Film: Rushes

IT MAY all take place in a galaxy far, far away but the first of George Lucas's Star Wars prequels is not such a long time off. Provisionally entitled Star Wars: Episode One, the first instalment of the Skywalker saga is set to premiere on screens across the US and Canada from 21 May next year.

Lucas says he is not interested in breaking box-office records and that he wants the new film to be a "quality presentation and a positive group experience".

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FIVE YEARS ago, the idea of Wes Craven directing Meryl Streep would have been little more than a delicious joke. Today, however, the double- Oscar-winning actress could do with a hit.

The director of 50 Violins, which is a big-screen adaptation of the Oscar- winning documentary Small Wonders, originally had Madonna lined up for the lead role.

The singer had been due to play a single mother who, drawing upon her experience as a violin teacher in east Harlem, established an unlikely but successful music programme for inner-city children.

A month before shooting began, however, Madonna dropped out. Streep, perhaps scenting a third Oscar in the tale's sentiment, has been signed up to replace her.

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WOODY HARRELSON'S attempts to secure a retrial for his father, convicted of murder in 1979, have hit the buffers thanks to a game of basketball.

The US District Judge Fred Biery had been due to preside over a hearing to decide whether Charles Harrelson should be granted a new trial. The problem arose when Biery admitted to having played a 30-minute game of "one on one" with Woody a couple of weeks before.

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