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Kevin Costner bails on a film project

Plus, ”Hannibal,” Sylvester Stallone, John Goodman, Writers Guild Awards, ”Freaks & Geeks,” and more

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Kevin Costner
Eric Robert/Corbis Sygma

CASTING Kevin Costner has left ”Beyond Borders,” one month after Catherine Zeta-Jones dumped the Mandalay Pictures’ film. Costner is currently considering a role in Michael Bay ‘s megabudget war pic ”Pearl Harbor” for producer Jerry Bruckheimer. If he signs on, Costner would join fellow Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. ”Borders,” which Oliver Stone was going to direct, was supposed to start shooting in May, so the producers have put the project on hold.

SEQUEL WATCH After nearly two months of speculation, Anthony Hopkins has agreed to play Hannibal Lecter sans Jodie Foster, a spokeswoman for Universal Pictures said today. ”Hannibal,” the sequel to ”The Silence of the Lambs,” still needs a replacement for Foster, who turned down the project last December and committed to starring in another film this spring. According to Reuters, Universal has spent the past two months trying to convince Foster to rejoin the project, but is now ready to cast another actress as FBI agent Clarice Starling. The short list reportedly includes Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie, and Hilary Swank. Universal, however, may still decide to dump the movie back onto producer Dino De Laurentiis’ lap, at which point he must reimburse the studio for the $10 million it has spent on book and script fees. The studio should reportedly make up its mind and pick an actress in a matter of weeks.

MORE AWARDS Move over screenwriters, directors can write too. More than half of the Writers Guild movie award nominations announced yesterday were given to writer- directors. Nominees for best original script are three such cases: ”Magnolia” (Paul Thomas Anderson); ”The Sixth Sense” (M. Night Shyamalan); and ”Three Kings” (David O. Russell). The other two nominees were ”American Beauty” (Alan Ball) and ”Being John Malkovich” (Charlie Kaufman). The awards ceremony is March 5 in New York City and Los Angeles.

REEL DEAL Sylvester Stallone is taking another chance on his filmmaking skills. The action master is writing a screenplay about Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) for a movie produced by Franchise Pictures. Stallone, who is an avid racing fan, has the complete cooperation of CART for his film…. ”Being John Malkovich”’s writer Charlie Kaufman has penned another screenplay, ”Human Nature,” which will star Patricia Arquette and Paul Giamatti. The black comedy, which starts shooting in May, follows a woman (Arquette), a scientist (Giamatti) who teaches table manners to mice, and a young man who was raised by apes (”Notting Hill”’s Rhys Ifans). The director is music-video vet Michel Gondry…. Husband-and-wife actors Ed Harris and Amy Madigan are teaming with Elton John‘s production company, Rocket Pictures, to produce and star in a film adaptation of Scottish author A.L. Kennedy’s new romantic novel ”So I Am Glad” (in bookstores later this month). Harris and Madigan just completed the Jackson Pollock biopic ”Pollock,” which stars the pair.

TUBE WATCH John Goodman is in negotiations to star in a fall sitcom on Fox. Goodman, who regularly pops up on TV (e.g. ”Saturday Night Live”; his stint on ”Now and Again”), would play a single dad who lives with another single dad and their teenage kids. Fox has already ordered 13 episodes of the family-fare project. TV couple Bonnie & Terry Turner (”3rd Rock From the Sun”) have signed on to write and exec-produce the series, which is being developed at Carsey-Werner, where ”Roseanne” was created…. Bad news for NBC’s ”Freaks & Geeks”: The Peacock is pulling the critical darling from its February-sweeps lineup. The series is being shelved for the next two weeks so that the quiz show ”Twenty One” has more time to lure a loyal audience. ”Freaks” will return to NBC’s Monday nights in March, but so far the verdict is undecided on the fate of the show. Even though the hour-long show has upped ratings since it moved to Monday, the series faces tough competition against Fox’s sitcom hit ”That ’70s Show”…. Good news for NBC’s oft-criticized comedy ”3rd Rock From the Sun”: The network has decided to renew the Emmy-winning show for year 5 — the 2000-2001 season.

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