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.