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LIZ SMITH

Janet Jackson as Dandridge?

June 04, 1993|LIZ SMITH

NEW YORK — Janet Jackson, the most "together" member of the Jackson family, is currently riding high with her smash hit album, "janet.," and a single, "That's the Way Love Goes," still snug in the No. 1 spot. She is also said to be quite effective in Columbia's July movie release, "Poetic Justice," more than meeting the dramatic demands of her role. Now Janet is pushing ahead with plans to bring the story of Dorothy Dandridge to the big screen. Dandridge was a great beauty, publicized (in the vernacular of the '50s) as "the Negro Marilyn Monroe." She starred in films such as "Carmen Jones" and "Porgy and Bess," and was nominated for an Oscar. But after her initial success, she found that Hollywood simply didn't know what to do with her. (Times haven't changed much in Hollywood.) Her career and personal life declined. Dandridge, grown justifiably bitter, died of a sleeping pill overdose in 1965.

Jackson has always identified with Dandridge and idolized her. She is determined to film her story.

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Joe Eszterhas isn't letting the critical brickbats and plummeting box-office returns on "Sliver" reduce his confidence--or his salary. The screenwriter is rumored to be collecting a record $3.4 million for "Gangland." This is Columbia's project about the downfall of John Gotti, based on the Simon & Schuster book by Howard Blum. Casting is under way. Jon Peters will produce.

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Jason Priestley and Luke Perry of "Beverly Hills, 90210" are hoping to team up with singer Tom Jones and cut an album this summer. Jones, as you probably know, is in the midst of a surprising comeback. The gyrating belter of the '60s and '70s has captured a new, young audience and won the fandom of such cool and trendy ones as Priestley and Perry.

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