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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   Jan. 13, 2003 at 4:16 PM   |   Comments

'FRIENDS' -- AGAIN

Now that a deal is done for a 10th season, producers and actors on "Friends" are talking about possible storylines for 2003-04.

Appearing on "Access Hollywood," "Friends" creator-producer Marta Kauffman acknowledged that there is some anxiety about whether all concerned made the right choice in committing to a 10th season after deciding last year to move on following the show's Emmy-winning 2002-03 season.

"Of course there are nerves about that," she said. "But I also have great faith in this staff and cast to make the show wonderful, funny, original, different."

Kauffman said the producers and writers have "some ideas," but she didn't offer much in the way of specifics.

Lisa Kudrow said the actors were among the last to take up the question of returning -- following decisions by NBC and Warner Bros. Television, which produces the show, and by Kauffman and the other produces.

"There was a lot of talk among the cast, how many (episodes) would be reasonable to do, how many we felt like doing," said Kudrow. "At this point, everybody is at such a different stage of their life that doing this show might not suit everybody's life right now. We're doing 18 shows and then that's it."

Matthew Perry said the deciding factor for him was that making "Friends" is still fun.

"We are having a blast doing it, a really fun time," said Perry. "It's sad to think about ending."


AL AND PEG TOGETHER AGAIN

Fox is planning a "Married ... with Children" reunion show for the upcoming February ratings sweeps.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the cast of "Married ... with Children" -- including Ed O'Neill, Katey Sagal, Christina Applegate and David Faustino -- gathered over the weekend to tape the one-hour special in a replica of the living room where the Bundy family did its worst for 10 years (1987-97) to make a mockery of domestic tranquility.

The reunion show comes less than two weeks after the Feb. 4 release of the first of two "Married ... with Children: The Most Outrageous Episodes" DVDs, each containing five episodes of the show that provoked criticism for its often vulgar portrayal of an American family.


CASTING NOTES

John Travolta will reportedly co-star with Joaquin Phoenix in "Ladder 49" -- about a fireman trapped in a burning building, whose life passes before his eyes.

Written by Lewis Colick ("October Sky," "Ghosts of Mississippi"), "Ladder 49" is being directed by Jay Russell ("Tuck Everlasting," "My Dog Skip").

There is also word in Hollywood that Robin Williams will star in "The Big White," a dark comedy about a travel agent who wants to move to a warmer climate, hoping it will help his wife's health improve.

To get money for the move, he steals a dead body and tries to pass it off as that of his long-lost brother -- without realizing that the body had been hidden away by two hit men, who need to get it back.


'LORD OF THE RINGS,' 'CHICAGO' NAB CRITICS AWARDS

The Online Film Critics Society has named "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" best picture of 2002, while critics in Dallas have gone with "Chicago."

The online critics gave their directing award to "The Lord of the Rings" director-producer Peter Jackson, and named Daniel Day-Lewis ("Gangs of New York") best actor and Julianne Moore ("Far from Heaven") best actress,

The Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association also went with Moore for best actress, and gave its best actor prize to Jack Nicholson for "About Schmidt." The Dallas critics also named Jackson best director.


SONNENFELD LEAVES 'LEMONY SNICKET' PROJECT

Barry Sonnenfeld has withdrawn as director of "Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events," causing speculation about whether he quit or was replaced.

According to a report in Daily Variety, Sonnenfeld ("Men in Black," "Wild Wild West") left the project after Paramount and Nickelodeon Films worked out a deal with DreamWorks to partner on the production. DreamWorks executives Walter Parkes, Laurie MacDonald and Steven Spielberg will reportedly guide the project, and Variety said Sonnenfeld does not get along with Parkes -- who produced the director's 2002 hit "Men in Black II."

Variety said Sonnenfeld stayed with the "Lemony Snicket" project even after producer Scott Rudin left in a budget dispute with Paramount. Citing sources, the paper said Sonnenfeld's agent has now been told that Paramount and DreamWorks were replacing him.

A Paramount spokesman said the studio did not fire Sonnenfeld, and that he withdrew from the project on his own.

Jim Carrey is scheduled to star in the movie version of the best-selling books by the mysterious author Lemony Snicket, with illustrations by Brett Helquist.

© 2003 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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