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Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   April 24, 2003 at 3:00 AM   |   Comments

JACKMAN SURPRISED HE GOT 'WOLVERINE' JOB

Australian hunk Hugh Jackman says he was as surprised as anyone when he was hired to play Wolverine in the blockbuster, "X-Men."

Talking to reporters in Pasadena, Calif., the 34-year-old "Swordfish" and "Kate and Leopold" star recalled how he attended a mass "cattle call" audition for the part of the comic-book hero without knowing anything about the character.

"I think they'd just run money, so they thought they'd get (someone starting out,)" Jackman said. "Dougray Scott, who was going to play the role, was not available and I among every actor I know who auditioned for Wolverine."

Jackman said before the audition all he had seen of the script was two pages. "I remember my wife reading it," he said. "It said, 'Wolverine's claws come out of his hands...' and she said, 'You can't do this. This is ridiculous! What is this? You've got claws coming out of you're hands. There's mutants!'"

It's a good thing Jackman didn't take his lovely wife's advice. After several callbacks, Jackman got the job, "X-Men" was a huge blockbuster of 2000 and "X-Men 2: United," due out next week, is one of this year's most eagerly awaited flicks.


ACTORS RAISE $2 MILLION FOR AIDS CHARITY

The casts of dozens of New York shows helped raise more than $2 million for charity by participating in an Easter Bonnet Competition.

Members of more than 40 Broadway, Off-Broadway and National Tour companies earned $2,149,744 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS at the 17th annual event.

"Nine" stars Antonio Banderas and Chita Rivera, and "Hairspray" diva Harvey Fierstein were on hand to present the awards for top fundraising companies, as well as the outstanding bonnet presentation. Banderas himself became a bonus prize as each winning company received their award, they also claimed a kiss from the sexy Spaniard.

This year's fundraising award winners were: Winner: "Hairspray" with $191,000. First Runner Up: "Thoroughly Modern Millie" with $122,200; Second Runner Up: "Mamma Mia!" with $117,800; Third Runner Up: "Les Miserables" with $87,700; and Fourth Runner Up (tie:) "La Boheme" and "The Man of La Mancha," which both raised $81,500.

The results of this year's bonnet presentation were: Winner: "La Boheme;" First Runner Up: "42nd Street;" and Second Runner Up: "Mamma Mia!"

The special award for bonnet design was given to "The Producers," designed by Chris March.

The Easter Bonnet Competition is the culmination of six intensive weeks of fundraising efforts by Broadway and Off-Broadway company members, as well as numerous productions currently on national tour. Curtain speeches, autographed poster and program sales, auctions, and cabaret performances bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars from audiences prior to the competition.


'FEAR OF FLYING' 30 YEARS OLD

"Fear of Flying," Erica Jong's classic feminist novel, will be released in a special 30th anniversary edition next month.

First published in 1973, Jong's novel sold 12 million copies and was hailed by critics for its witty, uninhibited look into the mind and heart of a woman.

Described in The New Yorker by John Updike as "fearless and fresh," "Flying" is about Isadora Wing and her desire to fly -— a story of self-exploration that caused a national sensation in the 1970s and still stands as a timeless tale of self-discovery liberation and womanhood.

Writer Henry Miller compared the book to his own "Tropic of Cancer," predicting "this book will make literary history... because of it women are going to find their own voice and give us great sagas of sex, life, joy, and adventure."

The 30th anniversary edition of the book will feature a new introduction by the author, a Manhattan native who has also written seven award-winning books of poetry, six novels and the memoir, "Fear of Fifty."


FOX PLANS '90210' REUNION

A "Beverly Hills, 90210" reunion is expected to air on Fox TV next month.

Most of the teen soap's cast, including Shannen Doherty (Brenda), Gabrielle Carteris (Andrea), Jennie Garth (Kelly), Luke Perry (Dylan), and Jason Priestley (Brandon), is expected to appear in the one-hour special May 11.

Inexplicably missing from the show, called "Beverly Hills, 90210: 10-year High School Reunion," are original Tori Spelling (Donna), Ian Ziering (Steve), and Brian Austin Green (David.) Also not likely to drop by the Peach Pit is Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry") who briefly played Steve's girlfriend.

The special will feature interviews with the stars as well as favorite moments from the series, which ended its 10-year run in 2000.

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