This week in Hollywood -- Jan De Bont to direct ''Food,'' Michael Bay works with Nike, and the possibility of a ''Gremlins'' Furby

By Jeff Jensen
Updated January 22, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Twister director Jan De Bont hopes you like watching what you eat. After wrapping DreamWorks’ The Haunting of Hill House this spring, De Bont is slated to segue into Twentieth Century Fox’s Food. The computer-animated comedy tells of a family’s troubled Christmas from the POV of the dinner ingredients waiting to be eaten. Writer John Mattson (Free Willy 2 and 3) sat on the concept for 10 years, says producer Lucas Foster, because ”he was too embarrassed to pitch it. He thought people would think he was ready for the loony bin.” But Foster, De Bont, and Fox honcho Bill Mechanic went crazy for the premise after taste-testing it with their kids. ”In our universe,” says Foster, ”when food goes bad, it goes morally bad.” In other words, expect the rotten eggs to be really rotten.

Having saved the world from a killer asteroid, Armageddon director Michael Bay is now making the airwaves safe for green elves, boys who would be goats, and decapitation, displaying a flair for Felliniesque surrealism in a new series of Nike TV ads. ”I get itchy to shoot again. These commercials help calm me down,” says Bay, who is puzzling over year-end putdowns of Armageddon. ”I’m still trying to find out what [Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers’] ‘spirit-deadening hack job’ means.” Undecided about his next movie, Bay says: ”I’m looking to do something different, maybe more weighty. It could be smaller, but probably not bigger than Armageddon. I’m not ready to climb up that hill again.”

Will Warner Bros. use Furbymania to stage a Gremlins comeback? After the studio and Amblin Entertainment, which produced the 1984 hit, took exception to Furby’s resemblance to Gizmo (the film’s cuddly hero), legal action was averted when toy maker Hasbro agreed to compensate Warner Bros. — and, say studio insiders, promised to produce a Gremlins Furby. A spokesperson for Hasbro’s Tiger Electronics says there’s been talk of the doll, but couldn’t confirm a deal. The insiders say that strong sales of a Gremlins Furby could spark a revival of the film franchise. Furby is rumored to be headed for its own TV show, and should the premise prove too Gremlins-like, the flap could continue.