Fresh off his Emmy win for the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, Tom Hanks is already thinking ahead. Hanks will first play a train conductor in the Robert Zemeckis-directed pic Polar Express in what Variety describes as "the most CGI-ambitious holiday film since Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas." The Castle Rock project centers on a boy whose belief in Santa Claus results in a fantasy trip to the North Pole aboard a magical train. The film is slated for release for the 2004 holiday season. Afterwards, Hanks will star in the Coen brothers-helmed Ladykillers, a remake of the 1955 comedy that starred Alec Guiness and Peter Sellers. The film is about an old landlady who unknowingly rents rooms to a group of thieves looking for a hideout.
After one of his fans was killed by a drunk driver outside a radio station in Los Angeles, singer Justin Timberlake has decided to tackle the issue. According to Reuters, Timberlake will write and produce a public service radio and TV spot on behalf of Recording Artists, Actors and Athletes Against Drunk Driving (RADD) to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving among young people.
This is not about space. Lance Bass' production company, A Happy Place, has optioned Gordon Korman's kids book Nose Pickers From Outer Space--OK, so it is about space--for Grease director Randal Kleiser, Variety reports. The book is part of a series about an alien who attempts to save the earth from destruction by impersonating a fourth-grade exchange student. The alien race carries computers in their noses. Bass would likely play one of the nose pickers.
Owen Wilson will play Hutch to Ben Stiller's Starsky in the action comedy Starsky & Hutch, set for a February start, Variety reports. The movie is based on the popular television show Starsky & Hutch, which ran from 1975-1979, and originally starred Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul. Snoop Dogg also stars in the role of Huggy Bear.
Def Jam Records is teaming up with Paramount Pictures and MTV Films to produce a military comedy for Redman and Method Man. According to Variety, the film is a fish-out-of-water story that follows the duo's misadventures after they join the military and embark on a covert overseas campaign. Redman and Method Man have been on a roll following last year's How High. The two will star in New Line's upcoming urban comedy Ghetto, Inc. and will play drug cops in an untitled comedy for Universal.
Two men who allegedly paid street people to fight each other as part of the Internet video sensation Bumfights were arrested in San Diego, Reuters reports. Zachary Bubeck and Ryan Edward McPherson were charged with conspiracy, solicitation of a felony crime and illegally paying people to fight. The arrests followed a three-month probe into the tapes, which Bumfights producers claim to have sold more than 300,000 of over the Internet for $19.99 apiece. "Bumfights, Vol 1" is touted by its producers as "the fastest-selling independent video" featuring "drunks" and "crackheads." The tape shows bedraggled men engaging in fistfights and acts of self-abuse in exchange for cash, food, liquor and hotel rooms. They were warned not to tell authorities about their compensation.
The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that AOL Time Warner and the Walt Disney Co. are in talks to merge CNN with ABC News to create "a stand-alone news powerhouse." But CNN News Group Chairman and Chief Executive Walter Isaacson told staff in an internal memo obtained by Reuters Tuesday that while talks have periodically occurred between CNN and other news groups, no deal was in the works. "The idea is intriguing and we expect that these talks will pick up again from time to time," Isaacson said, but added, "at this time, CNN is not close to making a deal."
The sisters of Mexican singer/actress Thalia were reportedly ambushed and possibly kidnapped after leaving a Mexico City theater, The Associated Press reports. Family members have refused to file a police report, a common occurrence in Mexico because relatives often fear officials may be involved. Thalia married Tommy Mottola--head of Sony Music and the former husband of singer Mariah Carey--in December 2000.
German supermodel Claudia Schiffer is expecting her first child with her husband of three months, British producer Matthew Vaughn. According to Reuters, a spokeswoman for Schiffer said Monday, "We can confirm she is pregnant and has got through the first trimester." The couple married on May 25 in a lavish English country wedding.
Academy Award-winning actress Jodie Foster will receive the outstanding achievement in acting award from the Hollywood Film Festival. Foster will be honored along with Motion Picture Association president Jack Valenti, director Martin Scorsese, screenwriter Robert Towne, producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, composer Marc Shaiman, editor Pietro Scalia, production designer Harold Michelson and casting director Marcia Ross. The Hollywood Movie Awards Gala Ceremony will be held on Oct. 7.
Director John Lee Hancock (The Rookie) is near a deal to helm the historical epic The Alamo, Variety reports. Hancock would replace director Ron Howard, who bailed on the project after the studio had difficulty jump starting production. It also looks as though Russell Crowe, who was to star in the role of Sam Houston, will also exit from the project. Disney had an option on Hancock's next film and has been offering him everything in its arsenal. Now it looks as though Hancock will be landing the studio's biggest film.
Jack Nicholson is in negotiations to star in an untitled comedy for Sony Pictures written by Nancy Meyers (What Women Want), who is also set to direct. According to Variety, the film is about an older man who falls for the mother of his young girlfriend.
Paralegal Erin Brockovich, who inspired Steven Soderbergh's dramatic comedy Erin Brockovich, will host a reality-drama series titled Final Justice for the Lifetime TV cable channel. The show will present true accounts of real-life women who encounter injustice and take on the system, Variety reports.
'N Sync singer Lance Bass wants to turn three popular comic strips into a TV series through his California-based production company A Happy Place Prods., Variety reports. The strips include Glenn McCoy's The Duplex, Mark Tatulli's Heart of the City and Bill Hinds' Cleats.
A Jamaican court has issued an arrest warrant for American rapper Ja Rule for failing to appear on charges of using profanity during the country's Reggae Sumfest last year. According to The Associated Press, Ja Rule was in Jamaica this weekend to perform at the same festival and was served with a summons to appear in court Monday. However, Ja Rule apparently left the island Sunday. Judge Wilson Smith ordered his arrest warrant when the rapper, whose real name is Jeff Atkins, failed to appear. If convicted, he faces a maximum charge of...$20.
Winona Ryder is allegedly being wooed by the producers of the hit Broadway show Urinetown to join the cast, replacing Tony nominee Spencer Kayden, NYPost.com reports. Producers, however, might be surprised to hear it. A spokesman for the show said, "This is the first we've heard of it." Still, all the contracts for the Urinetown players are up at the end of August, and one production source told NYPost.com, "That's when the producers are going to start putting names into the show."
Pamela Anderson might be heading for the London stage--joining those other famed blondes Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. Anderson's angling to star in a revival of the 1950s hit musical The Girl Can't Help It, scheduled to go up later this year. Jayne Mansfield starred in the 1956 movie version.
A cursed palazzo in Venice, Italy? Sounds about right for the famously neurotic Woody Allen. Reuters reports the director is interested in buying a 15th-century house on the Grand Canal called Palazzo Dario, which apparently has seen its previous owners meeting dark and often sinister ends. Creepy.
Road Trip director Todd Phillips has signed a three-year first-look deal with Dimension and Miramax, making him the Weinsteins' "go-to guy for comedies," Variety reports. Phillips' next project will be directing a comedic film based on the television show Starsky and Hutch with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Thank goodness, it's a comedy.
And now, more on Miramax. The studio is jumping on the computer-animated bandwagon and is developing a feature film for kids revolving around Lego Co.'s Bionicle line of action figures known as Toa, heroes who collect legendary artifacts and defeat an evil ruler. Miramax is shooting for a 2004 release.
Shaq wants to produce. L.A. Lakers basketball star Shaquille O'Neal is pitching to networks a one-hour drama about the friendship between two basketball players, Variety reports. O'Neal plans to executive produce with occasional guest appearances. So far all his shots at getting it made have been air balls.
The Who bassist John Entwistle, who was found dead of an apparent heart attack June 27 in a Las Vegas hotel room, was laid to rest Wednesday in rural England. The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, frontman Roger Daltrey and drummer Kenny Jones all attended the funeral.
The only thing bigger than the show itself is the bevy of parties that follow the Academy Awards.
Traditionally, the biggest of them all is Vanity Fair's after-party. OK, so Vanity Fair's party (held at Morton's) unintentionally went dark early due to a power outage at 1:30 a.m., but that doesn't mean the stars weren't there.
Multi-Oscar winner Tom Hanks held a hushed meeting with the highly regarded auteur and actor Ed Burns; hunky Mel Gibson held court with newswoman Diane Sawyer; Oprah Winfrey conversed with fellow high-powered female exec Sherry Lansing (Paramount's chairman); and George Lucas admired the fiery Nicole Kidman, Variety reports.
Elton John was rocking at his own party just down the street from Morton's at Moomba, which was also a benefit for AIDS research and co-sponsored by InStyle magazine.
Denzel Washington, the newly minted Best Actor winner, joined Kevin Spacey, the Backstreet Boys, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Eric McCormack, Melissa Joan Hart, Jane Kaczmarek and Bradley Whitford in raising money for John's pet cause.
DreamWorks' Michael De Luca held a high-wattage party with agent Patrick Whitesell not so far from Hollywood's maddening crowd, in Hollywood Hills. Attendees included Ben Stiller and Tobey Maguire (presenters from the evening's Oscars), actors Cuba Gooding Jr., Ray Liotta, Patricia Arquette, Chris Kattan and Neve Campbell, as well as Janet Jackson, Tyra Banks, Sean Combs and Jay-Z.
There were yet more parties Oscar night. Universal, DreamWorks and USA Films collaborated on the festivities at Renaissance Hollywood Hotel; the Night of the 100 Stars gala was housed at the swank Beverly Hills Hotel; and New Line Cinema held its bash at Maple Drive.
The Writers Guild of America announced their list of nominees for their annual film awards Thursday, six days before the coveted Oscar nominations.
The WGA nominees for best original screenplay include Gosford Park, written by Julian Fellowes, Monster's Ball, written by Milo Addica and Will Rokosand, and The Royal Tenenbaums, written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson.
Joel and Ethan Coen, who previously won a WGA Award for Fargo in 1996, and were nominated last year for O Brother, Where Art Thou, were again nominated for The Man Who Wasn't There.
Australians Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce, who were also nominated for the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award for direction, were nominated for the musical Moulin Rouge.
Nominees for best adapted screenplay include A Beautiful Mind, written by Akiva Goldsman, Black Hawk Down, by Ken Nolan, Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies and Richard Curtis, and Ghost World, written by Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff.
Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson were nominated for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which was also nominated for a DGA Award for direction.
All films released in 2001 under the jurisdiction of the Writers Guild of America are eligible for Writers Guild Awards. The nominations were chosen from 187 films, 111 in the original screenplay category and 76 in the adapted screenplay category.
Oscar favorites In the Bedroom and Memento were ineligible for this year's Writers Guild awards because their writers were not members of the Guild when the screenplays were written.
The 54th Annual Writers Guild Awards will take place Saturday, March 2, 2002, simultaneously in Los Angeles (Beverly Hilton Hotel) and New York (Pierre Hotel).
Funny guy Adam Sandler has displayed a certain amount of anger in his past films, once yelling at a golf ball, "Are you too good for your home?" when it refused to go in the hole in Happy Gilmore. Jack Nicholson has played the epitome of an angry man in just about every role he's ever had, the crazy, axe-waving lunatic that he is.
Now they are starring together in Revolution Studios' film Anger Management. Where's the casting director? I want to shake his hand.
The story revolves around Sandler, who is wrongly sentenced to an anger-management program and has his life turned upside-down by the hyper-aggressive instructor (Nicholson) who rarely practices what he preaches. Well, that's just about perfect. This is gonna be a must-see movie on my list.
Filming begins mid-March, under the helm of director Peter Segal (Nutty Professor II: The Klumps).
It's a married thing, times two
It's sweet when a young married couple decides to work together. Stupid, but sweet.
Young marrieds Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe are attached to a Universal Pictures project in development called Family Trust.
Yes, Ms. Boys Don't Cry Oscar-winner and her husband Chad, brother of Rob and second-tier television actor, are teaming up in their first film together to bring us the heartwarming story of a young, self-made Jewish finance executive (Swank) and a preppie playboy (Lowe), and how they end up guardians of a precocious four-year-old.
Here's the catch: they proceed to fall in love without realizing it. Dammit, I hate that when that happens--sneaking up on a person like that.
I've got another one for you. Cutesy couple Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon, both pretty hot right now in the Hollywood circuit, are in development with Working Title Films on their first film called Flying Smiths.
The premise is completely outrageous: an ambitious trapeze artist's dreams are crushed when a tiger scratches out one of his eyes (ouch). Said trapeze artist then travels to Italy to obtain a glass eye (Italy is good for glass eyes, I guess) but is thwarted again when a small child swallows the perfect "eye". The mother of said child and the trapeze artist eventually fall in love.
Of course they fall in love. Why else make the movie?
Why, indeed. I'm betting this one won't ever get made--but I'll be the first in line to see it if they do; it sounds right up my alley.
Bond's newest foe
Watch out, Mr. Bond. There's a new enemy to face--literally and figuratively. Actor Rick Yune, hot off his turn in last summer's sleeper hit The Fast and the Furious, will be taking on the reins as the newest villain in MGM's latest James Bond installment, with Pierce Brosnan once again playing 007.
Even though the actual plotline is being kept tightly under wraps, we know that Yune will star as a North Korean general named Zao, who creates a device enabling facial mutation. I was wondering when they were going to use the whole "facial mutation" thing in a movie. It's about time.
In using the device on himself, however, the experiment goes awry and leaves Yune half-changed. Yuck. Hope he had warranty on it. Apparently, the handsome actor will have to undergo major makeup and prosthetic use to create the character, but will he get a cat? That's what I want to know.
From a nobody to a somebody?
Actress Ellen Pompeo (In the Weeds) has been pegged for not one, but two high profile DreamWorks projects.
First, she'll star opposite Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell in Old School about three men who attempt to recapture their college days. Pompeo plays Wilson's lifelong love interest.
Second, she is in talks for a role in Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks about Frank Abagnale Jr., the youngest man to be on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List. Pompeo would play Marci, a flight attendant to whom Frank loses his virginity. Lucky her.
O.K., who is Ellen Pompeo again? Apparently, she's someone whose about to be a big name soon enough.
New Zealander Lee Tamahori will direct the 20th film in the venerable James Bond series.
Pierce Brosnan will assume the cloak of super spy 007 in front of the camera for the fourth time, when filming begins in early 2002.
Franchise producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson hope to mark the 40th anniversary of Bond's birth with the release of the newest Bond film in late 2002. Dr. No, starring Sean Connery, debuted in 1962.
Tamahori has directed box office successes (Along Came a Spider) and A-list Hollywood actors (Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins in The Edge) before, but was clearly a dark horse who only emerged last week as the frontrunner.
Tamahori takes the helm from Michael Apted, who directed installment No. 19, The World Is Not Enough. There's a lot of pressure on Tamahori to succeed, as the last three Bond films have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide combined.
The next James Bond installment is to begin filming in January--with Pierce Brosnan as Agent 007, contrary to rumors that have been circulating that unknown Scottish actor Gerard Butler would be taking over the role.
"It just isn't true, and I wish these rumors would stop. We have been inundated with calls all week,'' a spokeswoman Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, producers of the James Bond franchise, told Reuters.
Monday's Scottish Daily News quoted Butler as confirming the rumors.
Brosnan, 48, has appeared in the three latest Bond thrillers, The World Is Not Enough, Tomorrow Never Dies and Goldeneye, and will start filming the latest, as-yet-untitled flick at London's Pine Woods Studio in early 2002.