interesting step on what still could be a promising career--if she got a better agent.
French film controversy
Ricky on stage
"Weakest Link" video game
Sharon Stone drops restraining order
Sharon Stone (The Quick and The Dead, Basic Instinct, The Muse) has dropped her request for a permanent restraining order against Italian visitor Agostino P'omato, according to reports by People magazine.
Stone was granted a temporary restraining order on March 19 to keep P'omato at least 100 yards away from her, her husband and their son. P'omato allegedly arrived at Stone's house in the Los Angeles area saying that he wanted to "take her and marry her."
P'omato's family convinced him to return to Italy, which prompted Stone to drop the request for a permanent restraining order, said her lawyer.
Redgrave honored at GLAAD media awards
Vanessa Redgrave received the Excellence in Media Award at Monday's 12th Annual Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards in New York.
Redgrave's daughter, actress Natasha Richardson, made the presentation. In a report filed by People, Redgrave told the attendees, "If Anne Heche can play a lesbian, so can I. I think I have done my part for heterosexuality." The award honors a member of the entertainment community who has made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.
Also at the ceremony, Kathleen Turner presented Liz Smith the Vito Russo Award, which honors a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered member of the entertainment or media community for their outstanding contribution in combating homophobia.
Other guests and presenters included: host Mo Gaffney, Joan Collins, Gina Gershon, Sharon Gless, Florence Henderson, Jill Henessey, Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Susan Lucci and Eden Riegal (All My Children), Lou Reed, and John Ritter.
Splittsville for Gary Oldman
Gary Oldman's (Hannibal, The Fifth Element, Lost in Space) wife Donya Fiorentino filed papers to end their marriage due to irreconcilable differences. The AP reports that the couple of four years separated on Friday, the same day the papers were filed.
The Oscar-nominated Oldman (Best Supporting Actor for last year's The Contender) and Fiorentino have two sons together, Gulliver and Charlie. Oldman has had two prior marriages, with Lesley Manville and Uma Thurman (Gattaca, Pulp Fiction, The Avengers). Oldman has a third son with Manville.
Director Michael Ritchie dies
Director Michael Ritchie (Smile, Downhill Racer, The Golden Child) is dead of prostate cancer at the age of 62, says the New York Times.
Ritchie was often unconventional, as evidenced by the Holly Hunter feature The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom, which aired on HBO in 1993. Ritchie also directed major flops, including The Island.
The last film Ritchie completed was last year's The Fantasticks.
French rape film sparks controversy upon arrival in U.S.
The controversial French film Baise-Moi (Rape Me) is set for release in New York and Los Angeles this June, reports Variety.
The film features two stars of the French adult film world, Raffaela Anderson and Karen Bach, and tells the tale of a prostitute and a rape victim who embark on a bloody, violent road trip. The film portrays a violent rape and its effect on the victim, who is spurred to acts of violence.
Censors, according to Variety, banned the film from mainstream movie theaters in France. In England, the film was screened only after the distributor cut 10 seconds of particularly objectionable footage.
The film is based on the novel of the same name, written by Virginie Despentes.
News blackout blankets resumption of WGA talks
No reporters, no cameras, no statements, no photo opportunities.
That is the "cone of silence" surrounding the negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the movie and TV alliance, as talks resumed at 2:30 p.m. yesterday.
Designed to keep negotiators focused on reaching an agreement, the blackout, according to Variety, allows for only a bare bones account at the end of the day. The arrangement takes the negotiations out of the public arena, where they have been since they began on January 22.
With the May 2 expiration of the current writers' deal, it is imperative that the two sides reach an accord as soon as possible. The last round of talks broke off on March 1, with the parties more than $100 million apart and a strike looming on the horizon.
Ricky's role call
It's curtains for singer Ricky Martin: the Latin heartthrob is in talks to star in Zorro, a stage production to premiere in London's West End, according to Britain's Sun tabloid. The musical, produced by Adam Kenwright, is also attracting singer Robbie Williams, who has expressed an interest in writing some of the show's lyrics.
Country crooners to wed
Two of Nashville's biggest stars--Lorrie Morgan and Sammy Kershaw --announced on Tuesday's Live with Regis and Kelly that they plan to get hitched. The couple has set a wedding date of Sept. 29. Morgan, 41, and Kershaw, 43, have both had previous marriages.
"Weakest Link" video game?
The latest game-show sensation to sweep America could invade stores later this year. According to Variety, British phenomenon The Weakest Link is being converted into a video game by Activision, Inc. The only catch: they're scrambling to get it produced before the hype surrounding the show dies down. Though typical video games take 18 months to produce, Activision is aiming for an October release.