Role Call: Madonna gets “Swept Away”

We all knew this was going to happen at some point. When Madonna had a baby with quirky British director Guy Ritchie and then married him, it was just a matter of time before she’d star in one of his movies. Madonna is just as hot as she can be right now, coming off of her “Drowned World” concert tour and spectacular HBO special, and Ritchie is staking a claim in the world indies with his cult hits Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Now Ritchie plans on directing a remake of Lina Wertmuller‘s 1974 Italian film Swept Away about a spoiled rich woman who goes on a Mediterranean cruise with her husband and friends. The boat’s captain is a communist who loathes his clients, but when he and the woman are stranded on a desert island, they end up falling in love. Bruce Greenwood (Thirteen Days) is in negotiations to play the woman’s husband, an evil industrialist. The original film starred Mariangelo Melato and Giancarlo Giannini as the combustible lovers. Who the heck is going to generate that same heat with Madonna? Certainly not Willem Dafoe–he already tried that in Body of Evidence and it just didn’t work out. Maybe Ritchie should think about acting?

Bullock and Grant in office romance

Sandy and Hugh, sitting in a tree…. The two likeable stars, Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant, are pairing for the first time in an untitled romantic comedy from Castle Rock Entertainment and directed by first time helmer/writer Mark Lawrence. Although the plot is being kept closely under wraps, the film apparently explores the question of whether it’s ever too late to say “I love you.” As a romantic myself, I say of course it isn’t!

Bullock‘s character, Lucy Kelson, is described as a brilliant but slightly neurotic attorney, with Grant playing her charming, irresponsible and ridiculously wealthy boss. Hey, wait a minute. Didn’t Grant already play a charming and irresponsible boss to Renee Zellweger’s Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’ Diary? Guess this is getting to be a habit for him.

Also, I just discovered that Bullock has finished filming Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood with Ashley Judd for Warner Bros., based on the fabulous best-selling novel of the same name. If you are huge fan of the book, which I am, you can get excited about this one.

A “Cold” day for Cruise

No, this has nothing to do with his divorce from ice princess Nicole Kidman. However,Tom Cruise is eyeing the big screen adaptation of another best-selling novel Cold Mountain to be his next feature film, a co-production between MGM and Miramax.

Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) wrote and will direct the adaptation about a wounded Confederate soldier (Cruise) who, in the final days of the Civil War, walks home to North Carolina to the woman he loves. However, Cruise isn’t in yet. Other big names have been attached including Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks and Daniel Day-Lewis. So, we’ll see who the best man for the job is.

Personally, I’d pick Daniel Day-Lewis, if he was available. He’d bring that quiet intensity he’s known for to a role that sounds right up his alley.

Hanks is caught

If you remember last week’s column, I mentioned director Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks were finally going to get the intriguing story Catch Me If You Can off the ground. The film centers around Frank Abagnale Jr., an imposter and counterfeiter in the 1960s who was the youngest person to ever be on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List. The film already has Leonardo DiCaprio attached to star as Abagnale and now it looks like Tom Hanks may play the role of FBI agent Joe Shaye. Shaye tracked down and captured Abagnale after six years, and during their cat-and-mouse game Shaye and Abagnale came to enjoy their interaction and ultimately became friends. Shaye was instrumental in getting Abagnale released from prison after five years on the condition that he teach and assist federal law enforcement agencies–without pay. Abagnale is now 53 and currently lectures extensively at the FBI Academy.

Prince Charming is a cad

Hyde Park Entertainment has picked up the pitch Long Ago and Far Away from writers David Titcher and Diane Saltzberg. This really isn’t a role call yet, but I had to mention this because I just love the idea. The story combines several classic fairy tales to tell the story of Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty who all come to find out they are married to the same Prince Charming. Now, if I were casting this, here’s a few suggestions: Helen Hunt as Sleeping Beauty, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Snow White, Gwyneth Paltrow as Cinderella and George Clooney as Prince Charming. Let’s see if my choices are anywhere near close.

A hip-hop “9 to 5”

Will Smith wants to remake 9 to 5 with an all-black cast, and gosh darnit, he should go for it! We all remember the delightful 1980 film with Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton, as co-workers who are disgruntled with their sexist and abusive boss. Through a series of wild events the trio ends up kidnapping him and running the office themselves. Of course, in a Smith world, he’d most likely cast himself as the boss and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith as one of his girls. As well as remake that Dolly Parton song with a definite hip-hop beat. I can see the video now.