Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   Oct. 23, 2002 at 6:18 PM
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The name of Stephen Hillenburg might not ring a bell with the average entertainment consumer, but the Princess Grace Foundation saw fit to honor Hillenburg with a Statue Award -- to honor him for creating the Nickelodeon cartoon hit "SpongeBob SquarePants."

Prince Albert of Monaco presented the award to the former marine biologist at a gala in New York Tuesday night.

"It's all pretty flattering," Hillenburg told Daily Variety. "And it's kind of hard to imagine that this character would ever reach this level. There's a kind of classic innocence to SpongeBob that's similar to Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy and Pee-wee Herman."

Hillenburg said much of the credit for "SpongeBob's" success should go to Tom Kenny, who does the character's voice and helps keep SpongeBob simple. Hillenburg is working on a movie version of the TV show, which has become one of Nickelodeon's most popular cartoons since its 1999 debut.


UPN has given a full season order to "The Twilight Zone," the new version of Rod Serling's classic sci-fi series.

The network's entertainment chief, Dawn Ostroff, said the new show has managed to retain close to 75 percent of the lead-in audience for "Enterprise," one of UPN's biggest hits.

"The ratings demonstrate that 'The Twilight Zone' is clearly the best companion series to 'Star Trek' in the history of UPN," said Ostroff, "and we're thrilled to have the show continue to be a part of our schedule."

Forest Whitaker ("Panic Room") hosts the sci-fi anthology series, which has featured such guest stars as Jason Alexander ("Seinfeld"), Portia de Rossi ("Ally McBeal") and Shannon Elizabeth ("American Pie").


NBC has announced that Woody Harrelson ("Cheers," "The People Vs. Larry Flynt") will host the upcoming "Three Stooges' 75th Anniversary Special."

The one-hour special will feature rare footage of the six comedians who, over the years, performed as The Three Stooges -- Moe, Curly and Shemp Howard, Larry Fine, Joe Besser and Joe (Curly Joe) DeRita. Surviving relatives will share home movies and photos of the boys.


Nicole Kidman is reportedly in talks to star in a remake of "The Stepford Wives," the 1975 sci-fi thriller based on Ira Levin's novel about a suburban community where the men try to create Utopia by replacing the women with robots who cook, clean and do the laundry with never a complaint.

Frank Oz ("The Score," "In & Out") will direct from a screenplay by Paul Rudnick ("In & Out," "Addams Family Values").

The remake is described as a dark comedy, unlike the 1975 movie, which was more of a horror-thriller. Kidman will play a newcomer to the community who senses something is very wrong and tries to get to the bottom of it -- before the men can turn her into a robot.


The Friars Club of California will honor basketball legend Magic Johnson in Santa Monica, Calif., Sunday with a roast and a lifetime achievement award.

With sportscaster Jim Hill serving as master of ceremonies, plans call for the panel of celebrity roasters to include former NBA star Charles Barkley, director Penny Marshall ("A League of Their Own"), Johnson's former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Michael Cooper, comedian Tom Arnold, WNBA star Lisa Leslie and Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss.

Johnson -- who helped lead the Lakers to five NBA championships (1980, '82, '85, '87 and '88) -- is being honored not only for his exploits on the court, but also for his entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Johnson is founder and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, and founder of the Magic Johnson Foundation.

Established in 1991, the foundation supports community-based organizations and programs that promote health and education in the inner city.


In the grand tradition of Universal's "The Fast and the Furious," Columbia Pictures is moving ahead with plans to produce "RPM," described as the story of a couple of Butch Cassidy-Sundance Kid-type buddies who are part of an international underground road rally scene featuring top of the line cars -- including Aston-Martins, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Maseratis.

Plans call for Simon West ("The General's Daughter," "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider") to direct the project.


Monty Python veteran Terry Gilliam will make a return visit to the world of the fantastic where he set two of his most popular films, "Time Bandits" (1981) and "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" (1988).

According to The Hollywood Reporter" Gilliam will develop, and may direct, "Brothers Grimm" -- described as an action-adventure take on the lives of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The story has the Brothers Grimm traveling from village to village pretending to protect people from fairies and monsters -- until they come up against a real sorceress with terrifying powers.

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