Hollywood Trivia

December 9, 2005

Hollywood Trivia originally published in Topica Newsletters



Director ROMAN POLANSKI can’t seem to keep his reputation out of the mud. The Polish-born filmmaker, who fled the U.S. in the late 1970s following statutory rape allegations, is now being sued by Artisan Entertainment, according to a report in Variety. The suit alleges that Polanski pocketed more than $1 million from production money used in the making of his latest film, “The Ninth Gate.” Because the film was shot in France and eventually exported, a value-added tax (VAT) refund was applied to the production costs. Rather than turn over the refund as specified in various contracts, Artisan says Polanski “brazenly deposited the money in a private account” and “has refused all requests to return the money.” And this is just the insult to the real injury: The $30 million film grossed less than $19 million domestically.


While fans of “The X-Files” are preparing to mourn the departure of Special Agent Fox Mulder (DAVID DUCHOVNY) at the end of this season, series creator CHRIS CARTER is being practical and auditioning new talent. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Carter has already auditioned four actors for the role of an “edgy blue-collar type” to pair up with Agent Scully (GILLIAN ANDERSON). They are: BRUCE CAMPBELL (“Evil Dead”), LOU DIAMOND PHILLIPS (“La Bamba”), ROBERT PATRICK (“Terminator 2”), and veteran character actor HART BOCHNER (“Anywhere But Here”). According to reports, the audition required the actors to creep through a dimly-lit, smoky warehouse for several hours, pausing only to swing around a flashlight and whisper “Scully?”


It’s official: Former “NYPD Blue” stalwart JIMMY SMITS has been cast as Senator Bail Organa in “Star Wars: Episode II.” Confirming a rumor that’s been circulating for months, Smits will play the foster father of Princess Leia in the next prequel installment, according to an official statement by Lucafilm. If you remember your “Star Wars” history correctly, and I know you do, you’ll recall that Senator Organa was was vaporized when his home planet of Alderaan was blown up by the Death Star. Speculation about the prequel has it that Organa may be involved in a love triangle with Queen Amadala (Natalie Portman) and the young Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen). Reports that Smits’ “NYPD Blue” co-star Dennis Franz is up for the role of a young Sipowicz the Hutt could not be confirmed.


Film critic ROGER EBERT has finally selected a permanent partner for his TV endeavors following the death of longtime sparring partner GENE SISKEL. After an 18-month search, during which Ebert worked with a rotating line-up of guest critics, Chicago Sun-Times columnist RICHARD ROEPER has been selected to sit across the aisle, according to a report from E! Online. The venerable TV show will be rechristened “Ebert & Roeper at the Movies.” Says Roeper: “I’ve always been a big fan of Roger and Gene and the show. It’s like joining the Bulls after they’ve won all of those championships.” Maybe not the best metaphor, considering the Bulls’ performance since the end of the Michael Jordan dynasty. Still, Ebert seems optimistic: “”He has strong opinions, a good movie background and a quick sense of humor.”


The bad news: Sprightly, angelic-faced actress DREW BARRYMORE is officially off the market. The worse news: She’s engaged to gangly, hirsute-faced TV prankster TOM GREEN. Where’s the justice? Green, for those no longer plugged into MTV’s 13-and-under target demographic, is the host of “The Tom Green Show,” a kind of kamikaze version of “Candid Camera.” (He also starred in this summer’s sleeper hit “Road Trip.”) Green’s publicist has officially confirmed the engagement, although no wedding date has been set. If love conquers all, this would be Green’s first trip to the altar, Barrymore’s second; she was briefly married to bar owner Jeremy Thomas in 1994.


Even when he’s not trying, STEVEN SPIELBERG makes money. A federal judge has upheld most of an emotional distress verdict awarded to 13 American Airlines passengers who experienced “severe turbulence” on a flight five years ago. A federal jury awarded the passengers — among them director Spielberg and members of his family — $2.25 million last year for psychological trauma suffered on the 1995 New York – Los Angeles flight, which was forced to make an emergency landing in Chicago. According to a Reuters report, U.S. District Judge Constance Baker Motley threw out $150,000 of that amount given to Steven Spielberg’s younger niece, who was 2 years old at the time, but awarded full damages to all other passengers. Asked what he would do with the awarded money, Spielberg said he’s likely “throw it onto the pile.” Kidding, kidding, we’re kidding….


Still smoldering after all these years? Apparently not. British actress and all-around sexy senior JOAN COLLINS turned down a starring role in a stage version of “The Graduate” because she did not want to appear in the obligatory nude scene, London’s Sunday Express has reported. Collins, who made a name for herself in the 1970s starring in such steamy pics as “The Stud” and “The Bitch” — and who posed for Playboy at the age of 50 — told producers that disrobing on stage was ”unseemly,” the newspaper said. “The Graduate” currently stars model Jerry Hall in the role of the seductive Mrs. Robinson. (Hall replaced actress Kathleen Turner at the end of July.) Said Hall of Collins’ refusal: “I’m very fond of Joan and I’m sure she would be wonderful in the part but I don’t remember her wearing very much in ‘The Stud’ and ‘The Bitch.”’


The summer of speculation continues unabated this week as to whether superstar couple BRAD PITT and JENNIFER ANISTON are a-goin’ to see the preacher man. Britain’s always-entertaining, seldom-accurate tabloid The Sun recently reported that the duo were planning to tie the knot within the week. Gossip hound and E! Online columnist Ted Casablanca has reported that his sources say much the same. However, Pitt publicist Cindy Guagenti told E! Online that the megawatt marraige won’t be happening anytime soon. “But,” she amended, “I can’t tell you what will happen a year from now.” Such a tease. In other news, an arrest warrant has been issued for notorious Pitt stalker Athena Marie Rolando, who was convicted last year of breaking into Pitt’s house. It seems Rolando, who is on probation, has failed to show for two court hearings this month. Uh-oh.


Following in the footsteps of fellow divas Madonna, Bette Midler and Cher, singer MARIAH CAREY is headed for the silver screen. According to the Hollywood Reporter, 20th Century Fox will partner with Columbia Pictures to finance Carey’s first feature film, tentatively titled “All That Glitters.” The film is set in the New York City club scene and features Carey as a troubled up-and-comer who — can you believe it? — manages to sing her way to the top of her profession! Alas, she conquers only to discover that all that glitters is not … oh, something or another, I forget. Hip-hop phenom Da Brat and Tia Texada are set to co-star as Carey’s best friends. Shooting is currently underway in Toronto, with director Vondie Curtis-Hall (“Gridlock’d”) at the helm.


Funnyman MARTIN LAWRENCE’s star is rising fast in Tinseltown, following the runaway success of his $100 million-plus box office smash “Big Momma’s House.” According to a recent item in The Hollywood Reporter, Lawrence will earn a healthy $16.5 million for his next project, “Black Knight.” Written by “Big Momma” scribe Darryl Quarles, “Knight” tells the story of a struggling waiter at a theme restaurant who is transported into medieval times. The reasoning, one imagines: If Martin Lawrence in a 30-pound Big Momma latex suit is funny, then Martin Lawrence in a 90-pound suit of armor is hilarious! Lawrence takes over the role from Chris Tucker, who dropped out of the project earlier this year.

As expected, the British press ruthlessly slammed supermodel JERRY HALL in her debut as Mrs. Robinson in the London stage adaptation of “The Graduate.” Hall took over the role from Kathleen Turner, who garnered decent reviews in her stint as the seductive senior. Some excerpts from the reviews: ”Wooden as a toothpick,” (Daily Mail), and “Enter Jerry Hall, barely acting” (The Times). The Times writer, showcasing his knack with marine metaphors, went on to compare her dramatic range to that of “a retiring clam.” Some publications took umbruge with the brief and shadowy nature of the famous full frontal nudity scene required in the play: “If you’re waiting for a glimpse of Jerry’s fine form…wait for next photo shoot for Vogue,” (the Sun). Others were more succinct: “Two fried eggs in the gloaming — that’s all I saw,” complained the Mail’s Quentin Letts. Hall’s ex-husband Mick Jagger also attended the premiere: (“It was fantastic!”)

This sounds like fun: Variety is reporting that Hollywood prince regent LEONARDO DICAPRIO is in final negointiations with DreamWorks to star “Catch Me if You Can,” the true-life tale of teen con man Frank Abagnale Jr. If you haven’t heard of Abagnale’s exploits, they’re rather amazing. Between 1964 and 1966, Abagnale successfully impersonated a Pan Am pilot, chief resident pediatrician at a Georgia hospital, Lousiana’s assistant attorney general, and an American history professor at a French university. He also wrote around $6 million in bad checks — all before he turned 18. In the running for director are Gore Verbinski (“Mouse Hunt”) and David Fincher (“Fight Club”). Look for a 2002 release date.

”What do ARNOLD SCHWARTZENEGGER and KEANU REEVES have in common? They’re both incredibly charismatic and effective movie stars, until they open their mouths.” I actually overheard that exact comment once at Arnie’s Santa Monica restaurant Schatzi’s, made by a movie industry sort who shall remain nameless. Wooden acting style aside, Keanu does look great on screen and we’re always happy to have him. His current project, according to the Hollywood Reporter: “Hardball,” director Brian Robbins’ tale of ticket scalping and little league baseball in Chicago’s hardscrabble Chicago housing projects. Filming begins this month in the Windy City, with Diane Lane and John Hawkes (“The Perfect Storm”) co-starring.


Word is out: Rising talent TOBEY MAGUIRE (“The Ice Storm,” “Cider House Rules”) has officially been cast as Peter Parker, mild-mannered newspaper photographer and friendly neighborhood Spiderman. The long-anticipated film, based on Marvel comics popular title, is expected to hit theatres in late fall 2001. Variety had already reported that the actor was in negotiations for the part, and a recent report on Ain’t It Cool News appears to have the inside goods that the deal is done. “MAGUIRE GOT THE PART!” writes Ain’t It Cool’s guru Harry Knowles in his usual understated style. “That’s right… Run home, put it in your saftey deposit box…. I KNOW THIS FOR A FACT!” For further all-cap rantings and insider conjecture, check out the Web site at http://www.aintitcool.com.


According to a recent breakdown by the Hollywood Reporter, nine movies this year have officially passed the $100 million mark in North American box office receipts. That puts the industry on pace to match 1999’s record pace of 21 $100-million-plus movies in a year. This year’s pacesetters include “Mission: Impossible 2” with $211.3 million, “Gladiator” with $180 million, “The Perfect Storm” with $158.1 million, and “Erin Brockovich” with $125.3 million to date. Other candidates likely to hit the mark: “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps,” “What Lies Beneath,” “Gone in 60 Seconds,” and “Chicken Run.” Hollywood keeps clocking banner years — the second-highest number of $100 million releases occurred in 1998, when 18 films made the grade.

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