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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   Sept. 6, 2002 at 7:34 PM   |   Comments

WHO SHOT TUPAC?

Police in Las Vegas have never charged anyone with the 1996 shooting death of rap star Tupac Shakur, but the Los Angeles Times reported Friday that it had cracked the case.

The Times spent one year investigating the homicide, and concluded that the killer was Orlando Anderson -- a member of the Crips street gang who had been beaten by Shakur and his entourage at the MGM Grand a few hours before Shakur was shot and killed. Anderson later died in an unrelated gang shooting.

The paper said Anderson and other members of his gang struck a deal earlier in the evening for Shakur's rival Notorious B.I.G. to pay them $1 million to hit Shakur -- and that B.I.G. insisted that they do the job with his own personal gun.

B.I.G. was shot and killed six months later. That case remains unsolved.

The Times story was the first of a two-part series. The paper said part two on Saturday would look at the police investigation.


OH, A TOUGH GUY

If Mel Gibson hadn't been such a ruffian he might never have become an international movie star -- at least that's the story he told the New York Daily News.

According to the paper, Gibson got into a brawl with three guys at a bar the night before he auditioned for the futuristic classic "Mad Max," and almost blew off the audition.

"They broke my nose," said Gibson. "I had two black eyes. My jaw was puffy. Everyone was telling me not to go to the audition, but I went anyway and they just loved the way I looked. I think, without that beating, I would not have gotten the 'Mad Max' part."

Gibson's current hit, "Signs," is expected to go over $200 million at the U.S. box office this weekend, making it the biggest hit of his career.


WILL 'WEDDING' REACH THE TOP?

Analysts are speculating that the long-running sleeper hit "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" could provide another surprise this weekend by finishing No. 1 at the U.S. box office.

The picture has grossed more than $82 million in 20 weeks in release, slowly building its business by word of mouth and rising to the No. 2 spot over Labor Day weekend. It will be showing in 1,696 theaters this weekend.

The major competition this weekend will come from the new Robert De Niro cop drama "City by the Sea."


THE KID STAYS IN THE SEQUEL

Producer Robert Evans ("Chinatown," "Urban Cowboy") told an audience in Deauville, France, that he's putting together a sequel to "The Kid Stays in the Picture" -- the documentary based on his best-selling 1996 autobiography of the same name.

Speaking at the American Film Festival on Thursday, Evans said "The Fat Lady Sings" will tell the story of his recovery from a stroke in 1998. Evans said he does not have a publishing deal yet, but he said Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter -- who produced the documentary version of "The Kid Stays in the Picture" -- has the film rights to "The Fat Lady Sings."


WHAT HE REALLY WANTS TO DO IS DIRECT ... AN OPERA

Director Garry Marshall ("The Princess Diaries," "Pretty Woman") is planning to branch out, by directing an opera or operetta.

Marshall told Daily Variety he wants to take on the Jacques Offenbach comic opera "The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein," with Frederica Van Stade starring, in the 2004-05 season. He said the thought struck him after seeing fellow film director William Friedkin's ("The Exorcist," "The French Connection") staging of "Duke Bluebeard's Castle" and "Gianni Schicchi."

"I thought it would be a great challenge," Marshall said. "I have a lot to learn, and I'll have a few years to study how to do this."

Marshall joins a growing list of Hollywood directors undertaking to stage opera -- including Bruce Beresford ("Rigoletto"), Herb Ross ("La Boheme") and John Schlesinger ("Billy Budd"). "Moulin Rouge" director Baz Luhrmann is working on his own staging of "La Boheme."


E! PLANS ORIGINAL NEW SHOWS

E! Entertainment Television has plans to bring some new reality shows to cable, including one in which stars reveal their dating secrets and another in which a hypnotist will try to get subjects to believe they are well-known celebrities.

"Star Dates" will feature single celebrities going public with secrets about their dating lives. "Headgames" features hypnotist Ricky Kalmon ("The Daily Show," "Talk Soup") using post-hypnotic suggestions to get people to believe they are their favorite stars.

Another show on the E! drawing board, "Stargazers," puts a new twist on the old "Candid Camera" concept -- sending celebrities into the streets with hidden cameras to record the reactions of unsuspecting people whom they encounter in public.

E! has enjoyed record-high ratings for its reality-based comedy "The Anna Nicole Show," which presents an up-close-and-perhaps-too-personal look at the private life of Playmate and supermodel Anna Nicole Smith.


CASTING NOTES

Heather Locklear ("Spin City," "Melrose Place") will guest-star in two episodes of the NBC hospital comedy "Scrubs" in November, playing a pharmaceutical sales representative who catches the attention of Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley).

"Scrubs" -- winner of a Humanitas Prize and a nominee for two Emmy Awards in its freshman season -- begins its new season on Sept. 25.

© 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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