Plus, Backstreet Boys are set to release their second album, and the makers of 'The Matrix' have a new project with classic horror director George Romero
TOURING Superstars Paul Simon and Bob Dylan are teaming up for a 32-date summer tour, beginning June 6 in Colorado Springs. The duo will play separate 75-minute sets, and will team for a 30 minute set of duets to close each show. While Dylan has been touring constantly over the years, playing live is a new twist for Simon. “I haven’t performed in seven years, so I’m looking forward to it,” Simon tells EW Online. “When I stopped, I didn’t want to play anymore, so working on (my Broadway show) ‘The Capeman’ was perfect timing. But I like the idea of playing again and playing with a band and seeing how the songs have held up.”
BACKSTREET’S BACK The Backstreet Boys have just finished shooting the video for their new single, “I Want It That Way,” in Los Angeles. The song will be released on April 12 and will be the first taste of the group’s second album, “Millennium,” which hits stores on May 18.
UNAPOLOGETIC The National Association of Social Workers sent an angry letter to ABC complaining about ”The Norm Show,” in which Norm Macdonald‘s character, an ex-NHL player, is assigned as a case worker without any training or license. Unsurprisingly, the anti-P.C. Macdonald isn’t apologizing. ”Angered by me playing a social worker?” he says. ”Hey, I’m just pretending. It’s make-believe. How about those shows where there’s aliens?”
APOLOGETIC The producers of ”Xena: Warrior Princess” have pulled an episode out of international distribution, giving in to weeks of protests by Hindu groups who claimed it made light of their religion. The show, which already aired in the States last month, has two Hindu deities helping Xena on an adventure, and the groups claimed it made their gods seem like fictional characters. Representatives from ”Xena”’s production company apologized for any offense, and agreed to withhold the episode, although they did say they may try to alter it so it won’t be problematic.
REEL DEAL Now that the Wachowski brothers have a hit with ”The Matrix,” studios are clamoring for whatever else they’ve ever worked on. Trimark has bought an unproduced script they wrote years ago, ”Carnivore,” a creepy tale about a boarding house whose residents keep disappearing. The brothers will executive-produce it, while horror veteran George Romero (”Dawn of the Dead”) will likely direct.
LAWSUIT A judge has rejected Disney’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit against the company by Steven Brill, the writer of the three ”Mighty Ducks” movies, who is asking for 5 percent of all revenues from Disney’s NHL hockey team named after the film franchise. Brill has claimed that according to a Writers Guild clause, he is owed a cut from all money taken in both by the Mighty Ducks team and all of its merchandising. That sum could be a doozy, considering the Ducks’ merchandising earnings make up 80 percent of total earnings from all NHL merchandising. Disney had claimed that the union’s laws do not include spin-offs of this size, but now the case will likely go to trial…. Three of Tammy Wynette’s daughters have filed a lawsuit against the late country singer’s husband and a doctor for encouraging the drug habit that they claim killed her last April at the age of 55. The sisters are asking for $50 million in compensatory damages, and an unspecified amount of punitive damages, reportedly saying that although the cause of death was officially listed as natural causes, it was really a result of Dr. Wallis March ”negligently” keeping Wynette on a string of addictive prescriptions, and her husband and manager (and their stepfather), George Richey, failing to help her kick the drugs when ”he could have and should have known that failure to do so would or could result in the catastrophic event of her death.” The defendants had no comment.
CASTING Bridget Fonda and Saturday’s Night Live’s Chris Kattan are about to join Brendan Fraser in ”Monkey Bone,” a combination of live action and stop-motion animation about a cartoonist who falls into a coma and wakes up in a twisted animated world…. Sammo Hung (”Martial Law”) is jumping into American movies on his summer vacation, reteaming with an old costar from China, Jackie Chan, in ”Shanghai Noon”…. Barry Pepper, who played ”Saving Private Ryan”’s religious sharpshooter, is poised to join John Travolta in the sci-fi blockbuster ”Battlefield Earth.” Pepper would be the good guy, fighting to save Earth in the year 3000 from an evil race of aliens led by Travolta who have enslaved the human race…. Gene Wilder will reprise his character — a theater director who dabbles in detective work — from the TV movie ”Murder in a Small Town” in a series of telefilms for A&E. The next installment, ”The Lady in Question,” begins filming in May.
(additional reporting by David Browne)