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Entertainment Today: Showbiz news

By United Press International   |   Nov. 6, 2001 at 4:45 AM   |   Comments

MELISSA GILBERT

Melissa Gilbert has been elected president of the Screen Actors Guild.

Gilbert, 37, won the election in a surprising upset over actress Valerie Harper, the favorite, and two other candidates.

The actress --- who as a child starred as Laura Ingalls on the popular TV drama "Little House on the Prairie" --- told UPI's Vernon Scott she was "stunned" by her victory.

What could have inspired an exceedingly busy wife, mother and actress to enter the political arena of one of the country's largest unions (100,000)?

"It was a calling," she said. "I had no choice. It was my time. ... There was a silent majority of SAG members who were very dissatisfied with the hard line of the past leadership. They were ready for something a little more moderate."

Does Gilbert think her victory may be due partly to her personal popularity and everyone's affection for little Laura Ingalls?

"I would like to hope not but I think if you look at all the people who did get elected, they definitely went with the best-known celebrities rather than someone who was less well-known," she said. "Obviously they didn't think I was too young and too sweet."


TOM HANKS

According to a report in Daily Variety, Tom Hanks and HBO have optioned the rights to the best-selling biography "John Adams," by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David McCullough.

Hanks and HBO have had a fruitful relationship in the miniseries business.

The "Cast Away" and "Forrest Gump" star produced the 12-part series "From the Earth to the Moon" for the cable network. The project won the Emmy in 1998 for outstanding miniseries.

Hanks and Steven Spielberg collaborated to produce the 10-part miniseries "Band of Brothers," a critical and commercial success currently running on HBO. "Band of Brothers" is based on the book of the same name by historian Stephen E. Ambrose.

HBO previously turned out an adaptation of "Truman," the book for which McCullough won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. "Truman" won the Emmy for outstanding made-for-TV movie in 1996.

(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)


TOM CRUISE

Tom Cruise's next film project is literally out of this world.

The Oscar-nominated actor will narrate the first-ever IMAX 3D space film "Space Station." Scheduled for release next spring, the movie takes a look at the construction of the International Space Station.

Twenty-five astronauts and cosmonauts used specially designed IMAX 3D space cameras to shoot more than 66,000 feet (or 12 miles) of film between December 1998 and July 2001. The movie follows seven shuttle crews and two resident station crews as they transform the ISS into a permanently inhabited scientific research station.

"The minute I saw the amazing 3D footage shot by the astronauts in space, I knew I had to be involved with this very special film," Cruise said. "My family and I have enjoyed IMAX movies for many years -- particularly the ones about the NASA space programs, and I'm honored to participate with the 'Space Station' team in this historic project that documents space pioneers from 16 nations working together to help build the International Space Station."


CELEBRITY BENEFIT AUCTION

Uniquely created Old Navy designs by such stars as Cameron Diaz, Dylan McDermott, Jill Hennessy, William H. Macy, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, Diane Keaton, Kelly Preston, and the casts of "The West Wing," "Frasier" and "Will & Grace" are among the items for sale during a star-studded auction at oldnavy.com.

More than 40 unique items will be on the block Nov. 8-18. All proceeds will benefit P.S. Arts, a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the arts to public education in under-served areas.

"The entire 'West Wing' cast was happy to support Old Navy and P.S. Arts by participating in this auction," said Rob Lowe. "It was fun to create an official pair of West Wing jeans. I hope our viewers log on and bid on our creation or any of the other amazing items. It's a great way to help bring the arts back into our public schools."

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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