Steven Spielberg reportedly has won the race to bring Harry Potter to the big screen.
The Times of London says Spielberg will direct and produce "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," based on the hit children's book series about a schoolboy wizard.
Robert Zemeckis, Jonathan Demme and Mike Newell were among the directors Spielberg beat out for the movie, according to the paper.
Warner Bros., which owns the Harry Potter screen rights, dictated that Spielberg must make the film his next movie. Spielberg, whose docket also includes an adaptation of the best seller "Memoirs of a Geisha," had two possibles in the works: "A.I." and "Minority Report," both produced by his own studio, DreamWorks. "A.I" (the acronym for artificial intelligence) is based on a story outline by late filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. "Minority Report" is a possible project for megastar Tom Cruise.
As for "Harry Potter," the Times says the search is now on for a British child to play the title role, although Spielberg reportedly might be considering a computer-animated version of the story.
NEXT "SENSE": "Sixth Sense" writer/director M. Night Shyamalan has settled on his follow-up project: "Unbreakable."
The suspense drama is set to star the prolific Julianne Moore. "Sense" alum Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson are also attached.
According to Daily Variety, Moore will play the wife of a man (Willis) who begins to experience strange and unusual things after surviving an accident.
THORNTON "SHIPPING" OUT: "The Shipping News" for Billy Bob Thornton isn't good.
The actor-filmmaker has dropped out of the Columbia Pictures film and might opt instead for Universal/Miramax's "Cinderella Man." He will most likely direct the latter film -- probably with Ben Affleck as the lead.
John Travolta and wife Kelly Preston previously departed "The Shipping News," a romantic drama.
LIVIN' ON A PRAYER: Erstwhile hair-band rocker Jon Bon Jovi gets his rocks off as the latest co-star in Bel Air Entertainment's "Pay It Forward."
Daily Variety reports that Bon Jovi will co-star alongside acting heavyweights Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and "The Sixth Sense's" Haley Joel Osment. The pic, about a young boy's attempt at world peace via random acts of kindness, is being directed by "Deep Impact's" Mimi Leder and co-financed and distributed by Warner Bros.
IN KEY: Hollywood director-in-exile Roman Polanski hopes to return to his Polish homeland after acquiring the rights to "The Piano," an autobiographical book about a musician's survival in Poland during World War II. Polanski told Daily Variety that he plans to start shooting the $20 million feature in December. The story, detailing Wladyslaw Szpilman's experiences in Warsaw from 1939 through 1945, is said to be reminiscent of Polanski's own turbulent coming-of-age in war-ravaged Krakow.
GANDHI MEETS THE POPE: If he's good enough to play Gandhi, why not Pope John Paul II?
That's the thinking of an Italian broadcaster who announced Friday that it's planning a TV biopic about the pontiff to star Oscar-winning "Gandhi" star Ben Kingsley.
"Gandhi" director (and fellow Oscar winner) Richard Attenborough is being considered for a role, as well. Reuters reports that talks are under way with both actors about the project, which is in the planning stage and has not yet received official approval from the Vatican.
The house from "The Blair Witch Project" is getting a new lease on life.
Originally scheduled for a meeting with a wrecking ball, Maryland's Department of Natural Resources has decided to spare the 200-year-old Griggs House in western Baltimore County. A lawyer for Haxan Films, which produced "Blair Witch," tells The Baltimore Sun that he thinks distributor Artisan Entertainment put up money with state officials to save the house.
The Griggs House, of course, was the dilapidated shack featured at the climax of the '99 horror hit. At least we think it was. Hard to tell. That friggin' camera was spinning too much.
FROM BRITAIN WITH LOVE: Sean Connery's got a new title -- and this time it's not Sexiest Man Alive.
No, that would be Sir Sean Connery to you. The original 007, along with Elizabeth Taylor and Julie Andrews, were among those knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in a New Year's Eve ceremony in Britain.
Actually, Taylor and Andrews are now officially "dames," not "knights." ("Dames" are titles for girls, "knights" are for boys.)
Other than adding an extra syllable to each of their names, we're not exactly sure what the fancy titles get Sir Sean, Dame Elizabeth and Dame Julie -- well, besides free tea and crumpets.
Name recognition? Not necessary. Oscars? Been there, done that. (Connery won for "The Untouchables," Andrews for "Mary Poppins," and Taylor for "Butterfield 8" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?")
Front-row tickets to the Rolling Stones? We're checking.
RECUPERATING: A "very, very tired" George Harrison will be spending the early part of the millennium recuperating at the house where he was stabbed Thursday.
The former Beatle, 56, was discharged from the Harefield Hospital in London on Saturday along with wife Olivia, who was also injured in the attack. Doctors assured Harrison he would make a full recovery, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, Harrison's reputed attacker -- 33-year-old Michael Abram -- has been charged with attempted murder and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment.
A NOT-SO PUFFY SUIT: Sean "Puffy" Combs might want to start designing a courthouse wardrobe under his clothing label, Sean John.
The oft-in-trouble rap mogul is in trouble again -- this time, thanks to a $100 million lawsuit filed by 27-year-old Julius Jones, one of three bystanders wounded by gunfire Dec. 27 at a Manhattan nightclub. The complaint was filed New Year's Eve in New York.
Combs, who made headlines with girlfriend/actress Jennifer Lopez after the two reputedly fled the shooting scene, was arrested on a weapons charge after a gun was found in his car. The music star has denied any wrongdoing.
GOODBYE, YELLOW BRICK ROAD: Harry Monty, one of the surviving supporting players from "The Wizard of Oz," died Dec. 28 at age 95, it has been reported.
The diminutive actor and stuntman, whose real name was Hymie Lichenstein, both helped and hounded Judy Garland in uncredited roles as a Munchkin and an evil winged monkey. He also had roles in "Planet of the Apes" and "Hello, Dolly!"
Worried you were dozing in Sunday School? Never knew God was a grandpa?
Don’t worry this isn’t sequel to the biblical TV miniseries. Set in the
early ’70s "Jesus’ Son" is the raw account of a young man (Billy
Crudup) shooting up throwing up and staggering through his wasted
youth. Through his journey he encounters a bizarre assortment of
misfits that make this film look like an indie "The Wizard of Oz" for
the messed up. Our hero collides with a beautiful and fragile heroine
addict (Samantha Morton) who becomes the cause of his downfall and
possibly his salvation.
Crudup could have capitalized on his teen-idol good looks to grab some
glossy Hollywood roles (and bucks). Instead he seems intent on using
his impressive acting skills to explore diverse and disturbing sides of
the human experience. As "Jesus’ Son " the actor gives an
inspirationally playful portrayal of the junkie’s arc from recklessness
to recovery as if he lived it. Morton (an Oscar nominee for "Sweet and
Lowdown") makes screwed-up nearly endearing as the woman who like Eve
turns her mate on to the forbidden fruit. The film is also blessed with
extended cameos from Denis Leary Jack Black Dennis Hopper Holly
Hunter and Greg Germann.
Far from glamorous or mainstream Allison MacLean has crafted a daring
grungy portrait of lost youth from Denis Johnson’s book. Brutal yet
compassionate MacLean rewards the adventurous with this disquieting
look at the wounded (literally and emotionally) that eventually leads to
a small but oddly uplifting triumph.
Annette Bening SANTA MONICA, Calif., April 26, 2000 -- Ding, ding, ding went Annette? Annette Bening might follow up her self-absorbed "American Beauty" housewife by playing an even more self-absorbed, complex and pathos-ridden woman.
Word comes today, via Variety's Army Archerd, that Bening is the No. 1 candidate to play Judy Garland in "Rainbow's End," a biopic in development at Fox Searchlight.
The movie, to be based on a new book by another Variety scribe, will be no "Wizard of Oz." It's about Garland's over-the-hill days in the early 1960s, when she hosted "The Judy Garland Show," a weekly primetime series. The movie will be executive produced by (get this) Oliver Stone and Garland's ex, Sid Luft.
One question, though: Who's gonna play Liza?
DON'T DO IT! How do you follow up an Oscar for Best Actor? You make an Inspector Clouseau movie, dummy. According to Variety, Kevin Spacey is talking to MGM about stepping into the late Peter Sellers' shoes and reviving the "Pink Panther" movie franchise. Spacey, not exactly known for his slapstick comedy skills, would be treading on shaky ground -- several other actors have tried and failed to resuscitate the character, or a facsimile of it (Alan Arkin, Ted Wass, Roberto Benigni).
OFF-KEY: "American Psycho" star Christian Bale will star with Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz in a WWII romantic drama, "Captain Corelli's Mandolin," Variety reports today. Bale plays a Greek fisherman engaged to Cruz. When he goes off to war, she jilts him and falls in love with Cage, who plays an Italian soldier.
DON'T FORGET YOUR PILLS: "Dawson's Creek's" Michelle Williams and Ellen Degeneres' Anne Heche have joined the cast of "Prozac Nation," the big-screen version of Elizabeth Wurtzel's autobiographical novel about depression, which was hot about two years ago. According to Variety, the cast already includes Christina Ricci, who'll play Wurtzel.
IN LIKE FLINT: In an apparent attempt to make Rob Lowe seem cool again, producer Joel Silver has cast the immortal James Coburn opposite the erstwhile 1980s icon in a low-budget ($6 million) action film. In "Proximity," Coburn will play a mob figurehead who puts a contract on Lowe's life.
An action-adventure series about Simon McKay, a little man with great powers of imagination and invention who specializes in solving "unsolvable" problems. Simon, who devotes his genius to making toys, delights children and adults alike with his fantastic contraptions. But there are those who seek his skills for nefarious purposes, and the government assigns agent Alex Jagger to work with Simon to keep him out of trouble.
In the premiere episode, a sinister pair wants to kidnap Simon and sell him and his technological skills to the highest bidder. The plot further involves a lost archaeologist in South America who must provide an essential bone marrow transplant for his little brother who is dying of leukemia.