Top Story: Batter Up for Miramax's Damn Yankees
Stick with what works. Coming off the hugely successful Oscar-winning musical Chicago, Miramax Films has bought the rights to remake the Broadway musical Damn Yankees, Reuters reports. The Tony Award-winning musical, which opened on Broadway in 1955, centers on a fan who sells his soul to the devil to help his hapless baseball team win the pennant from the unbeatable Yankees. Ray Walston won a Tony for his performance as Mr. Applegate, the devil, as did Gwen Verdon for her seductress Lola, whose signature song was "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets." Both performers reprised their roles in the 1958 film adaptation that co-starred Tab Hunter. "I see us updating Damn Yankees, modernizing it, and really having fun with the role of the devil," Reuters reports Miramax president Harvey Weinstein said in a statement. No casting decisions have been made as yet.
New Altman Film Debuts in Toronto
Director Robert Altman's newest film, The Company, will make its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, The Associated Press reports. The film follows the world of ballet and stars Neve Campbell. Other films showing at the festival include Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions, which recently won awards at the Cannes Film Festival, and Lars von Trier's Dogville. The festival runs Sept. 4-13.
Gibson's Film Labeled Anti-Semitic
Although actor/director Mel Gibson has continually stated his upcoming film The Passion, about the last days of Jesus Christ, is not offensive to any race or religion, the Anti-Defamation League of America charged Tuesday that based an early draft of the screenplay, the project could "promote anti-Semitism." According to The Hollywood Reporter, a report that had been prepared by scholars associated with both the ADL and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and contained a long list of objections was leaked to the media this month. "When these kind of issues are raised and we feel concern, we speak out even before the film has been made," Myrna Shinbaum, a spokesperson for the ADL told The Reporter, acknowledging that the concerns are based on an early version of the screenplay. "We haven't seen it yet, so we can't speak to the film itself."
Spielberg Gets Richer Off Theme Park Rides
Steven Spielberg is getting in on the action, literally. Since many of the theme park rides at Universal Studios are based on films such as his Jaws, Jurassic Park and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, the director has landed a highly lucrative deal with Universal, acting as a consultant and getting two percent of the park's gross from tickets to concessions, The Los Angeles Times reports. The deal was made for the company's two parks in Orlando, Fla., and goes along with a previous deal Spielberg made for the park in Osaka, Japan. It does not include Universal Studios in California.
N'Sync's Fatone To Wed
Joey Fatone, member of the boy band N'Sync and host of the new talent show search Fame, asked his longtime girlfriend to marry him June 18 in Orlando, Fla., AP reports. Fatone broke the news on Craig Kilborn's CBS show The Late Late Show. He and his girlfriend, Kelly, have been together for 10 years and have a two-year-old daughter.
Eminem's Feeling Generous
During a recent concert in England, bad-boy rapper Eminem stunned crowds by giving a diamond necklace worth nearly $450,000 to one of his fans, AP reports. "I'm going to give this to the sexiest woman I see," Eminem said on stage Monday, as 65,000 fans watched him lean over the stage and give the jewelry to a stunned girl standing at the front of the audience. "It looked like a huge, diamond-encrusted crucifix," a nearby member of the audience, Toby Friedner, told the BBC. "The girl he gave it to was blond, pretty, wearing glasses and 18-20."
Role Call: Tucker May Rush to Rush, South Park Creators Turn to Puppets, Kutcher and Mac Have Dinner
Funny guy Chris Tucker is in negotiations to reprise his role as Detective James Carter in Rush Hour 3, Variety reports. No word yet if co-star Jackie Chan is to join him … those wacky nuts Trey Parker and Matt Stone are leaving their South Park roots and developing a yet-untitled feature using marionettes. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the puppet show is about superheroes on a mission to eradicate things such as terrorism--and certain celebrities who have outworn their welcome in the public eye. Now, who could that be? … Another intriguing duo, Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac, are attached to star in The Dinner Party for Columbia Pictures. In a Guess Who's Coming to Dinner take, Kutcher plays a young man marrying a black woman whose father (Mac) is having a tough time accepting the marriage.