Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International  |  Dec. 16, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein is getting support from a surprising source -- DreamWorks co-head Walter Parkes.

"Harvey and I have a strangely good relationship, personally," Parkes explained to reporters in New York.

Weinstein, who is the boss of DreamWorks' rival studio, was the subject of a less-than-flattering profile in a recent issue of the New Yorker magazine.

"Since I was a writer and a producer, I'm slightly newer to the kind of studio politics side of my job," Parkes said. "It's only been five or six years that I've been doing this for DreamWorks. I don't have the past associations, like (DreamWorks honcho) Jeffrey (Katzenberg) and Harvey go back and Jeffrey and Harvey made this deal and Jeffrey and (DreamWorks chief) David (Geffen) go back and there seems to be a lot of baggage there, whereas Harvey and I have been talking.

"For the first time, DreamWorks and Miramax may be co-producing a movie together and Harvey and I talk two or three times a week. It's very direct. It's very simple," Parkes continued. "Here's the thing -- we've all read the (New Yorker) article and we all know the Harvey Weinstein story. For me, there is a simple fact, movies in America in the year 2002, the movie business is better for Miramax having existed than not. In other words, no matter what the personality is, no matter what the tendency toward anger or control, or any of that stuff, the sum total of Miramax has been about bringing a broader range of talent into the mainstream Hollywood business, introducing new directors into it."

Parkes said the film he and Weinstein are hoping to make together is called "Tulip Fever," a drama set against history's "tulip craze," written by Tom Stoppard and directed by John Madden, the team behind Miramax's "Shakespeare in Love." Incidentally, "Shakespeare" beat DreamWorks' best picture contender "Saving Private Ryan" in 1999.


Hollywood hell-raiser Russell Crowe apparently is ready to share his nest with long-time girlfriend, Danielle Spencer.

E! Online reports Crowe's publicist in Australia is confirming the couple's engagement. Tabloid reports claimed the "Gladiator" star proposed a month ago with a $100,000 diamond ring and bended-knee proposal, after securing permission from the actress's dad.

Crowe announced last month the "massive level of stress" accompanying his career has forced him to take a break from show business. In a message posted on the Web site of his rock band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, he also cited his desire to wake up to Spencer as often as possible for the career slow-down.


Christopher Walken says he dreams of one day hosting a cooking show.

"A cooking show is always possible," the 59-year-old "Catch Me if You Can" star told reporters in New York.

"The thing about cooking shows is that watching somebody do something is interesting. Watching somebody cook is always interesting. Have you ever noticed when you go to somebody's house and you're standing there making something, you watch... It's perfect for the camera," he said.

So, is Walken a big fan of the Food Network's cult hit, "Iron Chef?"

"Oh, the 'Iron Chef!'" he exclaimed. "It's really great and you know, they're not so greedy with the commercials. I love it at the end when they taste it and they're sort of brutal. They say, 'I like it, but there is too much...' It's cruel. And this guy who is a master chef (just hangs his head.)"

Walken then recalled his disastrous TV cooking experience on a recent edition of a cable television film program.

"The kitchen practically caught on fire," Walken explained, adding he was cooking popcorn shrimp, one of his favorite dishes, at the time. "The guys who work there in the kitchen, when the fire started, you can see the fear (on their faces)."


Steven Spielberg is thrilled with the response his new mini-series, "Taken," has gotten from TV viewers.

The 10-day, 20-hour series chronicled the lives of three generations of families whose lives were altered by alien encounters.

"I guess a lot of people have been abducted," the series' executive producer joked with United Press International. "I think more Americans have been abducted now that I see the ratings. The ratings are the best the Sci Fi Channel has ever had."

So, does the man behind "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" really believe in aliens?

"I don't personally believe anyone has ever been abducted by aliens," Spielberg explained. "This is a nice mythology, a good saga. I think the reason 'Taken' clicked with the public was it wasn't 20 hours of special effects. It was 20 hours of family dynamics and trauma. It really was a trauma drama and that is all to the credit of one man, Leslie Bohem, who wrote every single hour of that show.

"When I was trolling the waters looking for the right person (to write the series) because I had the concept, but I needed someone to write all the episodes, it was Les who said, 'I don't want to do spaceships and aliens every single episode. I really want to show the effects it has on the people who have been taken and the effect on his loved ones.'"

That said, Spielberg admitted he does believe in intergalactic life, but quickly qualified the statement by adding: "I believe that we are not alone in the universe, that somewhere out there there are a billion possible places for intelligent life to evolve. I don't really know if I believe that we have ever been visited in our century. Maybe if you go to ... books and look at the mythology of who built the pyramids ... who really built the pyramids, who knows? But I don't know if I really believe that either."

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