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Morning Report

Arts And Entertainment Reports From The Times, News Services And The Nation's Press.

September 13, 2002|Elaine Dutka

MOVIES

Pitt in the Doghouse With 'Fountain' Crew

An employee on the drama "The Fountain," who claimed he is representing the entire crew, is venting his anger at Brad Pitt for pulling out of the project and putting hundreds of jobs on the line.

According to his letter to the Ain't It Cool Web site, director Darren Aronofsky and producer Gil Adler told the crew that the project had been scuttled in the wake of Pitt's departure two months before the shoot in Australia.

Although the creative team tried to line up someone else of his stature, no one was available on such short notice, the filmmakers were quoted as saying--and the studio would not go ahead without a big box office draw.

A Warner Bros. spokeswoman in Burbank declined to comment on the movie's status Thursday.

Pitt is said to be tackling another Warner Bros. movie instead--playing Achilles in Wolfgang Petersen's "Troy." The actor, the crew member's letter contends, has been insensitive to the human toll of his "prima donna Hollywood antics."

Aronofsky and Adler could not be reached. Pitt's publicist declined to comment.

Deals, Deals ... and, Yes, More Deals

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired worldwide rights to documentarian Errol Morris' feature about former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, slated for release next year, and the U.S. rights to "The Statement," a political thriller starring Michael Caine, to be directed and produced by Norman Jewison, the Hollywood Reporter says.... Showtime has given the go-ahead to "Deacons of Defense," a docudrama about a secretive black militia group in the 1960s. Forest Whitaker and Ossie Davis will star....Lions Gate Films has bought North American rights to "Stevie," a documentary from director Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") about the life of a troubled man to whom James had once been a Big Brother.

THE ARTS

Denver, Houston Undergo Budget Cuts

A "50th? No Way!" campaign is underway in Denver--a response to the fact that Colorado, already 46th in per-capita state funding for the arts, is making further cuts in appropriations to the Colorado Council on the Arts.

A group of artists and arts organizations met this week to map out strategy and distribution of 10,000 buttons statewide. "The reaction should really be one of utter amazement and utter anger," said Brian Vreeland, a member of the steering committee. "We could potentially be last in the country. It's deplorable."

As part of the $228-million trim of the state budget, Gov. Bill Owens announced on May 31 that he's dropping the arts council's appropriations from about $1.9 million in 2002 to $1.2 million next year.

Elsewhere, meanwhile, the Houston Symphony announced its cuts this week.

To counter a deficit expected to exceed $1.6 million this season, the band suspended three money-losing concert series, reduced its staff by 15% and instituted pay cuts for all administrative staff. The trims could save $500,000, said Anne Kennedy, the symphony's executive director.

RADIO

Sinbad Returning to the Local Airwaves

Sinbad, who until recently had a morning show on KHHT-FM (92.3), will return to the station starting Saturday in a weekly syndicated show. "Sinbad's Psychedelic Shack" will premiere at 8 a.m. and feature the comedian's favorite "old school" tunes.

Sinbad's weekday run began last February and ended Aug. 30, replaced by a show that prominently features dance and R&B tunes. It marked the station's second failed attempt to establish a comedy foothold in the critical morning-drive period, having previously tried a show with comedian George Lopez.

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