The Force could still be with "Titanic" mega-star Leonardo DiCaprio, who talked about the "Star Wars" rumors in an interview last week with "Entertainment Tonight." Leo reports that he and George Lucas have discussed the idea of the 25-year-old playing Anakin, and the actor wants to do it. So far, though, there has been no official word from either camp.
Leo's comments came during a round of press interviews for his latest project, "The Beach." The 20th Century Fox movie, an eerie adventure directed by "Trainspotting's" Danny Boyle, is set to open Feb. 11.
Meanwhile, Lucas is busy preparing the next "Star Wars" script. If the stars align right, the director will begin filming the second in the series' prequel trilogy in June. He expects to complete shooting by October.
STAR TREKKER SETS PHASER TO SPOOF: "Star Trek: Next Generation" actor and director Jonathan Frakes can't be accused of lacking a sense of humor. Daily Variety reports that the franchise player has signed up to helm the sci-fi spoof "Steve Was Here" for Sony-based Centropolis Entertainment.
The filmmaker, who's already directed two "Trek" movies, signed a six-figure deal for the project. Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, heads of Centropolis and the filmmakers responsible for "Stargate," "Independence Day" and "Godzilla," will serve as the movie's executive producers. "Steve" tells the story of a sad town and its civilians, who decide to create a fake alien landing in order to boost tourism. Norman Steinberg is the screenwriter.
SELLECK TRIES NEW PARTY: Republican Tom Selleck joins the Hollywood majority playing a Democratic presidential candidate in an upcoming cable TV movie. According to Variety, Selleck will headline TNT's dramedy "Washington Slept Here," about a leading candidate in the Democratic primaries. The $10 million film is supposed to begin a six-week shoot in Los Angeles in order to make its scheduled air date in August, which would coincide with the real Democratic convention in L.A. Selleck's co-stars include Faye Dunaway, Laura Linney, Nancy Travis and Teri Hatcher.
FRIENDLY CYBERGIRL: Jennifer Aniston will prove she's Internet-friendly as the producer and star of an original series for the Web site VOXXY. Aimed at teen-age girls, the site plans to feature 13 "empowering" and "entertaining" half-hour episodes throughout the spring.
Godzilla rises from the deep and fights the Japanese military. Then another more terrifying enemy appears so Japan decides to leave Godzilla alone so he can defeat the bad guys. It's a formula that has remained unchanged for 46 years and 22 movies. Why mess with success? The Japanese Godzilla looks like a man in a rubber suit walking through a model city but hey he's King of the Monsters because he delivers the goods -- unlike that unspeakable digitized American 'Zilla from 1998.
Be honest. When it comes to Godzilla movies you don't care how good (or bad) the Japanese actors are. What matters is the dubbing and in this case it's actually not all bad. TriStar Pictures hired mostly Asian actors for that "authentic" sound. The English dialogue ranges from somewhat witty (there are references to "Patton" and the old "Superman" TV show) to the naively stupid (like when a scientist exclaims: "Let's use the electron microscope!"). The lips don't match the words (as usual) so if you still think that's funny you'll laugh.
What matters here is the special-effects wizardry. The effects aren't up to "Phantom Menace" standards (remember this is a $10 million movie) but they're better than in the Godzilla flicks you remember from childhood. The Godzilla costume is better than ever: never before has the monster looked so truly huge and his incendiary death ray is more impressive and destructive. There are lots of good miniature cities too. Still the alien spaceship and the extraterrestrial monster it begets (a clumsy big-fisted thing that tries to eat Godzilla) are less than stunning.
In the little town of Zillah, Wash., God is a 200-foot radioactive dinosaur. Sort of. You see, the parishioners of the Christian Worship Center (denomination: Church of God) there have taken to calling their place of worship the Church of Godzilla -- er, make that Church of God-Zillah.
"It is spelled differently, and there's a little dash between God and Zillah," Jolene Conner, wife of the church's pastor, the Rev. Gary Conner, tells Hollywood.com.
It all started about six years ago, when the pastor would visit other congregations and inevitably be introduced as head of the "Church of Godzilla." Everyone thought it was cute, and around the time of the big-budget, U.S.-made "Godzilla" remake in 1998, the church made T-shirts for a fundraiser, with a picture of a T-Rex holding a cross.
Recently, one parishioner began building a 10-foot dinosaur in the church's parking lot. The yet-uncompleted creature (it's made of some kind of metal, Jolene says) is still just a skeleton, but it's mounted on a trailer and was recently entered in a local parade.
"My husband loved the old Godzilla movies, and we purchased them on videotape," Jolene says. "And it really has been an attention-getter with kids."
We had to ask, however, if the church's fascination with Godzilla and dinosaurs conflicts with scripture, which makes no mention of prehistoric reptiles.
"There's one spot in Job where Job kind of describes something that sounds like a dinosaur," she relates. "And there's physical evidence of dinosaurs -- there's other species that are extinct also. We don't have any problems with that. We just think it's a fun little thing that fell into our laps.
"X-Men" X'D OUT? Rumors were flying this week about a snafu with Fox's "X-Men" movie, which is due out July 14, but studio officials were quick to extinguish them (or try to, anyway). The rumblings started when Fox postponed the "X-Men" press junkets (often a sign of a film in trouble), which were originally slated for June 24.
Fox says there's no truth to stories (originating from comingsoon.net) that the postponement followed a really bad test screening, which spurred a major re-editing of the flick. The final cut just won't be finished in time for the press affair. The junkets are now slated for July 8-9, and "the film will be in theaters on the 14th ... rest assured, we will be on course."
POLISHING SPIDER-MAN: Every week there's new "Spider-Man" movie news, so here goes: According to Daily Variety, Scott Rosenberg, screenwriter of "Gone in 60 Seconds" and "High Fidelity," has been hired to revamp Columbia's "Spider-Man" script, written by ("The Lost World") David Koepp .
Parker Posey has signed on to play the villain in the big-screen adaptation of Saturday morning toon classic "Josie and the Pussycats." Tara Reid ("American Pie") and Alan Cumming ("Titus") are in negotiations to join the cast, as well, according to today’s Hollywood Reporter.
"She's All That" star Rachael Leigh Cook is already a lock to play Josie, the leader of the female rocker/super-sleuth group. Posey will portray a 'tyrannical egomaniacal record label CEO.' The story, written by "Can’t Hardly Wait" scribes Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan (who will also direct), has the Pussycats being manipulated by Posey to put subliminal messages in their songs and lure the nation’s youth into media slavery. And no, we’re not making this up.
WHAT ABOUT GABRIELLE? Lucy Lawless is mulling her first movie since becoming a TV star via "Xena: Warrior Princess." The film, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is "Dealing With Donna," an Australian comedy about two dysfunctional women, to be directed by Richard Turner.
ARACHNOPHOBIA: The producing team who brought you "Independence Day" and "Godzilla," then took a break from sci-fi with the forthcoming "The Patriot" with Mel Gibson, is going back to its roots. Centropolis Entertainment will produce a $30 million film called "Arach Attack," a comedy thriller about rampaging, toxic spiders.
THIS AIN’T DUMBO, FOLKS: The Reporter says Jodie Foster and Morgan Freeman will voice elephants in DreamWorks’ next animated film, "Tusker," about a herd of elephants trekking across Southeast Asia.
AVEC DU FROMAGE: Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman will star in an English-language thriller from famed French director Claude Lelouch ("A Man and A Woman"), the Reporter says. Shooting on "T For Thriller" is set for later this year in New York, Paris, Britain and Italy.
WOODY GOES WEST: In case anyone’s still paying attention, East Coast denizen Woody Allen has inked a three-film deal with West Coast-based DreamWorks. Allen's next flick is "Small Time Crooks," due out May 19.
Not one frame of film has been shot, the script isn't finished yet and, heck, the studio hasn't even officially announced the director's name (it's Sam Raimi). But this week, Sony started working on the most important part of its forthcoming "Spider-Man" movie: The toys. The formation of Spider-Man Merchandising L.P. was announced at an invitation-only meeting at UCLA, attended by hundreds companies interested in licensing Spider-Man tie-in stuff when the film comes out in Fall 2001. "Spider-Man" will be one of the biggest even movies ever, and this is expected to be one of the biggest merchanidsing campaigns ever, too.
"By joining forces with Marvel, we can maximize on major licensing opportunities to support the movie, while leveraging the enormous worldwide popularity that has already been built," says Peter Dang, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Consumer Products for Sony Pictures. "The formation of this new company is necessary to maximize the potential of the built-in awareness of Spider-Man."
Translation: "We're going to make so much money off this movie, it'll make your Spider-sense tingle."
But before the suits at Sony start counting their bankroll, they should remember one word: "Godzilla."
It was just three years ago that Sony was saying precisely the same things about their then-forthcoming big-event lizard movie. They invited hundreds of merchandisers to jump on the bandwagon for what seemed like a sure thing.
But then, a funny thing happened. The movie bombed, and a lot of plastic lizards wound up in the bargain bin. One reason: The kids didn't like the new Godzilla; he didn't look anything like the old one.
Which is why we begin to doubt there's hope for the human race when we hear rumors that Sony won't be making a traditional, red-and-blue-suit "Spider-Man" movie, but an updated, "The Matrix"-influenced film, based on a black-suited, new Spidey (a la Marvel's offshoot "Spider-Man 2099" comic).
TICK ... TICK ... TICK! Those of us who dug "The Tick" cartoon on Fox a couple of years ago are hoping that series creator Ben Edlund succeeds in getting his long-awaited live-action "Tick" TV pilot on the air, and recent news sounds promising.
Last week, Edlund posted an update on a "Tick" fan newsgroup, saying, "The new 'Tick' kicks ass!" The pilot, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, features Patrick Warburton of the "Seinfeld" cast as the dim-witted, insectoid hero and David Burke as Arthur, his moth-man sidekick.
Edlund also warned fanboy purists that the real-life "Tick" costume will differ from the cartoon character's. "While previously the Tick has had pupil-less white eyes set in a blue face mask, this new version exposes the Tick's eyes and brow. I imagine some of you will be deeply disappointed by this departure from Tick scripture." Heck, we just want to see the show.
LIVER AND ENTRAILS, NO BEANS: As rumored this week, a teaser trailer for "Hannibal" will be shown in theaters where "Gladiator" is playing, beginning this weekend. The trailer shows a glimpse of Anthony Hopkins as the titular man-eater, apparently culled from "The Silence of the Lambs" footage.
According to Cinescape Online, however, the teaser doesn't include a reference to the famed line wherein Hopkins remembers dining on a human liver with "fava beans and a nice chianti." "Hannibal" begins filming next month in Italy, under the direction of Ridley Scott.
DOWNLOAD THIS: The race to buy and sell Internet movie distribution rights has invaded outer space. Galaxy Pictures Inc. announced it has bought the rights to 50 vintage and not-so-vintage science fiction movies, from "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" and "Things to Come" to "Death Race 2000" and "Brother From Another Planet." The movies, along with Galaxy's original productions, will be available from the company's Website (www.galaxyonline.com).
The overall title for two series: "Godzilla" and "Jana of the Jungle." "Godzilla" (Sequence 1). The exploits of Carl Rogers, a scientist who roams the seas (via his boat, the Calico), and Godzilla, the 30-storey-tall fire-breathing dragon he controls, as they battle evil.
"Jana of the Jungle" (Sequence 2). A boat traveling down a river in Africa strikes a rock and sinks. One of the passengers, a young girl named Jana, is rescued by Montaro, a warrior, who raises her. As the years pass, Jana becomes a legend--the protector of the jungle and all its creatures. The series relates her adventures as she battles unscrupulous characters.