Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International  |  Dec. 18, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Long before Steven Spielberg was one of the world's most successful filmmakers, he posed as a studio executive and snuck onto film sets.

Talking to reporters about Frank Abagnale, the real-life subject of his latest flick, "Catch Me If You Can," Spielberg confessed that when he was in high school in the early 1960s, he would get dressed up and pretend to be a Hollywood big-wig to gain access to studio lots, so he could watch how movies were made.

Asked if making a film about a famous con artist brought back memories of his own brief time as an imposter, Spielberg replied: "It did. Not when I first read the book and script, but it was certainly an after thought."

"I remember thinking back to my moment of chutzpah, and thinking that I could have been arrested for trespassing and impersonating executives and that was probably more punishable than trespassing over there in those days. But, the nerve I was able to generate came from my love of cinema and wanting to be a movie director," Spielberg explained.


When Tom Hanks agreed to co-produce "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," he just hoped the film would make back its $5 million.

Eight months and $216 million later, it is considered the most successful independent feature of all time.

Hanks, who co-produced the box-office phenomenon with his wife, Rita Wilson, laid the success of the romantic comedy squarely on the shoulders of the film's writer/star.

"It really is a testament to an idea told in a new way. It was so personal for Nia Vardolas. To meet with nothing but rejection because of the philosophy of the industry. She was offered money to sell her screenplay. All she had to do was write it for somebody else, lose the 'Greek' nationality, not have the words 'fat' or 'Greek' in the title, but she said she just didn't want to do it. She wanted to have a bigger hand in that. So, she turned it into that one-woman show that Rita happened to see ... and I saw it again and we both agreed it could be a movie," Hanks explained.

The film was shot in 22 days and opened on 115 screens. Excellent buzz inspired the backers to open the film wider. It is still in theaters now.

"Nia couldn't get booked on a national talk show to save her life," Hanks recalled. "They wouldn't have her. They did three months later. All we did was make a movie we liked and we supported it the best we could."

Hanks said naysayers initially thought the film's ethnicity would not appeal to mainstream audiences.

"(They said:)'There aren't enough Greeks to fill half the theaters in Los Angeles.' Yeah, but anybody who has got an idiotic family who drives them nuts, I believe that is known as the population of the world. They all decided to go and celebrate the Greekness of their families."

So, did Wilson say, "I told you so" when the film became a hit?

"No," Hanks replied diplomatically. "Wives never say such things."


Pierce Brosnan is temporarily shelving his martini shaker to tackle a quieter, more dramatic role this month in the Irish drama, "Evelyn."

This is what the real Evelyn had to say about the James Bond star's portrayal of her father: "My younger brother watched some of this movie with me and looked at me and said, 'Jesus, that's the old fella up there!"

"Pierce manages to capture the absolute essence of Desmond Doyle," she continued. "He has the suppressed rage behind his eyes, the set of his mouth, and the attitude: 'Don't mess with me.' It was really spooky watching Pierce portray my father, like he was actually there in spirit."

"This was very close to my heart, because I'm a father, I'm an Irishman. And it was a very good script and it has truthfulness and well-founded by Paul Pender," Brosnan told reporters in Toronto. "On top of that, it was based on a true story. So, there were many ingredients and emblems in the text that I identified with."


Some people collect stamps or butterflies or antiques. Sandra Bullock? She collects houses.

"I have a problem," the actress revealed to reporters in New York. "I would say that it would become an addiction, but the nice thing about this year is that I've actually sold one. I actually let go of one... That was a big step."

The one that got away, Bullock said, was a 1930's house in Los Angeles.

"I remember the boss in the 'Lucille Ball Show', Mr. Mooney. It was his house. I love that."

Bullock explained it is her love for architecture "that is from a time that is not now," that got her into the renovation habit.

"It's just that I'm not an artist. I'm not a painter, I'm not a singer, I'm not a sculptor and renovating is like my sculpting," Bullock said.

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