JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT ...
There is talk in Hollywood of a new "Godfather" movie, to be based on an upcoming installment of the late Mario Puzo's tales of Don Vito Corleone, his family and their life of crime.
Daily Variety reported that Paramount will have first dibs on screen rights to the next book, currently "in the planning stages" at Random House. A Random House executive said it wasn't clear whether Paramount -- which produced the original "Godfather" movies -- would take the deal.
"We hope Paramount or some other studio will want to buy the movie rights," said Random House Trade Group Vice President and Senior Editor Jonathan Karp, "and it is our intention to see that happen."
Variety said Karp has been trying for months to nail down a deal with Puzo's estate to hire another writer to carry on the author's work. Karp -- who was Puzo's editor when the author died of heart failure at 78 in 1999 -- said Random House has struck a deal with Puzo's estate, which controls literary rights to the author's characters.
"These characters just keep pulling you back in," he said.
SORTING OUT 'POTTER' BOOK CONFUSION
Harry Potter fans were excited Monday at news reports that author J.K. Rowling might be planning an eighth Potter book -- one more than everyone had expected -- but it turned out that there was nothing to the speculation, and Rowling still plans to put the series to bed after seven books.
The speculation grew out of news accounts that Warner Bros. -- which has so far snagged the movie rights to the first four Potter books -- had registered four more titles with the U.K. Patent Office in April 2000. In addition "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" -- the title of the long-delayed fifth book -- the studio also registered "Harry Potter and the Alchemist's Cell," "Harry Potter and the Chariots of Light" and "Harry Potter and the Pyramids of Furmat."
It turned out that "Alchemist's Cell," "Chariots of Light" and "Pyramids of Furmat" were decoys, filed merely to protect the title of a book that was still not finished.
Both Rowling's literary agent and her publisher, Bloomsbury Publishing, have insisted that there will be just seven Potter books -- one for each year that the young wizard attends Hogwarts Academy of Wizardry and Witchcraft.
The four Potter books already published have sold 175 million copies worldwide. Warner Bros.' movie of the first Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," has grossed more than $900 million around the world. The upcoming movie version of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" opens on Nov. 15.
JOHN WOO'S NEXT?
Hollywood's fascination with Philip K. Dick ("Blade Runner," "Total Recall," "Minority Report") continues.
There are reports that director John Woo ("Windtalkers," "Mission: Impossible II") is in talks to direct a screen version of "Paycheck" -- Dick's story about an electrician who finishes a two-year stint on a job with no memory of what he has done and nothing to show for his labor but a bag of apparently meaningless junk. He has to use the stuff to solve the mystery before the authorities send him to jail.
"Paycheck" was originally published in Imagination magazine in 1953.
END OF THE ROAD FOR 'ARLI$$'
HBO will call it a day for the sports agent comedy "Arli$$" after seven seasons.
That isn't much of a surprise, since the cable network had already announced plans to drop the show. However, after Robert Wuhl's series about a high-powered sports agent scored the highest ratings in its history, there was some speculation that HBO might try to find a way to bring it back for one more season.
That's not going to happen, but The Hollywood Reporter said Tuesday that Wuhl -- who created and starred in the show -- is likely to develop another new show for HBO.
RICKLES GETS HIS OWN TRADING CARD
Don Rickles has a new gig as honorary captain of the University of Arizona Icecats hockey team for the upcoming 2002-03 season.
"You don't get a greater giant in entertainment than Mr. Rickles," said Icecats coach Leo Golembiewski. "He became a friend of ours and we are honored to have him as part of our team."
Rickles -- whose insult comedy popularized the use of "hockey puck" as an epithet -- said he was pleased that the team chose him as honorary captain.
"I know they'll do me proud," he said. "If not, I'm going to invite them to leave Tucson and come to one of my Las Vegas shows, and then make them sit outside in the desert and let them watch their skates melt."
Rickles will also receive a rare honor, as the team's trading card set for this season will include -- in addition to the coach and key players -- a Rickles card.