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Holiday Sneaks

QUICK CUTS / Sneaks Edition

November 12, 2000|Kevin Crust

Magic Number

The $100-million mark may not be as illustrious as it once was, with more than 200 films having reached that box office benchmark, but Robert Zemeckis could become the first director to release two $100-million-grossing films in the same year. Zemeckis directed one of the summer's biggest hits, "What Lies Beneath," and would appear to have a solid shot with "Cast Away," starring Tom Hanks (who has 10 nine-digit hits to his credit). Steven Spielberg came closest to the twin-hits feat in 1993 with "Jurassic Park" ($356 million) and "Schindler's List" ($96 million). Another Steven, Soderbergh, who scored a $100-million-plus hit last spring with "Erin Brockovich," also has a holiday release, "Traffic," featuring Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. "Cast Away" opens wide Dec. 22, while "Traffic" opens in New York and L.A. on Dec. 27 and goes wide Jan. 12. If "Cast Away" fails to click, Spielberg will have his next shot at doubling up in 2001 with "A.I." and "Minority Report."

Coincidence? I Think Not

Kevin Costner and director Roger Donaldson, who scored a hit together in 1987 with the political thriller "No Way Out," re-team in December for the Cuban missile crisis drama "Thirteen Days." The producers of the film managed to acquire at least two lucky charms. Steven Culp, currently onstage in Costa Mesa in South Coast Repertory's production of "Art," was cast as Robert F. Kennedy, and he definitely has experience: Culp portrayed RFK in the 1996 HBO movie "Norma Jean & Marilyn," with Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd. The movie has another link to the past: The briefcase used in the film to carry the photographs identifying the missiles' Cuban locations is the actual briefcase used to transport the original documents in 1962.

The Long Haul

Since coming to Hollywood from Texas in 1973 at age 18, Bill Paxton has worn many hats. Before his roles in the blockbusters "Apollo 13," "Twister" and "Titanic," as well as the upcoming "Vertical Limit," Paxton began his show business career working in educational films and as a set dresser on Roger Corman-produced movies like "Big Bad Mama." He then did some stage work and studied with Stella Adler before landing memorable supporting roles in "Weird Science" and "Aliens." Also in the '80s, Paxton managed to front the pop music group Martini Ranch, which had a cult hit with the song "How Can the Laboring Man Find Time for Self-Culture." A breakthrough performance in the critically acclaimed "One False Move" in 1991 led to his current status as an in-demand leading man as well as the acquaintance of writer and co-star Billy Bob Thornton, with whom he later appeared in "A Simple Plan." The actor is now adding feature-film director to his resume. He's directing the gothic thriller "Frailty," currently shooting in Los Angeles. The film, written by Brent Hanley, is about faith, family and the end of innocence. Paxton co-stars opposite Matthew McConaughey, with whom he worked in "U-571."

Skeleton Crew

During the filming of "Dungeons and Dragons," the new movie based on the popular fantasy role-playing game, one of D&D's co-creators, Dave Arneson, got into the spirit of things on a visit to the set in the Czech Republic. The filmmakers fulfilled a fantasy of Arneson's when they cast him on the spot as a Mage (magician) and let him be an extra in a scene. In the Czech town of Kutna Hora, the production was the first to be allowed to shoot in a 12th century church there. The church's interior, which functioned as one of the film's dungeons, is furnished with actual human bones, including an entire chandelier. In other words, those skulls are real.

A Bit of What We Know About Hollywood, 2001

Coming soon to a theater near you (provided you define soon as the next six months and are very trusting):

"Bridget Jones' Diary" starring Renee Zellweger (Miramax) . . . Jude Law, Joseph Fiennes and Ed Harris in Jean-Jacques Annaud's "Enemy at the Gate" (Paramount) . . . Director Ridley Scott and Julianne Moore join Anthony Hopkins in "The Silence of the Lambs" sequel, "Hannibal" (MGM) . . . "The Mexican" starring Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts (DreamWorks).


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