News Roundup: Aug. 21


Top Story

The Associated Press reports Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis has asked for a three-year restraining order against a screenwriter who has been harassing him. The court papers claim 35-year-old Robert Scott Miller, who is the brother of a man who works part time for Zemeckis, has been harassing the director with numerous faxes. The communications do not contain any threats of violence but do allude to Miller’s belief he is Jesus Christ, the court papers claim. Zemeckis said he believes the faxes stem from his rejection of the screenwriter’s script. Miller, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, had been committed to a psychiatric hospital for three days earlier this month.


Verne Troyer, the diminutive actor who plays Mini-Me in the Austin Powers series, traveled to a Taco Bell restaurant in Lakeland, Fla., to award the fast-food chain contest’s grand prize of $1 million and a Mini Cooper car to winner Tim Harmon. Ah, the price of fame.


From the “now we’ve heard everything” files: Canadian prostitutes, drug users and homeless people are up in arms over their loss of revenue due to film production in their areas. The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (yes, there really is such an organization), which represents about 1,000 residents of downtown Vancouver, sent a letter to 30 production firms demanding compensation for disrupting their work, including panhandling, prostitution and the displacement of the homeless or drug users. Variety reports the letter states, “[They] must be compensated for displacement they experience…in the same manner you would compensate a business.”

The French media giant Vivendi Universal’s Studio Canal will be releasing a documentary about the events of Sept. 11 that frequently displays strong anti-American sentiments. Entitled 11’09″01 September 11, the film incorporates 11-minute shorts from 11 international directors, including shorts from Egypt, Iran, Britain, India and the United States. The film will play at the Toronto and Venice film festivals but hasn’t yet received a U.S. distributor. Imagine that.

Juliette Lewis will join Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone and Stephen Dorff in the Disney thriller The Devil’s Throat (aka Cold Creek Manor), directed by Mike Figgis. The story centers on a couple who move their family to a dream home in the country only to discover its previous owner, now out of jail, wants it back. Honestly, what’s the deal here? Just give it back.


Former President Bill Clinton still seems to have his heart set on getting in front of that camera. Variety reports that syndication powerhouse King World and CBS are pursuing the possibility of a Clinton talk show that would be a cross between Oprah and Nightline and would air during the day. Although Clinton hasn’t officially signed a deal, he would need to do so within a month to make a fall 2003 debut.

CNN confirmed Tuesday that it paid for controversial tapes showing the Al Qaeda terrorists using chemical weapons to kill dogs. A spokesman for the network, however, told The Hollywood Reporter the “modest sum” had not gone to the terrorist organization. The tapes were apparently recovered by local Afghans from an abandoned hideout of leader Osama bin Laden.


Singer Gloria Estefan and actor Jimmy Smits will once again host this year’s Latin Grammys. In 2000, the pair co-hosted the Latin Grammys’ inaugural event with Andy Garcia and Jennifer Lopez. This year’s ceremony will take place Sept. 18 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.