Singing, Shipping and Scientology
He hasn’t sung since Grease, and he’s hardly danced - not
counting a few self-parodic moments in Pulp Fiction - since Staying
Alive. But John Travolta should be doing both in Standing Room Only,
in which he will play real-life lounge singer Jimmy Roselli.
The latter may not be a household name to you and me, but he was apparently much
appreciated by the mob, who packed his engagements at Vegas and elsewhere. Then Roselli
changed his mind, declared he wanted nothing more to do with organised crime, and ended up
with a price on his head.
That shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise to anybody. What is surprising,
though, is the director of Standing Room Only: Gus Van Sant, who was
apparently the choice of both Travolta and his manager (who is also the film’s
producer), Jonathan Krane. Van Sant’s days as a maverick indie look like being
definitively over, what with Good Will Hunting, Psycho and now
Co-starring in Standing Room Only is Kelly Preston, who will be working
with her husband for the first time since a long-forgotten 1989 flick called The
Experts, which came right at the lowest spot of Travolta’s decade in the
wilderness. At least he met his wife on it. The couple look like co-starring again later
in the year in the somewhat delayed movie version of Annie L Proulx’s
bestseller, The Shipping News.
In between, Travolta is expected to realise his decade-long dream of turning
Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard’s sci-fi tale, Battlefield
Earth, into a movie. The US$70-million film (which Roger Christian is to
direct for Franchise Entertainment) is about an alien invasion which drives the earthlings
underground - until, that is, they are rallied to a fightback under the command of a rebel
Strangely enough, however, the rebel leader is not the role Travolta has marked out for
himself. He will play the big baddie: bad in that he is the leader of the race of the
aliens; big in that he is 10-foot-tall.
No More Mrs Nice Guy
Having departed sharply from her Merchant-Ivory image with last year’s The
Theory of Flight, in which she played a terminally ill wheelchair-bound woman
determined to lose her virginity before she dies, Helena Bonham Carter looks like
maintaining her hold on offbeat material with her next movie, Women Talking Dirty,
currently shooting in Edinburgh.
The film, which marks the long-awaited debut of Elton John’s
production company, Rocket Pictures (launched with a lot of fanfare at Cannes two years
ago), is about the unlikely friendship between two young Scottish women who support one
another whenever life deals either of them a problem - which is fairly frequently. It is
being directed by Coky Giedroyc, whose debut feature was the much-acclaimed 1996
low-budget Brit flick, Stella Does Tricks.
Above Him the Waves
Matthew McConaughey recently donned naval uniform to take command of
Universal’s U-571. This is not - as those familiar with studio methods
of listing projects may suspect - some far-distant future movie, but the actual name of
the German U-boat in the frequently delayed action flick with which writer/director Jonathan
Mostow is finally following up his hit thriller, Breakdown.
McConaughey plays the US navy captain who is sent to retrieve a decoding device hidden
aboard the stranded German submarine. Others aboard U-571, on which production
began in Rome and Malta at the turn of the year, include Harvey Keitel, Bill
Paxton, David Keith and Jake Weber.
Strange Diaz Indeed
Cameron Diaz has had a broad range of roles in recent times, but she’s never
played dead before. And that’s just what she is doing in Fine Line’s Invisible
Circus, which is shooting in France. The film is about a young woman heading off
to Paris to find out what happened to her sister (Diaz), who committed suicide there. Invisible
Circus will be directed by Adam Brooks, who also wrote the screenplay (adapted
from a novel by Jennifer Egan).
Carrey on Jim
Jim Carrey recently wrapped the Andy Kaufman biopic, The Man on the Moon,
directed by Milos Forman. He will be reteaming with the Peter and Bob
Farrelly (who directed him in Dumb and Dumber and did the same for
Diaz in Mary) for a film called Me, Myself and Irene, in which he
will play a Long Island cop with a dual-personality problem. As long as he keeps taking
the pills, he’s OK. But, when he forgets, he becomes someone else. Trouble is, both
his original self and the someone else he turns into fall in love with the same woman: the
eponymous Irene, a role which has yet to be cast.
And he will follow Irene with the Dr Seuss movie, How The Grinch
Stole Christmas, which Ron Howard will direct and which should be out for
Thanksgiving 2000. Carrey’s other pipeline project, The Incredible Mr Limpet,
has been on hold, however, ever since Steve Oedekerk dropped out as director.
RKO 281, the story of the making of Citizen Kane that hovered on Ridley
Scott’s wish-list for a year or so - with American X Oscar
nominee Edward Norton suggested as a possible candidate to play the young (and, in
those days, relatively sprightly) Orson Welles, has finally transmogrified into an
So it won’t be Norton. Nor will it be Marlon Brando as William Randolph
Hearst, Madonna as Marion Davies, Dustin Hoffman as Kane
screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz or Meryl Streep as gossip columnist Hedda
Hopper... OK, OK, I know. But, since no contracts were signed, what was the sense in
them not dreaming? No, it’ll be the same screenplay (by John Logan, inspired
by the Oscar-nominated documentary, The Battle Over Citizen Kane), but with
a slightly lower-key line-up. Still tasty, though. James Cromwell will play Hearst;
John Malkovich will be Mankiewicz; Brenda Blethyn will take the Hedda Hopper
role; and Liev Schreiber will play Welles.
Production got under way in London last month, with young British director Ben Ross
at the helm.
Having waited three years for the iron to cool, meanwhile, the first version of the
life-story of murdered Irish journalist Veronica Guerin is finally about to go in
front of the cameras.
Within a couple of months of Guerin’s murder, apparently at the hands of a Dublin
crime syndicate, on June 26, 1996, two separate versions of her life were in the pipeline.
One was going to be produced by Jerry Bruckheimer at Disney. The other one was
called Though the Sky Falls, and Guerin herself had been collaborating on it
prior to her death.
The latter is the one that is finally about to roll, with the journalist being played
by Joan Allen (as was originally proposed back in 1996), alongside Pete
Postlethwaite, Patrick Bergin and Liam Cunningham. The script is by Michael
Sheridan; the director is John Mackenzie.
And finally, a couple of megamovies - Kevin Costner’s Cuban-missile
crisis drama 13 Days and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s medieval
epic, Crusade - seem to be back on the rails again.
13 Days looks likely to be directed by Francis Ford Coppola, after a brief
period which would have seen either Martin Campbell or Roger Donaldson at
the helm came and went in February (original director Phil Alden Robinson quit over
‘creative differences’, as is wont to happen with Costner projects).
And Schwarzenegger has been talking to producer Arnon Milchan, about rescuing
his film, which has been put on hold so many times (the first was so original director Paul
Verhoeven could make Showgirls) that the title Crusade could well
be applied to Arnie’s campaign to get it made.
File this under ‘Unconfirmed’: having worked for the kiddie market for the
first time in his life (albeit only in a vocal capacity) on Antz, Woody
Allen is now likely to team up with those aforementioned poets of pubescence, the Farrelly
Brothers, on a movie called Stuck on You.
The part lined up for him is that of a Siamese twin who, because his sibling has the
liver, is ageing at a hell of a rate. His other half will be played by someone like Matt
Damon or Jim Carrey, so you get the picture.
The Farrellys are also involved as producers in a couple of romantic comedies - Say
It Isn’t So (the ‘It’ being the rumour that the new love of the
hero’s life is, in fact, his sister), plus Me, Myself and Irene - and a
sports comedy called Basketcase, starring Denis Leary.
Last but not least, although his reputation as high priest of angst took a bit of a
knock with The Idiots, Danish director Lars von Trier is the last
person you’d associate with a musical. But that’s what’s next on the cards
for him in the form of Dances in the Dark, which is supposed to shoot in
Iceland some time this year. It stars Catherine Deneuve and Icelandic singer Björk,
and features not only songs but tap-dancing. Will this be one for your millennial line-up,