Producer-director-top dog Steven Spielberg has a new title: Sir.
The helmer, whose works include the "Indiana Jones" franchise, "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan," is set to be knighted by Great Britain, Reuters reports.
Specifically, the 54-year-old Spielberg will receive the honorary Insignia of a Knight Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (um, of course) for his contributions to England’s film industry at a Jan. 29 ceremony at the British Embassy in Washington D.C.
"It’s an honorary knighthood because knighthood per se is just for British citizens," Spielberg spokesman Marvin Levy told Reuters.
"It’s an extraordinary honor," Levy continued. "He has great affection and respect for the British film industry and the British people. He has always enjoyed every moment he’s spent in the U.K. -- or anywhere where the British flag flies."
Spielberg has also been tapped to receive his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
KATE HUDSON WEDS?! Don’t have anything planned for New Year’s Eve? Might we suggest crashing Kate Hudson's wedding?
The New York Post is reporting that the "Almost Famous" starlet will allegedly tie the knot with Black Crowes rocker Chris Robinson on New Year’s Eve in Aspen, Colo.
According to the tab, Robinson proposed to the 21-year-old actress in August, and she's currently sporting a big rock.
Due to the holidays, our calls to Hudson’s people have yet to been returned.
YEAR OF THE FOX: Ex-"Spin City" star turned Parkinson’s disease activist Michael J. Fox has been named by US Weekly as its celebrity of the year, The Associated Press says.
The 39-year-old first made the announcement in November 1999 regarding his battle with Parkinson’s disease. He left the ABC sitcom in May and created the Michael J. Fox Foundation to combat the neurological disorder.
Jennifer Lopez was a winner and Elizabeth Hurley a presenter at Friday's VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards, but the real fun didn't start until after the high-fashion show was long over. Lopez, the first-ever Versace Award recipient for best, ahem, embodying the "energy and daring" of late designer Gianni Versace, partied with a bunch of pals at the library bar of New York's swanky Hudson Hotel on Friday night, the New York Daily News reports.
Keith Richards and Paul McCartney played pool with Designer of the Year recipient Stella McCartney, Paul's daughter. Kate Hudson played cutesy couple with Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson. Other partygoers included Moby, Sheryl Crow, Chris Rock, Liv Tyler, Lara Flynn Boyle, Christian Slater and fashion awards co-host Gisele Bundchen minus her main squeeze, Leonardo DiCaprio.
All was fine and dandy until 3 a.m., when Lopez and guests decided to spill out into the night air of the hotel garden. Hotel staff showed up and ushered the wild and crazy guests back into the bar after some hotel patrons (probably tourists) complained.
Meanwhile, supermodel turned actress Elizabeth Hurley turned heads of her own before and after the VH1/Vogue event.
MSNBC gossip columnist Jeannette Walls reports that Hurley arrived at the awards looking suspiciously disheveled with funnyman Denis Leary. Seems Hurley had smeared much of her Estee Lauder body glitter on the very married Leary's suit.
An "Access Hollywood" report Tuesday backed up Hurley's flustered arrival. As model-"Access" anchor Heidi Klum presented Hurley with a joke best dressed award -- a Barbie doll -- Hurley glared and sarcastically responded "thanks so much" before trying to make an exit.
Klum continued and asked Hurley if she was wearing any undergarments under her revealing dress. Hurley gave Klum a look of pure hatred before replying that it was none of her business. Icy!
On Saturday, Hurley was seen cozying up with millionaire Steve Bing at an Elton John concert in New York. Photos of the couple dancing naughtily were printed in London's Sun tabloid Tuesday.
Hurley has also been linked to billionaire Ted Forstmann since her breakup with her beau of 13 years, actor Hugh Grant.
What a weekend.
Ben Affleck is going to be the third actor to play CIA analyst Jack Ryan in a movie, replacing Harrison Ford in Paramount's production of Tom Clancy's bestseller "The Sum of All Fears," Daily Variety reports. The role of Ryan was originally played by Alec Baldwin ("The Hunt for Red October"). Ford opted out of the latest sequel after taking on the Ryan role in "Patriot Games."
SORVINO IN 'LOVE': Mira Sorvino is in final negotiations to star in "The Triumph of Love," an indie pic to be produced by director Bernardo Bertolucci. Sorvino will portray a princess who takes on feminine and masculine identities, discovering she has a power for seduction.
SOME THINGS ARE BETTER LEFT UNSEEN: Joan Collins won't be disrobing as Mrs. Robinson in the London production of "The Graduate," according to Liz Smith in her daily column. (Kathleen Turner let it all hang out for the role, as will Jerry Hall, Turner's replacement.) Collins, 67, who was offered the role when Hall leaves, thinks it is "unseemly" to undress on the stage.
FILM HAS A NAME! Director/writer Cameron Crowe, whose last film was 1996’s "Jerry Maguire," has settled on a name for his latest effort: "Almost Famous." According to USA Today, the DreamWorks flick slated for a Sept. 15 release is an autobiographical coming-of-age tale set in the '70s based on Crowe's experiences as a teenage music reporter for Rolling Stone.
Put Wally Cleaver, Bud Anderson and that kid from "Lost in Space" together in a movie and what do you get? Apparently not what you'd think.
Says Billy Mumy (aka that kid from "Lost in Space"): "When you look at this group of baby boomers' dream cast ... you think, 'Oh, it's going to be 'The Love Boat.' Or it's 'Lost in Space' or it's something kind of cute -- 'Love American Style'-ish. But it's very dark and it's pretty hard-hitting in its tone and non-compromising."
What it is is "Overload," an in-the-works indie sci-fi flick that aims to shoot several former child stars into the nether reaches of the galaxy, including Tony Dow (Wally Cleaver of "Leave It to Beaver" fame), Billy Gray (Bud Anderson of "Father Knows Best") and Billy Mumy, who, if we must be detailed about it, played astroboy Will Robinson on TV's "Lost in Space."
Also on board: Angela Cartwright (Linda Williams on "Make Room for Daddy" and Mumy's TV sibling Penny on "Lost in Space"), Johnny ("The Rifleman") Crawford, Don Grady (middle son Robbie on "My Three Sons"), who'll also handle scoring duties, and -- for good measure -- Melissa ("Little House on the Prairie") Gilbert. Er, make that the voice of Melissa ("Little House on the Prairie") Gilbert. (She's the computer.)
Add up all the names and you've got quite an assemblage of ex-TV kids from the 1950s and 1960s. But given the tabloid rep of said ex-TV kids, you (or some other wise acre) might ask is it lawfully safe for them all to work together on one project at the same time?
Don't worry about it.
Billy Mumy "None of these people have been living depressing, compromised lives," Mumy tells Hollywood.com. "They're all happy pursuing the lives they've pursued."
So, bosh the former child star "curse." "Overload" was not borne of a work-release program or a probation condition. It was borne of a ping-pong game.
The way Mumy, now 46, tells it, the saga began on the set of "Babylon 5," the 1994-98 sci-fi TV series. On "Babylon 5," Mumy, who grew up to be a musician ("Fish Heads"), writer ("Space Cases") and sometime actor, played a latex-covered alien while Dow, now 55, played the director. (Actually, Dow was the director -- one of them anyway. Other helmer credits include "Coach" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.")
Anyway, Mumy started bugging Dow (and the other powers that be on the show) to cast Billy Gray. Now, Mumy didn't know Gray. Had never worked with him. He just thought he was cool.
"When I was a teenager, I used to watch reruns of 'Father Knows Best,' and I used to think Bud Anderson was the coolest," Mumy says. "'Cause he was human, you know. He was just so great. The way he listened, his comedic timing, just the reality within him. ... And [then] he disappeared [from the screen]. No one's seen him for 20 years. I [thought] it'd be so cool. And, of course, they never listened to me and never tried to bring him in [for 'Babylon 5']."
But Mumy didn't give up on Billy Gray. So Dow, a friend of Gray, finally brought the two together. And they all played ping pong.
During the course of a tournament at Dow's house, Mumy asked Gray, whose once-promising film career ("The Day the Earth Stood Still," "On Moonlight Bay," etc.) was stunted by his TV success and whose TV success was stunted by his show's 1960 cancellation and a subsequent headline-making bust for pot possession ("a handful of seeds and stems") in 1962, if he wanted to act again.
Gray, now 62, has gone on to a comfortable existence racing motorcycles and inventing gadgets since bidding his screen career farewell after bits in the likes of "Porklips Now" and "The Vampire Wars." Did he still possess the desire to perform?
Says Gray: "I've always wanted to act. It's just that I never figured out a way to [get] any work. ... If acting was the only thing I enjoyed doing, I suppose I could have, but I've done a little bit of theater and it's not all that fun."
But Mumy's idea sounded fun, and "Overload" -- about seven space explorers in the near future (circa 2069) trapped on a dying vessel (dare we say, lost in space?) -- was hatched.
Mumy and writing partner Peter David cranked out a script for what was then to be a 30-40 minute short, with Mumy as executive producer, Dow as director and Gray as a cast member in good standing.
Along the way, Crawford, Grady, Cartwright and Gilbert joined the project, with "Star Trek" Lt. Sulu George Takei and "Babylon 5"'s Claudia Christian lending added sci-fi cred. Also along the way, "Overload" morphed from a self-financed short to a feature for Galaxy Pictures (www.galaxyonline.com).
If you think "Overload" got attention (and money) because of the former child star angle, the "Overload" team would agree -- to a point.
"What we wanted to do was use it [the former child star thing] as a sort of hook and then turn it around and say, 'Well, wait a second, this is not exactly what we would expect,'" Dow says. "'Cause it isn't an exploitive kind of thing."
Gray agrees "Overload" will be no one-trick pony: "I think that notwithstanding a bunch of kid actors getting together, just that subject matter is something that hasn't been tackled very often."
By way of the Cliffs Notes summary, Mumy describes "Overload" as "'Steambath' [an Off-Broadway play turned 1972 TV movie about a godly towel attendant] meets 'Lifeboat' in 'The Twilight Zone.'" (Translation: Expect a lot of meaning of life stuff mixed in with your special effects.)
After shooting demo footage in the spring, Galaxy says cameras should roll on the entire flick in the fall. Dow, Gray, Mumy and the others will be ready. And this time, Mumy promises, the erst while Will Robinson will have more to do than "lurching left and right and watching out for explosions."
First, an apology. Because "Fail Safe" was presented "live" last Sunday, and because the ending was a closely kept secret, and because we never bothered to actually see the original movie on which it was based, we just had no idea. If this column was responsible in any way for your sitting through an hour and a half of nail-biting suspense, only to get to the part where the president of the United States decides that dropping an atomic bomb on New York City would be a good idea (as opposed to the goofiest plot point ever), we apologize. We would also like to apologize on behalf of the 1960s, a time when, apparently, this ending made sense.
-- The Discovery Channel presents three hours worth of some pretty rare footage of dinosaurs in their natural habitat. Actually, "Walking with Dinosaurs" (7 p.m. PDT, today) co-produced by the BBC, gets its spectacular images from a combination of exotic location shots and state-of-the-art "Jurassic Park"-style digital effects. What’s different and clever here is that the show is presented as a standard nature documentary. And as such, it features a lot of the day in a dino life events that kids will particularly enjoy (like dino pee and dino poop). It’s also maybe a full hour too long. If you’ve got kids, ask them to show you how to work your VCR so you can tape it for them.
-- And speaking of long - Heston’s back! And this time it’s personal! ABC keeps the annual holiday tradition going with the four-hour epic "The Ten Commandments" (7 p.m. PDT, today) starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner and, sadly, not William Shatner. But he would have been perfect in it. Somewhere along the line, probably because it is so beloved, this film started appearing in movie guides as rating four stars. The truth is, it ain’t "Citizen Kane." But there is definitely something about it. If you grew up with this movie, you’ll probably watch at least part of it again (this columnist checks in for at least the Edward G. Robinson scenes every year). If you’ve never seen it before, you might enjoy watching your kids watch this movie. Even if they can’t last through the whole thing, they would still probably love to try. Watch for a cameo appearance by God about three hours in.
-- For those out there with more sophisticated viewing tastes, "Masterpiece Theatre’s" presentation of "David Copperfield" (9 p.m. PDT, PBS, today and Monday) is a keeper. Maggie Smith and Ian McKellen continue their streak of being in every single British-produced film. And they, along with Bob Hoskins, are as engaging as ever, playing these astonishingly captivating characters. Nobody can break your heart while choking you with laughter like Charles Dickens, and this performance does his work justice.
-- "Trapped in a Purple Haze" (8 p.m. PDT, ABC, Monday) is a change of pace from the made-for-TV Monday night movies we’ve been getting. This one trades in the camp appeal of "Satan’s School for Girls" for a much grittier realism, as a teen athlete (Jonathan Jackson, "General Hospital") messes up his life in a hurry with a new girlfriend ("Popular’s" Carly Pope) and her best buddy, heroin. Don’t expect "A Tale of Two Bunnies." This one is unusually serious, and unusually well done.
-- Despite what NBC says you "must see," Fox offers up the show of the night Thursday with the surprising hit British movie "The Full Monty." This film starts off with a quaintly funny premise (unemployed and decidedly unbuff steelworkers form an all-male exotic dance troupe to make ends meet) and then goes on to turn into something pretty special. Great characters portrayed by the likes of Robert Carlyle and Mark Addy and great heart made this an unexpected theatrical hit in 1997.
Ex-"Beverly Hills 90210" star Jason Priestley today was sentenced to five days in jail (well, a private "correctional institution"), dinged with nearly $600 in fines and ordered to complete an alcohol-treatment program, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said. This, after entering a no-contest plea to one count of misdemeanor drunken driving.
The 30-year-old actor was not personally in the Los Angeles courtroom. He's currently on the boards in London with the Tony-winning play "Side Man." When he returns to the States, he'll be hoofing it around town for a while. The court also suspended Priestley's license for a year. In fact, he's got two weeks to turn over the card to authorities.
According to Priestley's lawyer, Peter Knecht, other than the license deadline, the actor can pretty much serve his sentence, such as it is, at "his leisure." In fact, Knecht told Hollywood.com that Priestley might not return to these shores until September or October. "Side Man" wraps in June, and Priestley tells Knecht that he's got other Euro gigs to tend to after that.
Priestley's car troubles began Dec. 2 when he ran his Porsche into "several fixed objects," including, er, a parked car. His passenger, a 27-year-old friend, suffered a broken arm.
At the time, the actor argued that he'd merely been trying to avoid a deer when he started crashing into all that stuff. Police later said the actor was legally drunk.
The jail that's Priestley headed to, by the way, isn't exactly Sing-Sing. Knecht says the star won't be required to stay on the grounds 24/7 -- although he will have to bed down there at night.
HOLD THE RICE: Courtney Love is not engaged to record exec Jim Barber, no matter what Women's Wear Daily says. Love's publicist today denied the WWD report that had the couple walking down the aisle. Love and Barber are an item, the rep says -- they're just not spouses-to-be.
IMAGINE HOW CHAD LOWE FELT: Best Actress winner Hilary Swank "should not stand up there and thank my child," so says the ticked-off mother of Teena Brandon, the real-life gender-bended subject of "Boys Don't Cry." JoAnn Brandon took exception to Swank's Oscar-night speech, the one in which she forgot to thank her husband but did pay tribute to Teena, or as Swank called "him," "Brandon Teena." Says Mrs. Brandon: "I get tired of people taking credit for what they don't know."
NOW THAT'S THEATER! Kathleen Turner is drawing raves (and raising blood pressures) among pasty-faced theater critics for taking it off -- taking it all off -- in the new London stage production of "The Graduate," based on the 1967 film. Turner, 45, bowed as Mrs. Robinson in a Monday night preview performance.
SO SORRY: Led Zeppelin rocker Jimmy Page did not don a robe, cast a satanic spell and otherwise stand idly by whilst bandmate John Bonham choked to death on his own vomit in 1980. The British magazine Ministry, which said all that stuff about Page, today apologized for the story that appeared in its pages last year. Unfortunately, the magazine could not take back the thing about Bonham choking to death on his (Bonham's) vomit. That part really happened.
GOOD-TIME CHARLIE: In a Malibu, Calif., court Monday, onetime bad-boy Charlie Sheen, 34, was released from probation two months early on account of the judge doesn't think he's such a bad boy anymore. That sigh of relief you hear is from the producers of "Spin City," the ABC sitcom on which Sheen will step into next season.
THEY SEE DEAD PRESIDENTS: Shut out at the Oscars or not, "The Sixth Sense" keeps rolling along at the box office. The thriller is now the No. 10 domestic grosser of all time. Through March 23, it had raked in $290.3 million at the box office, bumping 1980 "Star Wars" sequel "The Empire Strikes Back" ($290 mil) from the vaunted Top 10.
HEADLINE NEWS: CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour is a new mommy, having given birth to son Darius on Monday in Washington, D.C. The dad (and Amanpour's husband) is U.S. State Department spokesman James P. Rubin.
GRUNGE LIVES: Pearl Jam has announced plans to launch a 39-date North American tour August 3 in Virginia. The caravan is tentatively scheduled to wrap Nov. 5 in (where else?) Seattle.