Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   Jan. 10, 2003 at 3:00 AM   |   0 comments

SONY CHIEF QUITS

Tommy Mottola, Sony Music's high-powered chairman and chief executive, reportedly has stepped down from his post effective immediately.

E! Online reports the man who launched the careers of Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Jennifer Lopez, and Sony, jointly announced Thursday he was leaving the company after 14 years to launch his own label.

"I have been thinking about taking up this new challenge for about a year, and really made the decision to go forward only recently," Mottola said in a statement. "I am thrilled that I will continue my long-standing

relationship with Sony to create a company that I believe will become a blueprint for the music business in the coming years."

Mottola is not expected to take any Sony artists with him, E! reported. Sony said it expects to name a successor within days.


'SURREAL LIFE' DEBUTS ON WB

Corey Feldman, Gabrielle Carteris, Emmanuel Lewis, MC Hammer and Vince Neil are making headlines again, but probably not the ones they dreamed they would be.

The former entertainment icons can be seen on the WB's new one-hour reality show, "The Surreal Life," which debuted Thursday night, opposite NBC ratings magnet "Will & Grace."

Loosely modeled after MTV's long-running "Real World" series, this new show features various washed-up child stars, recovering addicts and singers who have found God, all living together in a dorm-style house in the Hollywood Hills for 10 days. TV cameras run constantly and all phone calls are monitored, while cell phones and guests are banned.

Described as a "live-in sit-com," the show also features "Baywatch" babe Brande Roderick and "Survivor: The Outback" contestant Jerri Manthey.


REILLY STARS IN 2002'S TOP FILMS

Four of the most diverse, highly acclaimed films of 2002 share a single common element -- John C. Reilly.

Considered one of Hollywood's most reliable character actors in the past decade ("Boogie Nights," "A Perfect Storm,") the 37-year-old Chicago native proved he was ready for larger roles by giving a series of exceptional

performances in last year's indie favorite, "The Good Girl," Martin Scorsese's sweeping epic "Gangs of New York," the dazzling musical "Chicago" and the heart-wrenching Virginia Woolf drama, "The Hours."

"I try to make myself invisible, so that you can see the character better," Reilly recently told United Press International, explaining how he came to be one of the hardest-working actors in the industry. "I would much

rather work from inside the character and try to really become that person. I think people relate to the characters I do because I work really hard to make them real -- to make them as complicated as human beings really are."

In preparing for the majority of his roles last year, three of which had him playing husbands trapped in unhappy, even tragic, marriages, Reilly says he found inspiration in a long line of "tramp clowns" or "archetypical,

sad-sack vaudevillian guys," particularly Stan Laurel, Emmett Kelly, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.

Discussing the part he plays in the big-screen adaptation of the musical, "Chicago," Reilly describes his character, Amos, a.k.a. Mr. Cellophane, as a "mechanic desperately in love with this girl and she keeps doing him wrong, but he loves her so much, he just can't see the truth."

"That's a through-line that a lot of my characters have for whatever reason... Your guess is as good as mine why people see this in me, this kind of willfully ignoring reality or they're just naïve to it," Reilly said.

Excellent at conveying pathos, the actor plays a similarly cuckolded husband in "The Good Girl," a small-town dark comedy that garnered Independent Spirit Award nominations for both Reilly and leading lady Jennifer Aniston.


WILLIS TO PLAY AMNESIAC

Bruce Willis reportedly is planning to play an amnesiac in the crime drama, "Me Again," once he has finished filming the sequel to "The Whole Nine Yards."

Set to begin production in April, the film casts Willis as a man who wakes up in a hotel room with a dead body and no memory, who must determine if he's a hitman or the undercover cop assigned to catch the assassin, Variety reported Thursday.

"Galaxy Quest" helmer Dean Parisot will direct the Intermedia Films project, while Willis' Cheyenne Enterprises is on board as a producer.


FOWLER, JACKMAN STAR IN 'THE BOY FROM OZ'

Acclaimed Broadway actress Beth Fowler is set to join Hugh Jackman in the cast of the new musical, "The Boy From Oz."

Fowler currently is starring as Mrs. Potts in the Broadway production of "Beauty and the Beast," but will switch shows when "Oz" opens at the Imperial Theatre on Oct. 16, the show's producers said Thursday.

"The Boy From Oz" is the dazzling, funny and heart-breaking story of Peter Allen from humble beginnings growing up in the Australian outback through a meteoric rise to fame and international stardom. Fowler will play the role of Marion Woolnough, Peter Allen's mother. Jackman, best known for his roles in the films "Kate & Leopold" and "X-Men," plays Peter Allen.

Produced by Ben Gannon and Robert Fox, "The Boy From Oz" is directed by Philip Wm. McKinley, choreographed by Joey McKneely and features the music of Peter Allen and a book by Martin Sherman.


CELINE TO SING AT SUPER BOWL

Canadian crooner Celine Dion is expected to sing "God Bless America" before Super Bowl XXXVII at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego Jan. 26, the NFL said.

The Grammy Award-winning singer will perform as part of the pre-game show before the Dixie Chicks' rendition of the National Anthem. The game will be televised by ABC to an expected 130 million viewers in the United States and

800 million viewers worldwide. The Super Bowl is annually the nation's highest-rated TV program and the most-watched single-day sporting event.

David Foster, who has won 14 Grammy Awards himself, will create the arrangement to "God Bless America" for Dion. Her performance marks the first time "God Bless America" has been performed at the Super Bowl. Last year, Marc Anthony

and Mary J. Blige sang "America the Beautiful."

"I'm honored to be asked to sing this meaningful song at the Super Bowl," Dion said. "I hope that this new year brings peace to the world."

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