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By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   Jan. 11, 2002 at 7:07 PM   |   Comments

'CLONES' HEADING FOR THE HOME STRETCH

George Lucas and his hands at Lucasfilm Ltd. Are playing beat the clock as they get "Star Wars: Episode -- Attack of the Clones" ready to open in the U.S. this May -- a challenge made all the more difficult by the fact that the fifth "Star Wars" movie will also open in most international markets within the same month.

"It's going to be a madhouse for the next six months," said producer Rick McCallum in a message posted at starwars.com.

The decision to open worldwide at more or less the same time puts a lot of pressure on post-production teams to produce mixes tailored for each market.

"It means we have to have the finished film done a month ahead of what we did for Episode I," said McCallum. "It means we have to audition and cast 60 to 80 actors to do the parts in each country, and we're in 30 different countries."

McCallum said it's an "intense, complicated and time-consuming period, but awfully fun if we can pull it off."

Talent agents around the world have been pitching local voice talent to Lucasfilm, where producers listen to tapes and decide who will provide the foreign-language voices for Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and the rest of the cast.


ROLL 'EM!

Shooting is scheduled to commence Monday on MGM's 20th James Bond movie, as yet untitled.

Of course, there have been more than 20 Bond movies, but only 19 of them up until now have been made by MGM.

This one brings back Pierce Brosnan for his fourth turn as 007 -- following "GoldenEye," "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "The World Is Not Enough." It also stars Halle Berry as Jinx, Bond's latest nemesis.

Lee Tamahori ("Along Came a Spider," "The Edge") will direct, and the cast will also include Judi Dench ("Shakespeare in Love," "Chocolat") as "M," John Cleese ("Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," "Rat Race") as "Q" and Samantha Bond ("The World Is Not Enough," ("Tomorrow Never Dies") as Miss Moneypenny. The cast also includes Rick Yune, one of the stars of last summer's street racing hit, "The Fast and the Furious."

The new Bond picture is scheduled for a Nov. 22, 2002 release -- marking the 40th anniversary of the Bond series. The screenplay was written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who collaborated on the 1999 Bond entry, "The World Is Not Enough."


SHOOTING DOWN THE CANCER RUMOR

Gossip columnist Liz Smith reports that Nicole Kidman is taking on a tabloid newspaper over a published report that she had a cancer scare and a biopsy.

The Star published the story, even though Kidman says she told a Star reporter it wasn't accurate.

"I am flabbergasted and more than a little horrified," Kidman told Smith. "We told them when they called with this rumor that it was absolutely untrue. Yet they've ignored us and concocted a story anyway. I cannot believe anyone would do something so completely irresponsible and so cruel!"

Kidman, who is in Sweden filming "Dogville" with director Lars von Trier ("Dancer in the Dark," "Breaking the Waves"), told Smith she is in good health and plans to travel to Beverly Hills, Calif., for the Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 20.

She is nominated for best actress in a drama movie for "The Other" and for best actress in a musical or comedy movie for "Moulin Rouge."


'SNL' ALUMNUS GETS HIS OWN PRIMETIME SHOW

NBC has announced that former "Saturday Night Live" writer and "Weekend Update" anchor Colin Quinn will host a new live comedy/variety show, but the network did not announce a date for the premiere.

The new show will be executive produced by "SNL" godfather Lorne Michaels, and will feature a topical monologue, guest stars and sketch comedy.


STARS COME OUT FOR SWEEPS

NBC has announced a series of high-profile guest appearances on its half-hour comedies, intended to spike interest in the shows for the upcoming February sweeps -- one of three times each year that networks roll out the heavy artillery in a campaign to maximize ratings and set the highest possible advertising rates.

Rosie O'Donnell will appear on "Will & Grace" on Jan. 31. Ray Liotta ("Hannibal," "GoodFellas") will appear on "Just Shoot Me" the same night.

Matt Damon shows on the following week on "Will & Grace." And Michael Keaton ("Batman," "Beetlejuice") will guest star on "Frasier" on Feb. 26.


ACTORS APPLAUD CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR

Screen Actors Guild leaders are applauding California Gov. Gray Davis for a proposal he is offering intended to fight Hollywood's runaway production problem.

SAG president Melissa Gilbert and treasurer Kent McCord joined Davis as he announced his proposal to create new tax breaks for producers who keep their movie and TV projects in California -- rather than take the word out of the country to take advantage of cheaper production costs in places like Canada and Australia.

"Governor Davis' proposal is an important advancement in SAG's efforts to bring attention to the problem of runaway production," said Gilbert.

The union has been involved in the battle against runaway production for a long time. As far back as 1949, SAG president Ronald Reagan went to the White House to talk about the issue with President Harry Truman.

© 2002 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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