Scanning Hollywood for projects lost but not forgotten, like "The Kentucky Cycle," and "The Mask II"

Hollywood’s hype machine is a 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year juggernaut. Every second it seems another star-driven, mega-budgeted opus is announced. But once the next high-profile project is trotted out, the previous one can mysteriously vanish into the entertainment equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle. So where have some of these formerly hot properties gone? EW did some snooping:

Project: Quentin Tarantino‘s next directorial gig. Status: In the three years since Pulp Fiction, the once-ubiquitous boy wonder has sat behind the camera only twice — for a flaccid segment in 1995’s auteur anthology Four Rooms and for a weird episode of ER. But the wait will soon be over. Tarantino is writing a script of Elmore Leonard’s comic crime novel Rum Punch and should begin directing the hard-boiled movie in February or March for Miramax. As a bonus, Tarantino’s feature version of God Said Ha!, Julia Sweeney’s acclaimed stage monologue, should pop up on this year’s film-festival circuit. In addition, the director will develop and executive-produce a sequel to last year’s vampire flick From Dusk Till Dawn (which he wrote, produced, and starred in), to be shot simultaneously with a prequel that director Robert Rodriguez is developing. Prognosis: Bloody good.

Project: The Mask II. Status: Jim Carrey’s 1994 comic-book comedy raked in $119 million at the box office, so it’s no surprise that New Line signed the rubber-faced ham for Part Deux. The studio had hoped to start filming this year, but Carrey never learned to say ”Somebody stop me!” in real life. He just wrapped Universal’s Liar, Liar (due in March) and is now filming Paramount’s The Truman Show. After that he’s committed to a remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, also for New Line. And then he’ll don the magical mask again? Sighs New Line’s VP of corporate publicity, Steve Elzer: ”We don’t have The Mask slated for production in the near future.” Prognosis: Looks like a No ”Sssssmokin”’ section.

Project: Kevin Costner’s six-hour HBO miniseries, The Kentucky Cycle. Status: In 1995, the Dances With Wolves director lined up for another project of epic proportions — directing, producing, and starring in an adaptation of the Pulitzer-winning Robert Schenkkan play. But last summer’s start date came and went, and now Costner has signed on for two films with Warner: the postapocalyptic The Postman, and an as-yet-undetermined project. Then he’ll reportedly star in Universal’s baseball flick For the Love of the Game. With such a packed slate, Costner has given HBO his blessing to look for someone else to direct. But the cable network is holding out. Says an HBO spokesperson, ”He’s still interested, and we’re still trying to make the project work with him.” Prognosis: A too-busy Costner seems to have broken this Cycle.

Project: Robert Redford’s Time and Again. Status: Fans of Jack Finney’s 1970 time-traveling novel rejoiced in the early ’90s when they heard that the Sundance Kid was going to make the movie. But they didn’t know about Redford’s reputation for taking his sweet time. Next up for him is the film of Nicholas Evans’ best-seller The Horse Whisperer. While Redford is set to star, Natalie Portman, who was to play the film’s young protagonist, just dropped out to make her Broadway debut in The Diary of Anne Frank. Which means Time may fall behind again. Prognosis: What’s the rush? The book’s already waited more than 25 years.

Project: Crusade, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s $100 million-plus action-adventure. Status: The idea of Ah-nuld gettin’ medieval sounded good when it was lined up at Carolco three years ago. The studio sank $13.3 million on the film, reportedly on sets in Spain, but then went out and rather foolishly decided to back the saber-rattling bomb Cutthroat Island. Result: Carolco is now deadco. However, the 11th-century epic is, according to his spokeswoman, on the actor’s shortlist of projects he’d like to do post-Batman & Robin. Prognosis: How could any studio pass up this sequel franchise? After all, there were eight Crusades.