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February 17, 1996|SHAUNA SNOW | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

Holy 'Batman' News: Latest word on the "Batman and Robin" front is that Val Kilmer is definitely out and that "ER" heartthrob George Clooney is in final negotiations to replace him and match wits with Mr. Freeze, to be played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Hoping to keep the star of its top-rated NBC drama happy, Warner has tapped Clooney for what a source close to the star said would be "a couple" of stints as the Caped Crusader. The source added that Clooney's deal is "huge"--worth more than $10 million. (A Warner Bros. spokesman said the studio had no comment on any aspect of the "Batman" casting.) Warner Bros. hopes Clooney will stick around as Batman longer than his predecessor, Kilmer, who is leaving after one film: 1995's top domestic grosser, "Batman Forever." (Michael Keaton starred twice.) High-ranking studio sources say Warner executives are furious with Kilmer for leaving after "Batman Forever" gave his career a boost. The fourth installment of the franchise reportedly will begin production in the fall with Joel Schumacher ("Batman Forever") directing again. Meanwhile, reports in the Hollywood trade press say Kilmer is close to signing with Paramount to star in "The Saint" opposite Oscar nominee Elisabeth Shue.

Peron's Sisters Weigh In: Eva Peron's sisters have joined the chorus of critics unhappy that Madonna will portray the late Argentine first lady on film. Blanca Amelia Duarte and Erminda Lujan Duarte said Thursday that director Alan Parker is manipulating "the memory of our dear sister" in his film version of "Evita." The sisters also said they deplore the pop star's "blasphemous attitude" in using the crucifix in her music videos. Parker tried to reassure skeptics last week, saying his film will be "respectful, sensible and, I think, historically accurate."

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