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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter

KEN BURNS' 'GREATEST HITS'

PBS is repacking some of Peabody Award-winning documentarian Ken Burns' projects into a new weekly series this fall.

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"Ken Burns American Stories," launching in September, will follow a special rebroadcast of the project that made Burns a superstar -- "The Civil War." A completely remastered print of the five-part series will be shown on consecutive nights beginning Sept. 22.

After that, PBS plans to show Burns films each Monday, beginning on Sept. 30 with "The Statue of Liberty."

The rest of the schedule features "Frank Lloyd Wright (Parts 1 & II)," "Brooklyn Bridge," "Thomas Jefferson (Parts I & II)," "Mark Twain (Parts I & II)," "Jazz (Episode Four)," "Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio," "Thomas Hart Benton," "The Shakers: Hands to Work," "Hearts to God" and "Huey Long."

Other Burns projects, including "Baseball," will show up on PBS in the winter and spring of 2003.


'DIRTY DANCING' SEQUEL ON THE WAY

Plans are under way in Hollywood for a sequel to "Dirty Dancing," the 1987 movie hit that made stars out of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.

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The project, "Havana Nights," set in 1959 Cuba, is described as the story of a 17-year-old American girl in pre-Castro Cuba, who upsets her family when she falls in love with a dancer. Naturally, the experience leads her to a self-discovery and a whole new world.

Guy Ferland ("The Shield," "Ed") is reportedly on board to direct.


CASTING NOTES

According to published reports in Hollywood, Edward Furlong ("Terminator 2: Judgment Day") and Natasha Lyonne ("American Pie," "Kate & Leopold") are set to star in "Max and Grace."

It's described as the story of suicidal lovers who get married on the psychiatric ward, then bust out of the hospital on a quest for mutual self-destruction. Once they're free, they learn to love life.


NINE MORE 'YARDS'

Plans are under way for a sequel to the Bruce Willis-Matthew Perry caper-comedy "The Whole Nine Yards," with Willis returning as a professional hitman in hiding.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Howard Deutch ("The Replacements," "Some Kind of Wonderful") is in talks to direct, and Perry is in talks to return as a mild-mannered dentist who escapes danger for a happier life through his involvement with his hitman neighbor.

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Natasha Henstridge and Amanda Peet are also reported in talks to reprise their roles from the 2000 original.


WOO'S FUTURE PLANS

John Woo ("Windtalkers," "Mission: Impossible II") told reporters in Hong Kong Tuesday he plans to ask Nicolas Cage and Chow Yun-Fat to star in his next film, set against the massive railroad building in the United States in the 19th century.

The Hong Kong action-master said the movie, "Land of Destiny," will be considerably different from the movies that made his reputation -- such as "Face/Off" and "Broken Arrow." He said it will be a story about people -- mainly about the Chinese and Irish immigrants whose labor contributed so much to the railway projects.


BROSNAN MISUNDERSTOOD?

The New York Daily News reports that Pierce Brosnan is trying to defuse a controversy surrounding comments he made about terrorism and entertainment during a recent press junket.

The paper said some families of Sept. 11 victims were angry after being told that Brosnan was quoted as saying the terrorist attacks will "fade in people's minds" and that terrorists will still figure into action films. Stephen Push and his group, Families of Sept. 11, are demanding an apology.

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"His statement is hurtful and insulting," said Push. "I think it would be very unfortunate if Sept. 11 was forgotten. Everyone in the public eye should be using their prominence to remind people of the event and (urging them) not to become complacent."

Brosnan's publicist, Dick Guttman, told the paper Brosnan didn't exactly say what the Sept. 11 families think he said.

According to Guttman, Brosnan actually said: "There's a society in Hollywood that makes exploitation films. Our sensitivities about Sept. 11 will fade somewhat in the minds of men and women who make exploitation films."

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