'The General,' the Paparazzi, and 'Cruel Intentions' made movie news the week of October 9, 1998

Kevin Spacey has just begun shooting Ordinary Decent Criminal, a fictionalized biopic based on legendary Irish criminal Martin Cahill, for Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions and Miramax. But with Sony Pictures Classics’ The General, also based on Cahill’s life, due Dec. 18, 1998, is there room for another film about a guy who was obsessed with pigeons and motorcycles, nailed a man to a pool table, and carried on with both his wife and her sister? ”It’s a marvelous, extraordinary story, so I can understand other people being interested,” says John Boorman, who won Best Director for The General at Cannes. ”But clearly it’s going to be the same sort of story. I’m sure it will put Mr. Spacey on his mettle.” — Jessica Shaw

Since Princess Diana’s death, the scooter-riding paparazzi have been about as popular in Europe as mad-cow disease. So more and more of them have been moving to Los Angeles, making life a little less cozy for the town’s already snap-weary citizens. ”That’s why Tom and I are staying in London,” says Nicole Kidman. ”L.A. is attracting the sleaziest paparazzi from all over the world. It’s a f—ing nightmare.” According to a source at an L.A. photo agency, one French import recently climbed a tree to catch a topless Elizabeth Hurley sunbathing in her garden. The situation is getting so out of hand, even folks on the business end of the camera are starting to complain. ”The foreign photographers are a lot sneakier,” says the source. ”They’re the real bush jumpers. It’s making the competition out here a lot tougher.” — Benjamin Svetkey

Forget what’s in a name. More like, what’s in a letter? Columbia’s buzz film of next spring, formerly titled Cruel Inventions, which puts Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon, and Ryan Phillippe in a Dangerous Liaisons-style triangle, is now called Cruel Intentions. ”I named it after a Sam Phillips album,” says screenwriter-director Roger Kumble. ”But [Columbia] thought it sounded like a science-fiction movie about a bad gynecology toy. And you know what? As long as they’re not using a bad ’80s song title, I’m okay with it.” — Jessica Shaw