What can money and power get you in Hollywood? Apparently, more money, more power and a choice of any role you desire. Just ask Julia Roberts.
The actress, recently anointed by Forbes magazine as the most powerful person in Hollywood, next will be seen playing against type in the legal drama "Erin Brockovich" (opening wide Friday).
By "against type," we're not referring to the cool $20 mil Roberts reportedly banked for playing a secretary name of Erin. What we mean is simply that this particular film is outside of the actress' area of specialty (or marketability) -- the romantic comedy.
Based on a true story and directed by seasoned stylist Steven Soderbergh ("Out of Sight"), Roberts plays a small-town paralegal who spearheads a lawsuit against a utility company she says is polluting the water. (But not to worry. Just because Roberts is playing a working-class, twice-divorced woman with kids does not mean that she'll look like one in the film.)
Her real-folks turn has generated a strong word of mouth -- even some way early Oscar 2001 buzz.
And just in case the film doesn't work out, there's always romantic comedy to fall back on.
Other key new releases this week:
-- Being added to the pile of post-"Scream" kiddies horror flicks is the new kiddies horror flick "Final Destination" (opening wide Friday). Even though the film doesn't feature an illusive bloodthirsty slasher, it does pose a really grim question: Can one escape the fate of death? The film marks the directing debut of "X-Files" producer James Wong and stars teenyboppers such as Devon Sawa ("Idle Hands") and Kerr Smith ("Dawson's Creek").
-- On the art-house front, there's a batch of new stuff, including: "The Carriers Are Waiting" (opening Wednesday in New York only), "The Lifestyle" (opening Thursday in New York only), "Baby Mother" (opening Friday in selected cities), "Beyond the Mat" (opening Friday in selected cities) and "Soft Fruit" (opening Friday in New York only).