Marlee Matlin, Paul Simon, and Susan Sarandon made headlines this week

By EW Staff
August 30, 1991 at 04:00 AM EDT

Most actresses long for speaking roles, but not Marlee Matlin, who is deaf. Nonetheless, in the NBC fall series Reasonable Doubts, Matlin will play a very vocal lawyer opposite Mark Harmon. ”Speaking on the show was a decision I was terrified of,” says Matlin, who won an Oscar for 1986’s Children of a Lesser God and has spoken only once before on-screen, in the 1989 made-for-TV movie Bridge to Silence. ”I am insecure about my speech; I know deaf people do not speak as well as hearing people.” Despite this, her character ”will not have sympathy from anyone. She is used to people reacting oddly about her deafness. They talk behind her back, but she still has a way of overpowering people.”

Paul Simon’s Aug. 15 concert in Central Park drew 750,000 New Yorkers and millions of HBO viewers, but the rest of the world may have to wait until 1992 to see it on video. ”We would love to release it as soon as possible,” says Alisse Kingsley, director of publicity and promotion for Warner Reprise video. But, Kingsley adds, due to scheduling conflicts with pay cable, ”it’s safe to say it won’t be available until at least the end of the year.”

Producer David Puttnam has a major wrinkle to resolve in his current negotiations with Andy Garcia to play the title role in The Life and Death of Chico Mendes, about the slain Brazilian ecology activist. Filming in Ecuador and Brazil on the Warner Bros. release has to begin by early 1992 to avoid the onslaught of the May rainy season. However, Garcia is set to star with Dustin Hoffman and Geena Davis in A Hero and a Half, which will be shooting until next March. A source close to the production says, ”Everyone’s trying to make Garcia’s schedule work.” One side would like the actor to drop out of Hero; the other is hoping Warner execs can be convinced to postpone filming Mendes until September 1992.

When Mad Max filmmaker George Miller returned to his native Australia after a singularly unpleasant experience making 1987’s The Witches of Eastwick, he focused on his own company, Kennedy Miller, which produced 1989’s Dead Calm (and introduced Nicole Kidman to American audiences) as well as many top-rated Australian TV miniseries. Now the physician-turned-writer-director is back in the U.S.-this time on his own terms. Universal is acquiring Miller’s Lorenzo’s Oil, a drama starring Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon (who won the part over tough competition, including Michelle Pfeiffer) as parents who search for a cure for their son Lorenzo’s terminal disease and find an oil that may help him and others. Mad Max it ain’t.

Written by: Cindy Pearlman, Ty Burr, Leonard Klady, Anne Thompson