Film: Rushes

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The Independent Culture
LIAM NEESON (below) is developing a taste for the blarney. The big man, who showed us the cuddly side of Michael Collins in Neil Jordan's biopic, is in talks to play a somewhat less heroic Irishman in the film adaptation of Frank McCourt's biographical best-seller, Angela's Ashes, which Alan Parker will direct. Variety reports that Neeson is being pencilled in to play the author's alcoholic father, Malachy, alongside Emily `Breaking the Waves' Watson as McCourt's long-suffering wife, Angela.

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RICHARD `the smirk' Gere, whose current film Red Corner is underwhelming audiences the country over at the moment, looks to be back on safer territory with the news that he's attached to the romantic drama, Autumn in New York. Should the rumours prove founded, the pouting hunk will play a footloose, middle-aged playboy, who decides to put his philandering days behind him when he falls in love with a wholesome girl half his age.

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FANCY picking up a best actor Oscar? Gain a few pounds, strut before camera, shed them, strut before camera once more - repeat until a tuxedo'ed Billy Crystal reads your name out in March. Robert De Niro pioneered the technique in Raging Bull nearly 20 years ago and Tom Hanks is now set to reprise the crash diet that contributed to his Academy Award success in Philadelphia.

It's reported that Dreamworks are assembling Hanks, Forrest Gump director Rober Zemeckis and the pen behind Apollo 13, William Broyles Jr, for The Castaways, a contemporary drama in which Hanks will play a man stranded on a desert island. Effecting the laboured attention to detail of which the Academy is so enamoured, the production will film its opening scenes before halting to allow Hanks to bring his weight down. While his star lays off the lard, Zemeckis will stuff another film down his throat, so to speak, and turn round the production of What Lies Beneath, a supernatural thriller with Harrison Ford. Once Hanks has acquired a suitably withered pallor, The Castaways will go back into production.

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Vive la Nicholson!: News arrives of Jack Nicholson's perplexing jaunt to Cuba where he recently flew in at the invitation of the state-run film institute, reportedly accompanied by a pack of lawyers and producers. Nicholson kept his lips sealed about the prospect of making a film on the island, but it's thought that the cigar-loving actor will also visit the Partagas tobacco factory in Havana.

There is another school of thought which suggests Nicholson will take a shady post in the Castro regime and oversee the country's slow but sure transition to a free market economy. Who better to offer guidance on the evils of capitalism than one of Hollywood's greatest hell-raising hedonists?

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