TABLOID TALK Madonna and her beau, English director Guy Ritchie are close to splitting, according to the British tabloids. The pregnant superstar reportedly flew to London Sunday to engage in ”crisis talks” with Ritchie after he refused her plea to move to Los Angeles. The Express reports that Madonna issued a statement to the British press last week saying there was no prospect of marriage with Ritchie, who is 10 years younger than the 41-year-old queen of reinvention.
CASTING Susan Sarandon, Tobey Maguire, and Michael Clarke Duncan have signed on to star in Warner Bros.’ upcoming live-action and animated feature ”Like Cats and Dogs.” All three actors will play cartoon dogs in the comedy, which is scheduled for release in summer 2001 … R&B artist Ginuwine is ready for his first on-screen role. The singer has committed to make his acting debut in the basketball comedy ”Juwanna” for director Jesse Vaughan. The project, which is slated to start shooting in July, follows a ”Soul Man”-like story: A young basketball player (”Life”’s Miguel Nunez) is thrown out of the NBA, so he pretends to be a woman to play for the WNBA. Ginuwine will play the appropriately named Romeo who sees something ”special” in the new female B-ball star…. Young actors Scott Caan (”Ready to Rumble”) and Ali Larter (”Final Destination”) have committed to join ”Jesse James,” an action-comedy for Morgan Creek/Warner Bros starring Irish import Colin Farrell in the titular role. Larter will play James’ girlfriend, while Caan will take on Cole Younger, who battled James for control of the James-Younger gang…. Rita Wilson will star opposite Diane Lane, Stellan Skarsgard, and Leelee Sobieski in the thriller ”Glass House” for Columbia Pictures. The plot follows two teenage siblings whose parents die in a car accident and are taken in by a wealthy Malibu couple. The teens gradually realize their new caretakers may have been involved in their parents’ deaths…. Christopher Plummer is in final talks to star in ”Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2000,” a modern version of Bram Stoker’s classic tale. Plummer will star as Abraham Van Helsing, a London antiques dealer who must find his daughter in America to save her from Dracula. Patrick Lussier, who edited the ”Scream” trilogy and ”Music of the Heart,” will direct with Craven on board as producer.
LAWSUIT Last week Woody Harrelson filed a breach-of-contract suit against an insurance company that he claims wrongfully stopped defending him against two tabloid photographers. The two photographers sued Harrelson in 1996 after a scuffle at a Martha’s Vineyard airport. Allstate Insurance withdrew its defense of Harrelson right before the case went to trial in 1998, leaving Harrelson to pay almost $250,000 in the photographers’ damages and legal fees, and his own legal fees. According to the AP, Harrelson claims Allstate should not have withdrawn from the case, since he owned a ”deluxe homeowner’s policy” which protected him from personal injury suits.
BABS ALERT Barbra Streisand has executive produced ”Reel Models: The First Women of Film,” a documentary for the cable network American Movie Classics, which will air a special 10-hour film marathon dedicated to pioneer female filmmakers. ”Reel,” which highlights early directors Lois Weber, Dorothy Azner, Alice Guy, and Oscar-winning screenwriter Frances Marion, will kick off AMC’s series on May 30. Babs, of course, hosts the special, which includes appearances by fellow Academy Award winners Hilary Swank and Susan Sarandon.
REEL DEAL Chris Kattan is the latest ” Saturday Night Live” star to get a movie deal. Disney has bought ”Corky Bonono,” a comedy by producer Robert Simonds and Kattan, who will star. Veteran sitcom writers Dave Garrett and Jason Ward (”Malcolm & Eddie”) are set to write the script for ”Corky,” which is reportedly about the son of a Mob boss who is forced to work undercover for the FBI.
STRIKE The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists (AFTRA) have officially gone on strike today against TV and radio advertisers. The strike, which the unions began at 12:01 a.m. May 1, is over a dispute concerning residual payments for commercials. Union actors want to receive pay-per-play payment (a fee for each time an ad airs) for advertisements appearing on cable channels. Advertisers, however, want to continue paying a flat fee for cable ads and even to expand flat payments to regular network TV ads, which are currently under the pay-per-play system. The strike is the first walkout by the acting unions in 12 years. Reps from the advertisers’ associations say they will continue to make ads with nonunion talent overseas.
TV WATCH Showtime has ordered 22 episodes of the drama ”Queer as Folk,” an American version of the controversial British series with the same title. Only a season old in England, ”Queer” follows a group of gay Londoners. Showtime’s adaptation will be set in New Jersey, according to Variety. The cable network has yet to cast any stars, but Joel Schumacher is in negotiations to direct, with production set to star by early July in Toronto…. CBS execs are considering broadcasting the mafia drama ”Falcone” this summer. After the midseason show got disappointing ratings last month, it was unclear whether CBS would renew the series. But Variety reports that CBS programmers want to give the drama one last chance. So far, CBS hasn’t announced when ”Falcone” will air during its weekly summer schedule.