Michael Jackson's home movies are held for ransom
Plus, Salma Hayek, Michael Douglas, Marilyn Monroe, Jewel, Led Zeppelin, and more
MEMORY ROBBERS Someone has stolen Michael Jackson‘s home movies and is demanding $100,000 from the singer or else the thief will sell them to the highest-bidding tabloid. The videotapes — stolen when Jackson was in Paris in July — have footage of Jackson playing with his two kids at his Neverland ranch and at Euro Disney, and one tabloid has already confirmed that it was offered the tapes, according to MTV News. The singer’s lawyer has released a statement saying that the tapes are stolen property and Jackson has the copyright on them, and anyone who buys them will be sued — and here we paraphrase — until their heads explode.
CASTING Salma Hayek will star in ”Time Code 2000,” a low-budget psychodrama that takes place in one day. Mike Figgis (”Leaving Las Vegas”) will direct the low-budget film, which will be largely improvised and filmed with digital cameras…. Patricia Arquette has joined Adam Sandler’s new film, ”Little Nicky”…. Gregory Hines has nabbed a recurring role on ”Will & Grace” as the titular pair’s lawyer friend…. Jonathan Pryce (”Tomorrow Never Dies”) will play a murdered singer whose fan-club president (Kathy Bates) and ex-lover (Rupert Everett) try to find his killer in ”Unconditional Love.”
ARRESTED Michael Douglas‘s 20-year-old son, Cameron, was arrested for criminal possession of cocaine on Wednesday, and he could face up to a year in jail, according to Reuters. To be fair, sometimes mind-altering drugs are the only way to deal with the prospect that Catherine Zeta-Jones may be your stepmom.
MEMORABILIA MOOLAH Looks like we have a new champion in the deified-female-celebrity ranking: The dress that Marilyn Monroe wore while singing ”Happy Birthday” to JFK sold at Christie’s for $1.27 million Wednesday, easily outpricing the previous highest-priced-dress record holder, the $225,000 blue gown that Princess Diana wore to a 1985 White House dinner where she danced with John Travolta. (See our Monroe doctrine feature, which includes script pages with Monroe’s scribbled notes that were part of the Christie’s auction.)
TOP SELLER With 11 million copies shipped to stores, Jewel‘s debut album ”Pieces of You” has tied with Shania Twain’s ”The Women in Me” to become the fourth-highest-selling album ever by a female artist. Meanwhile, Jewel’s story about living in a van has qualified as the third-most-repeated anecdote by a celebrity.
REEL DEALS Michael Hoffman (”A Midsummer Night’s Dream”) will direct ”Looney Radio,” the true story of a man who started a radio show deejayed by mental patients. Oh, so that’s how morning zoos were born…. DreamWorks has signed a four-picture deal with Britain’s Aardman Animations, which produced the ”Wallace and Gromit” series. The two have already paired on the movie ”Chicken Run” (coming out next June), with voice roles by Mel Gibson and Miranda Richardson.
ADAPTATIONS Fox has landed the movie rights to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ”Tender Is the Night,” and is looking for directors to develop the project for a hot young star. (As if a studio would be aiming to headline an old, over-the-hill nobody.) Fox made a film version of the classic novel back in 1962, but it was widely considered to be watered down…. TNT is planning a four-hour miniseries based on Ayn Rand’s ”Atlas Shrugged.”
BEST OF Led Zeppelin will release their first official ”best of” album on Nov. 23. Called ”Early Days: The Best of Led Zeppelin Volume 1,” the CD will feature tunes from the band’s first four albums. (Volume 2 will be out early next year.) This will be the perfect gift for the four people who did not buy all of the band’s albums when they were 14 years old.
SAVED FOR THE AGES ”Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz is planning a museum dedicated to his comic strip in Santa Rosa, Calif. The 17,000-square-foot building would have galleries, a research center, and a 99-seat theater. If you ever take a tour, avoid the schoolteacherish guides who can only say incomprehensibly, ”Wa wa wa waaaaah wa wa.”
OBITUARY Abraham Polonsky, a writer/director who was a victim of the Hollywood blacklist of the 1950s, died on Tuesday from heart failure at the age of 88. Polonsky wrote the acclaimed script for ”Body and Soul,” and wrote and directed ”Force of Evil,” but after refusing to name names to the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1951, he had to write for TV under a pseudonym until 1968. Polonsky was extremely outspoken in his opposition to Elia Kazan getting an honorary Oscar last year.