Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter  |  May 20, 2002 at 4:53 PM
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Hollywood backed away from terrorism-related themes and images after the Sept. 11 attacks, and has gingerly been returning to that type of material this year.

"The Sum of All Fears" offers a chance to show what you might call "full frontal" terrorism on the screen for the first time since last September -- with scenes of destruction on a massive scale, widespread panic among the public and a president airborne in the National Airborne Command Center while an international crisis rages on the ground.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the political thriller, based on the 1991 Tom Clancy novel, will be premiered in Washington, D.C. Wednesday night for an audience consisting largely of Washington politicians.

The paper said that Paramount is taking steps to discourage the notion that it is cashing in on Sept. 11, by playing up the high degree of cooperation the project received from the Pentagon.

Disney is also releasing a terrorist-themed movie this summer. "Bad Company" stars Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock in a story about a terrorist plot to plant a nuclear bomb in Grand Central Station.


Angelina Jolie has donated $100,000 to help train refugees from Myanmar for new jobs.

The Oscar-winning actress, who is in Thailand shooting the movie "Beyond Borders," serves as goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. In a visit to the Tham Hin refugee camp on the Thai border with Myanmar on Sunday, she told reporters the camps help prepare refugees from internal conflict and government oppression in Myanmar prepare to return home some day.

"Living in a camp is a horrible situation," she said. "They need educational and vocational training to help them prepare for when they might go home."

An estimated 120,000 refugees -- mostly from Myanmar (Burma) -- live in camps in Thailand. Jolie shot much of "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" in nearby Cambodia.

"Beyond Borders" is described as a romance, set against the backdrop of the world's most dangerous hot spots. Jolie plays an American, married to the son of a British industrialist, who accompanies an idealistic doctor on a relief mission in war-torn Africa.


Lara Croft may not be a real flesh and blood person, but she has a Hollywood agent.

Creative Artists Agency has announced a deal to represent the character -- best known to fans as the star of a series of video games and last summer's box-office hit, "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider." CAA has plans to market Lara Croft beyond the gamer world, with apparel, publishing, consumer product tie-ins and a TV show based on her exploits.

It's believed to be the first time that a Hollywood agency has taken on a video game character as a client. CAA already represents game developers, including Microsoft's Xbox console and games.


Penélope Cruz has agreed to star in the fourth movie version of "Fanfan la Tulipe" -- a swashbuckler action-comedy that was filmed in 1907, 1926 and, most recently, in 1952 with Gina Lollobrigida and Gérard Philipe.

Vincent Perez ("The Queen of the Damned") will star as Fanfan -- a handsome young 18th century peasant who joins the French army after a fortuneteller predicts he will be a hero and marry the king's daughter. The prediction turns out to be a scam, but the young man decides to fulfill the prophecy anyway.

Luc Besson ("The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc," "The Fifth Element") wrote the screenplay and is producing the movie.


Ellen DeGeneres has not found the key to a long-running half-hour TV comedy, but she thinks her luck will change when she launches a syndicated talk show next year.

"It's a job I think I'm made for," said DeGeneres, whose next immediate gig takes her to Las Vegas for one night only.

DeGeneres is hosting the VH1 special "Divas Las Vegas," set to air Thursday night.

The fifth "Divas" special on the cable network features the Mary J. Blige, Cher, Dixie Chicks and Celine Dion in concert from the MGM Grand.


Disney is planning a big screen version of the 1980's TV show "The Greatest American Hero."

William Katt starred in the TV show as a Los Angeles area teacher who is set-upon by extraterrestrials and given a special costume that allows him to wield superpowers. The complication is that he loses the instruction manual and spends much of his time learning the hard way how to be a superhero.

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