TWO-TIMER After the family comedy ”Spy Kids” did some serious adult business this spring, director Robert Rodriguez planned to focus on developing the sequel. Instead, he’s headed south of the border, where he’s making the follow-up to ”Desperado,” the supercheap 1995 action film that made stars of him, Antonio Banderas, and Salma Hayek. Shot on high-definition video, ”Once Upon a Time in Mexico” will spice up the reunion of El Mariachi and Hayek with Willem Dafoe, Ruben Blades, Mickey Rourke, and pop star Enrique Iglesias in his first acting gig. The most recent addition to the adventure, which has the minstrel taking on a corrupt cartel leader, is Johnny Depp, who will play a CIA agent; Quentin Tarantino, who was to play a henchman, has had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts.
GOOD WILL HUNTING We hear that Paramount’s thriller ”Tag,” written by Eric Kmetz, is being considered by one of our favorite box office thrills, Will Smith. Now filming ”Men in Black 2,” Smith would play an innocent hero who becomes the target of hitmen involved in a global conspiracy. A source who has read the script describes it as ”a big action version of ‘Three Days of the Condor.”’
‘O’ IS ME Only recently did Tim Blake Nelson find a distributor for ”O,” which Dimension, after deeming the film too difficult to release, sold to Lions Gate. Now Nelson would like a distributor for his latest effort, ”The Grey Zone,” which stars Harvey Keitel and Mira Sorvino, but the film’s financier wants to go the festival route. Says Nelson, ”I think that’s wrong for this movie. We did that with ‘Eye of God’ at Sundance, which got critical plaudits, but there was no feeding frenzy because it was such a downer.” ”Eye,” about sad-sack lives in an Oklahoma town, was downright chipper compared with ”The Grey Zone,” which tells the story of Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz.
Additional reporting by Daniel Fierman