MUSICAL THROWBACK Sheryl Crow is exploring her heavy-metal side, recording a cover of Guns N’ Roses’ hit ”Sweet Child o’ Mine.” The song will appear on the soundtrack to Adam Sandler‘s next film, ”Big Daddy,” which hits stores on June 7. (The movie opens June 25.) This will be the second revival of the Roses tune: Luna is also covering it on their new album ”The Days of our Nights,” which comes out May 25.
CASTING Giovanni Ribisi (”The Mod Squad”) is joining Nicolas Cage‘s next actionfest, ”Gone in 60 Seconds.” Ribisi will play a lowlife who drags his trying-to-go-straight brother (Cage) into a car heist ordered by a top mobster…. Acclaimed supporting actress Joan Allen (”Nixon,” ”Pleasantville”) will finally play a lead role in ”Through the Sky Falls,” based on the true story of Irish journalist Veronica Guerin, who was assassinated after writing investigative stories about Irish mobsters.
REEL DEAL James Cameron has backed out of a remake of ”Planet of the Apes,” a project he had been talking about for a few years (often mentioning Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Charlton Heston lead role). But Fox is still enthusiastic about the project and is talking to other directors, including King of Flash Michael Bay (”Armageddon”)…. Get a whiff of this: Howard Stern may revive ”The Adventures of Fartman.” With the success of the gross-out ”There’s Something About Mary,” original ”Fartman” screenwriter J.F. Lawton (”Pretty Woman”) and Stern are ready to move ahead and claim to have studio interest. Competing for their methane moolah is Universal’s oddball superhero comedy ”Mystery Men” (currently filming with Ben Stiller and William H. Macy), which features a crime fighter called Spleen (played by Paul Reubens) who has similar super-flatulence. ”There were two asteroid films and two Oscar-nominated WWII films. Why shouldn’t there be two films involving the colon?” said an unfazed Lawton.
MUSICAL REUNION College-party staple the English Beat are reuniting for a tour and are considering making a new album. The influential British ska band disbanded in the early 1980s, and the members scattered to form General Public and Fine Young Cannibals.
DONATION George Lucas is breeding a new wave of techno-directors. He just donated $1.5 million to his film-school alma mater, the University of Southern California, to build a digital studio with the latest technology. The studio will be named after late Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, and will be part of the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts, named after another famous alumnus, who donated $5 million.
CUSTODY FIGHT Sinead O’Connor voluntarily ended her three-year custody battle with ex-husband John Waters over their young daughter, Roison, turning over the girl just four days after the singer attempted suicide by swallowing 20 Valiums, according to MTV News. The tumultuous court hearings had ended last week with O’Connor spitting in the face of Waters, an Irish Times columnist. Neither side’s lawyers would comment on the case.