Entertainment Today: Showbiz news

By United Press International   |   March 1, 2002 at 4:45 AM   |   0 comments

MEL GIBSON

To prepare for his role as Gen. Harold G. Moore in the Vietnam war flick "We Were Soldiers," Mel Gibson said he went through boot camp, read everything he could get his hands on and spent hours talking to the real Gen. Moore.

"It's great (playing a character based on a real person, but) it's tricky because the guy is there," Gibson admitted. "It's also easier because the guy is there. You can ask him any question because he's really frank and honest about what he sees ..."

The 46-year-old actor told reporters that it's important to Moore that the story gets told, "so he gets closure, the boys get their due." He said the retired general still has "an amazing, amazing relationship" with the men in his unit and that "they still call him up all hours of the night with their problems. ... The guys love him because he loves everyone of his kids like they were his kids."

Although Gibson said he enjoyed the excitement and trials of boot camp, he admitted he would probably make a pretty sorry soldier in real life. "(I would probably be) the one you see running away," he joked.

The movie -- based on the real-life experiences of Moore and former UPI correspondent Joe Galloway -- opens nationwide Friday.

(Thanks to UPI's Karen Butler in New York)


MATT DAMON

Matt Damon is lending his voice to the DreamWorks Pictures' animated feature "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron." The actor will provide first-person narration for the title character, a wild and rambunctious mustang stallion that defies being broken, even as he develops a friendship with a young Lakota brave named Little Creek.

"Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" also features the voice talents of James Cromwell, who plays a Cavalry Colonel determined to break this defiant mustang; and Native American actor Daniel Studi, who is the voice of Little Creek.

The movie is due to open May 24 nationwide.


WATCHING 'ELLIE'

Julia Louis-Dreyfus' new NBC comedy ''Watching Ellie" is off to a strong start in the ratings, drawing an audience estimated at 16.7 million during its premiere Tuesday night -- second to CBS's ''JAG'' in its time slot.

It was a stronger performance than that turned in by new comedies starring Louis-Dreyfus' former "Seinfeld" cast mates. ''The Michael Richards Show'' debuted to 13.2 million viewers in October 2000, and Jason Alexander's ''Bob Patterson'' drew just 9.8 million viewers when it premiered last year. Both have since been canceled.


SEND IN THE 'CLONES'

Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox have announced that "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones" will premiere on May 12 in 11 cities across the United States and Canada, with benefit screenings to raise funds for local charities.

"Throughout the years, 'Star Wars' films have entertained generations of children," said producer-director George Lucas. "I'm delighted that these premieres will provide an opportunity to benefit the children who need it the most."

Screenings are scheduled to raise funds for Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, Metropolitan Family Services of Chicago, The Family Place in Dallas, The Kempe Children's Foundation in Denver, The Fulfillment Fund in Los Angeles, Children's Aid Society in New York, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, The California Mentor Foundation in San Francisco, Childhaven in Seattle, Child Find Ontario and For Love of Children, Inc. in Washington, D.C.

The charities will receive portions of the box-office receipts from the screenings and a limited number of tickets to give to disadvantaged children.

(The above two items thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)


MELANIE GRIFFITH

Carrie Fisher talks with fellow second-generation actress and Oscar nominee Melanie Griffith in the next "Conversations From The Edge with Carrie Fisher" on March 31 (at 7 p.m. ET) on the Oxygen network. Griffith discusses her life as the daughter of legendary Alfred Hitchcock heroine Tippi Hedren, her rise to becoming an A-List actress, her personal battles with substance abuse, and her marriages to actors Don Johnson, Steven Bauer, and current husband Antonio Banderas.


JOHN MADDEN

When the Fox Sports network reported a $397 million loss on its NFL contract, it reportedly asked John Madden to accept a substantial pay cut from his $7.5 million annual salary as part of his contract extension. But Madden declined its offer and Fox agreed to let him out of his contract, even though there is a year to run on it.

He'll now join Al Michaels in the booth of ABC's "Monday Night Football." Word is that comedian Dennis Miller will be given much less to do -- or perhaps dismissed with a year left on his contract.

Meanwhile, Madden continues to commute between contests by train and in his much-publicized bus. He's still afraid of flying.

(Thanks to UPI's Dennis Daily)

© 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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