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News from the entertainment capital

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   Dec. 4, 2001 at 5:05 PM   |   Comments

'BIG TROUBLE' ON THE WAY

The Walt Disney Co. has settled on April 5 as the new release date for "Big Trouble," the Tim Allen comedy that was yanked from the release schedule following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

Based on the novel by syndicated newspaper columnist Dave Barry, the movie includes a plot twist involving a suitcase bomb that affects the lives of a diverse group of Miami residents. It was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld ("Men in Black," "Get Shorty").


HONORS FOR 'AMELIE'

France's official entry for the Academy Award for best foreign film had a big day Saturday, snagging four prizes -- including best picture -- at the 14th annual European Film Awards in Berlin.

Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet won for best director, but the film's star -- Audrey Tautou -- watched Isabelle Huppert walk off with the best actress award for "The Piano Teacher." Ben Kingsley won the best actor award for his performance as a psychotic gangster in "The Sexy Beast."

Danis Tanovic won for best screenwriter for "No Man's Land." The Nicole Kidman-Ewan McGregor musical, "Moulin Rouge," was named best non-European film.


HONORS FOR SCORSESE

The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures announced Tuesday that it will present the William K. Everson Award to Martin Scorsese at the group's annual awards gala on Jan. 7 in New York.

The award is named for the long-time film teacher at the NYU School of the Arts.

It is not the first time that the NBR has honored Scorsese.

The director of "Raging Bull" (1980), "GoodFellas" (1990) and the upcoming "Gangs of New York" won the group's Billy Wilder award for career achievement in direction in 1998. He won the board's best director award in 1993 for "The Age of Innocence."

Three of Scorsese's pictures -- "Raging Bull," "GoodFellas" and "The Color of Money" (1986) -- made the NBR's yearly list of the Top 10 movies.


HONORS FOR BENICIO DEL TORO

The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, will present Oscar-winning actor Benicio Del Toro with its Piper-Heidsieck tribute to undependent vision award.

The award is given to recognize filmmakers who have made a significant and unique contribution to independent film.

In addition to his Oscar-winning performance as a world-weary police officer in the drug-war drama "Traffic," Del Toro has also starred in "Snatch," "Swimming With Sharks" and "The Usual Suspects."

He joins a list of previous Piper-Heidsieck winners that includes Julianne Moore, Tim Robbins and Kevin Spacey.


LANE WILL TAKE ON GLEASON

Nathan Lane, the Tony-winning star of "The Producers," will play Jackie Gleason in a movie about the life of the star of "The Honeymooners" and "The Jackie Gleason Show," the variety show he hosted on CBS, off and on, from 1955-70.

"To the Moon" is being written by Robert Festinger, who wrote "In the Bedroom" -- the new drama in which Sissy Spacek is getting rave reviews and being mentioned as a possible Oscar nominee.

Lane has been interested for some time in doing a movie about Gleason, who he says was a major influence on Lane's own development as a performer.


CASTING NOTES

Rita Wilson and Maria Bello are joining Greg Kinnear in the cast of "Autofocus," the upcoming movie version of the life and tragic death of Bob Crane -- who starred in the CBS comedy, "Hogan's Heroes," from 1965-71.

Wilson and Bello will play Crane's wives.

Willem Dafoe is already onboard as John Carpenter, the man who helped Crane learn how to use home video equipment to make tapes of his many sexual encounters with other women. Carpenter was eventually tried, and acquitted, on charges of murdering Crane in a Scottsdale, Ariz., motel in 1978.

Paul Schrader ("Affliction," "Hardcore") is directing Kinnear ("As Good as It Gets," "Sabrina") in "Autofocus."


FIRST A GENIE, NOW A WITCH

Barbara Eden -- who became a star playing a genie on the NBC comedy "I Dream of Jeannie" -- will play a witch in an upcoming episode of the WB comedy, "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch."

Eden will play Great Aunt Irma, the grand dame of Sabrina's family.

The episode will also feature Hanson, the band that burst onto the pop charts in 1997 with the hit single, "MMMBop." The boys will introduce their new single, "Strong Enough to Break."


RETURN ENGAGEMENT FOR JOHN WATERS

Organizers of the IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards have decided to bring John Waters back as host of the awards ceremonies next March.

Waters was well-received as host of the event last March, even though his disregard for good taste might have made some members of the audience a little uncomfortable. The Independent Spirit Awards will be presented one week before the Academy Awards, in ceremonies to be televised live over the Independent Film Channel.

Nominees for the Indies will be announced Jan. 8 in Los Angeles.


PACKAGE DEAL?

According to gossip columnist Mitchell Fink, entertainment reporters for local TV stations are griping about the way Paramount Pictures handled arrangements for interviews with Penélope Cruz, who stars with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in the upcoming movie, "Vanilla Sky."

According to the report, the studio offered to make Cruz available for sit-down interviews only with reporters who would also agree to interview the stars of another, lesser-known, Paramount movie, "Orange County," starring Colin Hanks and Schuyler Fisk.

Hanks is the son of Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks. Fisk is the daughter of Oscar-winning actress Sissy Spacek.

Fink quoted a "veteran New York producer" as calling the arrangement "out-and-out extortion."

A publicist for Cruz told Finks she didn't know anything about the situation, and Fink said his calls to Paramount executives for comment on the story were not returned.


LAWYER: CRUISE IS 'NOT GAY'

Tom Cruise has dropped a $100 million defamation lawsuit against a magazine publisher, now that the publisher has acknowledged he does not have a videotape showing the star of "Jerry Maguire" and "Vanilla Sky" having sex with another man, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

"Cruise does not appear on the videotape to which said defendant referred," said a Superior Court stipulation approved by Los Angeles Judge Emilie Elias. "(Cruise) is not, and never has been, homosexual and has never had a homosexual affair."

Cruise filed suit in June accusing Bold magazine publisher Michael Davis of sending news releases to several news organizations, alleging that Cruise had been involved in a homosexual relationship while he was married to Nicole Kidman.

"The story was false," said Cruise's lawyer Bertram Field. "(Cruise is) not gay, and the judge so ruled."

Davis' lawyer, Edward Pilot, said he was pleased with the outcome.

"My client was sued for $100 million," said Pilot. "As it turned out, he did not pay Mr. Cruise a penny."


WHAT IS DICK CLARK DOING NEW YEAR'S EVE?

When you're Dick Clark, you never have to wonder what you're doing New Year's Eve.

ABC has announced that Clark will host three and one-half hours of special programming on Dec. 31 -- marking the 30th straight year that Clark has led the televised New Year's Eve celebration.

"Dick Clark's Primetime New Year Rockin' Eve" will once again feature Clark reporting from Times Square, and introducing highlight performances from some of 2001's hottest tours -- including Aerosmith, Destiny's Child, Elton John and the Dave Matthews Band.

During one segment of the show, Clark will share the screen with Wayne Brady, the star of the ABC comedy series, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" Brady will introduce appearances by music stars Blink 182, Blu Cantrell, Bush, LFO, The O'Jays, Pink, Busta Rhymes and Jessica Simpson.


NBC SETS DATE FOR 'AZARIA' SHOW

NBC announced Tuesday that it will premiere the new comedy series, "The Hank Azaria Show," on Jan. 8.

Azaria, the two-time Emmy winner star of "Tuesdays with Morrie" and "The Simpsons," stars in the new show as a TV writer who explores his own fantasy world for ideas for the weekly sketch show he works on. Katey Sagal ("Married ... with Children") co-stars as Azaria's boss.

Azaria is executive producer of the series, along with Seth Kurland ("Friends").

Azaria won a supporting actor Emmy and was nominated for a SAG Award for his portrayal of Mitch Albom in "Oprah Winfrey Presents Tuesdays with Morrie," starring the late Jack Lemmon. He co-starred this year with Julia Roberts, John Cusack, Billy Crystal and Catherine Zeta-Jones in "America's Sweethearts."

His other film credits include "Mystery, Alaska," "Mystery Men," "Godzilla," "Celebrity," "Quiz Show" and "The Birdcage."

He won an Emmy for his voice-over work on "The Simpsons" providing the voice of several characters, including Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak and Police Chief Clancy Wiggum.

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