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Entertainment news for June 14, 1991

Frida Kahlo, ”For Our Children,” and ”Boss of Bosses” made headlines this week

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Entertainment news for June 14, 1991

Madonna and Robert De Niro are the latest additions to the gaggle of producers trying to make a movie about the same subject — Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, who died in 1954. Madonna’s project was independently researched and is now being rewritten by Jeremy Pikser (The Lemon Sisters). De Niro’s film, focusing on Kahlo’s husband, epic muralist Diego Rivera, will be developed by his own Tribeca Productions. Producer Nancy Hardin is working on another version, based on Hayden Herrera’s respected biography, Frida. But first out of the gate will be New Line Cinema’s entry, written and directed by Luis Valdez (La Bamba, Zoot Suit), which is expected to begin shooting before the end of the year.

When the Pediatric AIDS Foundation enlisted the help of top musical acts to sing children’s songs on its new benefit record, For Our Children, the organization found dozens of stars — like Bob Dylan (”This Old Man”), Bruce Springsteen (”Chicken Lips and Lizard Hips”), Sting (”Cushie Butterfield”), and Paula Abdul (”Goodnight, My Love”) — eager to help the cause. Music publishers, who control the rights to songs, were also willing to forgo their usual royalties. But when hot rap act Digital Underground delivered a version of the classic Dr. Seuss tale Green Eggs and Ham set to a hip-hop beat, the Doctor (Theodor Geisel) said he wouldn’t let his words be used for the project. Is America’s most beloved storyteller a grinch? Not so, says his agent, Bob Tabian: ”It’s Ted’s policy not to allow any third parties to adapt his work except under his direct supervision.” Because of the ”pure volume” of requests for his work, Seuss rarely makes exceptions.

Veteran producer Lee Rich, ex-chief of Lorimar and UA, now affiliated with Warner Bros., has been watching the headlines and smiling. Last summer, as soon as he read the manuscript of Boss of Bosses, about the downfall of Cosa Nostra head Paul Castellano, he made a phone call from the airport and bought the upcoming Simon & Schuster book for $625,000. ”We made a preemptive bid,” says Rich, who’s now watching his investment make news. The authors, FBI agents Joseph O’Brien and Andris Kurins, are suing the FBI for rescinding its approval of the book; the case is pending. Meanwhile, reputed mob boss John Gotti, awaiting trial for racketeering charges including ordering a number of murders, is considering using Boss as grounds for a mistrial. ”The book truly does not refer to Gotti,” insists Rich. ”He’s upset because there’s so much talk about him being behind the 1985 killing of Castellano, but the book never says it.”

Written by: Jeffrey Wells, Jeffrey Ressner, Anne Thompson