Plus, Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Claire Danes, Kevin Costner, Motley Crue, Alan Funt, and more

By Josh Wolk
Updated September 07, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

REEL DEALS Stanley Kubrick‘s family is extremely enthusiastic about Steven Spielberg taking over a project that Kubrick had been developing for years: ”A.I.” (which stands for Artificial Intelligence), the story of a robot boy adopted by a single woman. Spielberg told London’s Sunday Times that he had discussed the script at length with Kubrick on the phone over the past few years, but he wouldn’t confirm if he was taking it on…. Just when your head stopped ringing from ”Armageddon,” director Michael Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer are reteaming for ”Tennessee,” a ”character-driven love story” set around the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Because what says romance like a sneak attack?… After scoring a hit with ”City of Angels,” director Brad Silberling has apparently decided that dead works for him. His next project (which he also wrote) is ”Baby’s in Black,” a love story about a man whose fiancée dies, and who then falls for a woman also grieving for a lost lover. Does mutual mourning now qualify as ”meeting cute”?

CASTING Nicole Kidman is reuniting with her ”Portrait of a Lady” director, Jane Campion, for ”In the Cut,” a steamy thriller about a college professor who gets involved with a detective investigating a murder in her neighborhood. Hooeee, if it’s half as sexy as ”Eyes Wide Shut” — then it’ll be three-quarters as sexy as ”Baby Geniuses”…. Sean Penn isn’t letting the crushing unpopularity of ”Dick” stop him from making his own Nixon-centric film. He’ll star in the based-on-fact ”The Assassination of Richard Nixon,” playing Samuel Byck, an unsuccessful furniture salesman who blamed the president for all of his troubles, and figured the best way to set that right was to kill ol’ Dicky.

SO SORRY Claire Danes has apologized for those not-so-nice comments she made this year about Manila, and now all is swell between her and the Philippines. In a couple of interviews, Danes — who shot ”Brokedown Palace” in Manila — had said the capital was ”ghastly and weird,” and that the city smelled like cockroaches and rats. Her movies were banned, but they’ve been brought back now that she sent the city council an official letter of apology. Ironically, now Filipinos are being subjected to ”The Mod Squad,” a movie that truly is ghastly and weird and smells like cockroaches and rats.

DELUDED? Kevin Costner has said that he loves all of his many bombs, no matter what the critics say. ”Maybe I don’t see myself clearly, I don’t know,” he told New York’s Daily News. ”Maybe there’s an arrogance about me or whatever. But I know the way I feel about movies is pure…. I’m not always happy about the results, but I’m happy about the choices I’ve made, because I’ve made them myself. I love ‘Wyatt Earp,’ and I really love ‘The Postman,’ and I loved making ‘The War.’ ”

HEY LADY, I MADE IT! Jerry Lewis‘s 34th annual Labor Day telethon raised $53.1 million, an all-time high for the 21-and-a-half-hour show. However, after the show’s first three hours, Lewis, 73, had to spend most of the time backstage, returning for the final four hours, because he was beset by symptoms from his recent bout with viral meningitis, such as double vision, elevated blood pressure, and severe head pain. Viewers of the show could empathize with Lewis, especially when they experienced their own severe head pain when Charo took over the stage. Dear Lord, isn’t there a mandatory retirement age for the ”coochie-coochie”?

NABBED You can say one thing about North Carolina police: They’re patient. Bassist Nikki Sixx was arrested at Friday night’s Raleigh concert for a warrant issued after a 1997 show in Greensboro when he allegedly whipped the crowd into an angry frenzy and shouted racist insults at a security guard. He’s been charged with felony rioting and three misdemeanor charges of inciting a riot, assault, and disorderly conduct, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Tommy Lee, who never likes to be too far from a good old-fashioned riot charge, is also wanted in North Carolina in connection with the same incident — but since he is no longer a member of the band, he did not perform at Friday’s show and thereby managed to evade arrest.

BUSTED! Police raided an illegal music-recording operation, and they’re calling it the biggest bootleg bust in U.S. history. Over the last week, cops stormed warehouses all over the New York City area and confiscated more than 200,000 counterfeit CDs and cassettes, as well as blank CDs, reprinted labels, and $250,000 worth of recording equipment. The bust was great news for the recording industry, which estimates this scam cost labels more than $100 million a year in their own sales. It’s also great news for low-selling artists, who can now rationalize to themselves that maybe most of their sales were off the books. Congrats, Hootie, you’re on top of the world again!

AMBUSHED A man stormed the BBC’s London newsroom last Tuesday and threatened to kill all of the staff before two employees wrestled him to the ground so police could take him away. The BBC had stepped up security after a network star, Jill Dando, was killed last May at her home; but considering the unidentified intruder got to the newsroom by jumping over a turnstile, it makes you wonder just what the BBC considers ”stepped-up security.” Extra billy clubs, perhaps?

OBITUARY Allen Funt, the creator and host of ”Candid Camera,” died on Sunday of complications from a 1993 stroke. Funt debuted his hidden-camera technique with just a mike in ”Candid Microphone,” his 1947 radio show, and moved to TV the next year. The show eventually aired on all three major networks, both as series and specials, and he served as host until 1993.