PRAISE FOR NEW EMINEM MOVIE
An audience at the Toronto Film Festival got a sneak preview this week of "8 Mile," the feature acting debut of rapper Eminem, and at least one newspaper is raving about it.
The New York Post said "8 Mile" is "destined to become the most talked-about movie of the season."
It was shown in Toronto as a "work in progress," with director Curtis Hanson ("Wonder Boys," "L.A. Confidential") reminding the audience that they were seeing a print that still needed some color correction and some sound mixing.
"But being a little raw is not inappropriate under the circumstances," said Hanson.
"8 Mile" stars Eminem in a semi-autobiographical story about a white rapper bucking the odds in his search for respectability as a Detroit rapper. Kim Basinger ("Batman," "L.A. Confidential") co-stars as his mother.
HONORS FOR OPRAH
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has announced that it will honor Oprah Winfrey with its first-ever Bob Hope Humanitarian Award at the 54th annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 22 in Los Angeles.
Tom Hanks will present the award to Winfrey.
Academy CEO Bryce Zabel said the award was instituted to recognize Hope's long tradition of philanthropy and public service.
"The Bob Hope Humanitarian Award is presented to a truly qualified individual in the telecommunications industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry and whose deeds and actions have had a lasting impact on society," said Zabel. "Not only does Oprah represent these qualifications through her extensive public and private philanthropic efforts, she is a lasting role model who has made a positive impact on society."
According to a report in Daily Variety, Natalie Portman ("Star Wars") will star in "Large's Ark" as a woman who changes the life of a young man when he comes home for the first time in 10 years, to attend his father's funeral.
The project will be the feature directing debut for Zach Braff (J.D. on "Scrubs"), who also wrote the screenplay and will star as the central character. Shooting is set to begin early next year, when "Scrubs" is on break and Portman has finished worked on the movie version of Charles Frazier's best-selling novel "Cold Mountain."
'SIXTH SENSE STAR' SET FOR 'PETER PAN'
Olivia Williams ("The Sixth Sense") will play Mrs. Darling in the upcoming movie "Peter Pan," starring newcomer Jeremy Sumpter as Peter and Jason Isaacs ("Black Hawk Down," "The Patriot") as Captain Hook and Mr. Darling.
The movie is being directed by P.J. Hogan ("Muriel's Wedding") from a screenplay by Hogan and Michael Goldenberg ("Contact"), based on the book and play by J.M. Barrie. "Peter Pan" is due in U.S. theaters at Christmas 2003.
'JAG' STAR JOINS CARREY COMEDY
Catherine Bell -- known to TV viewers as Maj. Sarah 'Mac' MacKenzie on the CBS military-legal drama "JAG" -- will join Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman in the cast of the upcoming comedy "Bruce Almighty."
Bell will play a colleague of Carrey's character -- a TV reporter who complains to much about the way things are that God (Freeman) gives him almighty power for one day, just to show that being all powerful isn't as easy at it looks.
RENFRO OUT OF MONSTER SHOWDOWN
Jason Ritter is moving up from a supporting role in the current box-office No. 1 "Swimfan" to a leading role in "Freddy vs. Jason," replacing Brad Renfro in the upcoming horror monster showdown.
Ritter will star with Monica Keena ("Orange County," "Undeclared") and Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland in the story of a group of kids who engineer a colossal battle between "Nightmare on Elm Street's" Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees from "Friday the 13th."
Robert Englund will play Krueger for something like the ninth time. No one has been cast yet to play Jason.
BERENGER TAKES ON 'THE BEAR'
Tom Berenger will play legendary football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant in "The Junction Boys," ESPN's second original TV movie.
The picture is based on Jim Dent's the best-selling book, "The Junction Boys: How Ten Days in Hell with Bear Bryant Forged a Championship Team", an account of the training camp Bryant conducted in Junction, Texas in 1954 -- his first year as head coach at Texas A&M.
The camp -- held in near-drought conditions -- began with 100 players on hand, and ended with just 34 survivors. They went on to win just one game that season but they formed the nucleus of a team that went undefeated two years later.
The movie is scheduled to premiere in December. ESPN's first original movie, "A Season on the Brink," starred Brian Dennehy as legendary college basketball coach Bob Knight.