PREQUEL WATCH Fox’s ”Get Real” star Eric Christian Olsen, who plays the studly brother, has confirmed that he’s being considered for the role of the teenage Anakin Skywalker in the second ”Star Wars” prequel, ”Episode 2.” Olsen admitted to the IGN Movies website: ”I go in in a week and a half for an audition… No matter what… I still get to meet George Lucas.” … In other ”Star Wars” news, George Lucas is apparently trying to create a more multicultural universe, after being attacked for possible ethnic stereotypes in ”The Phantom Menace.” According to Variety, Lucasfilm’s casting director has reportedly met with several talent agencies outlining new roles, including Native American, Indian, Hispanic, and Asian characters. Lucasfilm spokeswoman Lynn Hale told Variety that she couldn’t comment on specific roles, except to confirm that Jar Jar Binks will be back for the second episode, along with other ”international characters.”… Whatever’s brewing for ”Episode 2,” George Lucas has a reason to celebrate ”Episode 1.” ”The Phantom Menace” recently surpassed ”Jurassic Park” (which has earned $920 million) as the second-highest worldwide box office grosser of all time. But with $922.5 million to date, the ”Star Wars” prequel still has a long way to go to sink ”Titanic,” which is No. 1, at $1.8 billion.
PHONE FRIENDLY After months of saying she would be happy to be a phone friend for a ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” contestant, Rosie O’Donnell was finally available to receive a call. ”I’m not at liberty to discuss it,” Rosie said on her morning talk show to guest Matt Lauer. ”But it’s a lot more tense than people imagine.” Viewers can see if O’Donnell really knows her pop-culture history on this Sunday night’s episode.
CASTING Recent award nominee Reese Witherspoon is set to produce and star in the drama ”Slow Motion” for Phoenix Pictures. Based on author Dani Shapiro’s autobiographical book ”Slow Motion: A True Story,” the project follows Shapiro’s life as a college student seduced by her roommate’s father. This will be Witherspoon’s first producing credit…. ”Election” costar Chris Klein (”American Pie”) is in final talks to star in the updated remake of ”Rollerball” for MGM and director John McTiernan (”The Thomas Crown Affair”). Klein would take the role James Caan played in Norman Jewison’s original sci-fi thriller from 1975. The story follows a team of gladiators (on roller skates!) who fight to the death for their corporate owners.
TUBE WATCH More bad news for ”Veronica’s Closet.” Not only is one of its stars facing a hate-crime trial, but now Kathy Najimy is bidding farewell to the show. Najimy, who plays Veronica’s (Kirstie Alley) second-in-command Olive, will finish this third season but will not return if the show actually gets renewed. The actress can still be heard as the voice of Peggy on Fox’s animated series ”King of the Hill”…. Puddy is back. Patrick Warburton will return to TV in the live-action adventures of ”The Tick” for Fox. Barry Sonnenfeld has signed on to direct the half-hour pilot, which is scheduled to start shooting in April. The series, based on the Fox cartoon now on Comedy Central, revolves around a 400-pound superhero who wears a blue tick costume.
LEGAL BRIEF A U.S. District Court judge has granted slighted partner Sam Barber the right to sue ”The Blair Witch Project” producers Daniel Myrick and Gregg Hale, along with Artisan Entertainment, for allegedly freezing him out of an executive-producer credit for the low-budget phenomenon. Artisan’s legal team had asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, which Barber filed before the film’s release last year, but the judge denied the request. Barber claims ”Project” was developed at his Orlando-based production company and that he spent thousands on developing the film treatment, preparing the preliminary investor package, and even shooting the trailer which was shown in theaters. According to his lawsuit, Myrick and Hale used his resources, promised a producer’s cred, and then bolted, freezing him out of the film completely. The ”Project” producers are facing breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and violation of state unfair-competition laws. They did not respond to the judge’s ruling.
OBIT Magician and illusionist Doug Henning died Monday in Los Angeles after a five-month battle with liver cancer. The Canadian-born magic man, who was 52, was one of the most revered magicians of all time, ranking fifth last December in a Magic Magazine survey of the Top 10 most influential magicians of the 20th century. Henning’s most memorable tricks included making elephants disappear, walking through a brick wall, and conjuring a tiger.