Hollywood movie news for the week of Oct. 23

A King’s Ransom Move over, Julia Roberts: Jodie Foster has all but completed negotiations to costar in Fox 2000’s Anna and the King with Chow Yun-Fat (The Replacement Killers) for a reported $15 million, which would tie Foster with Roberts as Hollywood’s best-paid leading lady. Fox confirms that shooting may begin as early as January, with Foster playing Anna Leonowens, the 19th-century governess whose diaries about her friendship with Siam’s monarch were previously adapted for the screen as Anna and the King of Siam (1946) and the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I (1956).

A Shot in the Dark Jello Shots, a script by David McKenna (American History X) and Michael Cristofer that was recently greenlit by New Line, may be headed for a sweet surrender. The Rashomon-style story follows eight Angelenos whose drunken night in a bar leads directly to jail — and to wildly divergent recollections. Trouble is, the alcoholic goop they slurp may spark a rights fracas, since Jell-O (the correct spelling) is a trademark of Kraft Foods, and according to a spokesperson, ”that makes the name our property.” Though McKenna is confident that Kraft cannot prevent filmmakers from depicting a generic gelatin, he’s anticipating a title change: ”I don’t know how many mothers are going to appreciate buying Jell-O after they see [how it’s used in] this movie.”

Trojan ‘Antz’ Now that Antz is a smash, a little secret is marching through the animation colony. Word is that DreamWorks’ brass was so determined to blindside Disney’s November release of A Bug’s Life that it drew up two production schedules — one giving the false impression that Antz wouldn’t be ready until March 1999, another revealing the true October ’98 completion target. A DreamWorks spokesperson denies the story, but a well-placed cartoonist says, ”It was Mission: Impossible time. They planned it like the Allies planned Normandy.” Earlier this month, sources say another ‘toon battle went DreamWorks’ way when Disney execs told staffers that because of story snags, they’re pushing back Kingdom of the Sun, an Inca-themed adventure, from a tentative summer 2000 slot. That leaves Disney even further behind DreamWorks’ competing conquistador project, El Dorado — City of Gold, scheduled to roll out Thanksgiving 1999.

Anna and the King
  • Movie
  • 150 minutes