Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter  |  April 5, 2002 at 7:56 PM
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Richard Parsons and Robert Pittman -- the honchos at AOL Time Warner -- shoved Viacom's Sumner Redstone out of the top spot in an annual ranking of the most powerful players in Hollywood.

Redstone is No. 2 on Premiere Magazine's 2002 Power List of the 100 most influential people in Hollywood, followed by studio chiefs Jean-Marie Messier and Barry Diller, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Disney boss Michel Eisner and director-producer Steven Spielberg.

The highest-ranking actor on the list is Tom Hanks, at No. 15. Tom Cruise is No. 17 and Mel Gibson is No. 17. The highest-ranking actress is Julia Roberts at No. 18.

George Clooney jumped from No. 42 last year to No. 27 this year -- one rung above Russell Crowe, who moved up from No. 41 last year. Newcomers to the list include Nicole Kidman (No. 83), Vin Diesel (No. 95), Reese Witherspoon (No. 96) and Renée Zellweger (No. 97).


According to a report in Daily Variety, Columbia Pictures has signed most of the creative team behind "Spider-Man" for a sequel.

That includes stars Tobey Maguire and Kirstin Dunst, director Sam Raimi and producers Laura Ziskin, Avi Arad and Ian Bryce. Plans calls for the second installment to begin shooting early next year.

Columbia executive vice president Matt Tolmach told Variety the studio doesn't need to see how "Spider-Man" performs in the marketplace next month -- it's ready to commit now to the sequel.

"All of this because of our complete belief in the movie," said Tolmach.

Alfred Gough and Miles Millar -- who wrote the Jackie Chan-Owen Wilson hit "Shanghai Noon" and went on to create and produce the WB TV series "Smallville" -- will write the "Spider-Man" sequel. Gough and Millar also wrote the Eddie Murphy-Robert De Niro comedy "Showtime," now playing in theaters.


The line has officially formed outside Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood for the May 16 opening of "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones."

Just a handful of fans got there the first day, but their number will grow over the next six weeks, as hardcore "Star Wars" people take pains to guarantee that they're in the house when the lights go down for the first screening.

While they're waiting, those fans will also be raising funds for the Starlight Children's Foundation -- an international non-profit that works on behalf of seriously ill children and their families.


Jim Brown -- the NFL Hall of Famer who is serving a six-month jail term rather than perform community service for vandalizing his wife's car -- says violence is a thing of the past for him.

"I will never again raise my hand to anyone regardless of what they do to me," said Brown in an interview with Bob Costas the HBO show "On the Record." "It's such a weak gesture. I regret any physical acts against anyone."

Brown -- widely regarded as the greatest football player of all time -- was convicted of misdemeanor vandalism stemming from an argument with his wife in 1999. A Los Angeles judge ordered Brown to participate in domestic violence counseling and to choose between 40 days on a road cleaning detail or 400 hours of community service. The judge also ordered Brown to pay fines totaling $1,800 and placed him on three years' probation.

After Brown refused, the judge sent him to jail.

Brown's movie acting resume includes such features as "Any Given Sunday," "Ice Station Zebra" and "The Dirty Dozen."


Carl Hiassen -- the novelist who doubles as a columnist for the Miami Herald -- has struck a deal with Fox 2000 for his newest crime novel, "Basket Case."

It's described as the tale of a former investigate reporter who is demoted to the obituary desk at his Florida paper -- where he becomes suspicious about the details surrounding the death of an aging rock musician.

Hiassen's 1994 novel "Striptease" was made into the critical and commercial bomb of the same name, starring Demi Moore.


Oprah Winfrey says she is glad that Phil Donahue is coming back to TV -- especially since his show and hers won't be competing for the same audience.

Winfrey -- whose show owes much to Donahue's work in the decades before she started -- acknowledged in an interview with "Access Hollywood" that Donahue "started this entire talk show genre" and it's good to see him working again.

"I am where I am because there was a Phil," said Winfrey. "If there hadn't been a Phil, I don't think there could have been an Oprah.

"I think that television needs him, we've missed him," she said. "He just disappeared, so I'm glad to see that he's coming back. But I'm glad that I don't have to compete against him!"

Donahue has signed to do a show on the cable news channel MSNBC.

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