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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   April 9, 2002 at 4:22 PM   |   Comments

NEVER SAY NEVER

An announcement was expected as soon as Tuesday that New Line Cinema has struck a deal with MGM and United Artists that will clear the way for the third Austin Powers movie to use the title "Austin Powers in Goldmember."

That had been the title until MGM/UA capitalized on New Line's failure to register it properly, and won a court order forbidding the studio from using it because it too closely resembles the 1964 James Bond title "Goldfinger." While New Line has reportedly considered using other titles consistent with the Bond spoof mentality of Mike Myers' Powers movie, the studio has also kept alive the possibility of convincing MGM/UA to allow the use of "Goldmember."

The studios are expected to announce a deal in which New Line will run trailers for several MGM movies -- including the upcoming Bond picture "Die Another Day" -- ahead of the Austin Powers movie and "The Lord of the Rings."

"Goldmember" -- or whatever the movie ends up being called -- is due to open in U.S. theaters on July 26.


WESTLAKE HEADED BACK TO BIG SCREEN

Talks are reportedly under way to adapt Donald E. Westlake's Dortmunder novel "Bad News" for the screen, with Oscar-winning director Milos Forman ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "Amadeus") at the helm.

"Bad News" features Westlake's popular smalltime crook John Dortmunder and his smalltime crook pals Andrew Kelp and Stan -- first introduced to American movie audiences in the 1972 caper comedy "The Hot Rock," starring Robert Redford and George Segal.


DUCHOVNY AS ELLROY?

According to a report in Daily Variety, David Duchovny will play crime novelist James Ellroy ("L.A. Confidential") in a movie adaptation of "My Dark Places" -- Ellroy's memoir about his long-running mission to solve the 1958 murder of his mother.

Ellroy told Variety it is "odd" to see Duchovny playing him, since the former star of "The X-Files" doesn't resemble him at all.

"But I met David for the first time ... on Saturday," said Ellroy, "and he impressed me as a sharp and alert guy. I've no doubt he can pull it off."

Shooting is expected to begin in June in Los Angeles.


FILLING THE BOOK CLUB GAP

Now that Oprah Winfrey has cut back on her popular book club feature, executives at NBC have moved in to fill the breach -- announcing that the "Today" show will launch a new feature designed to introduce new authors, in much the same way as Oprah's book club did.

The "Today" club will meet monthly and ask established authors to recommend books by unknown writers. Winfrey announced on her show last Friday that she will continue to recommend books -- but only occasionally, because she has concluded that there are not enough books that stir her passion to warrant continuing the feature on a regular basis.

"Today" anchors Katie Couric and Matt Lauer will handle the book club chores. NBC's morning news show already features an estimated 200 segments each year on books and their authors.


RUKEYSER'S NEW DEAL

Louis Rukeyser has a new deal to do his weekly finance and business show on CNBC -- just weeks after he was unceremoniously dumped from the show he hosted for 32 years on PBS.

"Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street" will premiere on CNBC on Friday, April 19 at 8:30 p.m. opposite PBS' retooled "Wall $treet Week."

As if that counter-programming move doesn't pose enough of a challenge to the new PBS show, CNBC has also decided to make Rukeyser's show available to any PBS station that wants to rebroadcast it -- as long as they don't run it on Friday. Rukeyser's new CNBC show will run without commercials, but will rely on support from underwriters -- the way they do it on PBS.


KOPPEL'S NEW DEAL

After flaming out in its bungled attempt to replace Ted Koppel and "Nightline" with David Letterman, ABC has struck a deal to keep Koppel and his long-running late night news show in place for at least two more years.

The Walt Disney Co. -- which owns ABC -- said Monday that the new deal would "renew and reaffirm our support for 'Nightline,' one of the network's signature programs."

During the controversy surrounding its handling of the matter Koppel publicly challenged ABC and Disney to give him and his staff a sign that the news show could count on serious corporate support for its future, rather than "bland assurances or a short-term guarantee." Koppel said Monday the new deal makes the show "even stronger than it was before."


NEW FACE ON 'OTHER HALF'

Actor Dorian Gregory, who plays Detective Darryl Morris on "Charmed," is joining Dick Clark, Danny Bonaduce and Mario Lopez on the syndicated talk show "The Other Half" starting Monday, April 15.

Gregory -- who has guest starred on "Lois & Clark," "The Wayans Brothers' Show," "3rd Rock from the Sun," "Moesha," and "The New Adventures of Superman" -- also performs in a hip-hop band, MD Says. He has also served as a national spokesman for the American Diabetes Association.

© 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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