Plus, Nicole Kidman, Rupert Everett, John Travolta, Cate Blanchett, Pop.com, Fox shake-up, MTV, and more
ONLINE DEVELOPMENTS The Web just got weirder: David Lynch has signed to develop a series of three-minute animated shorts called ”Dumbland” for Shockwave.com. ”It’s going to be very crude, but sophisticatedly crude,” Lynch told Variety. ”It’s very dumb and it’s very bad quality.” David Lynch: Master of the Hard Sell…. The yet-to-be-launched online network Pop.com (cofounded by Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, DreamWorks, and Paul Allen) has announced the creation of the Popfest channel, for which visitors can submit their own short films. These works will be shown online and viewers will vote on their favorites; the winning directors may be considered by the heavy-hitting site heads for film projects.
CASTING Nicole Kidman and Rupert Everett may team to play real-life 1920s bohemians Gerald and Sara Murphy in ”Everybody Was So Young.” The couple abandoned their life of privilege in New York and moved to Paris, where they legendarily inspired characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s and Ernest Hemingway’s novels…. John Travolta is looking at ”Quiller Solitaire,” a movie based on a series of novels about a British spy. If this works, the character could become a franchise for Travolta, keeping his chef employed for years to come…. Cate Blanchett will be the distaff side of a love triangle with two bank robbers (Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton) in ”Outlaws”…. Add Tom Sizemore‘s salary to the budget of ”Pearl Harbor,” because he’s coming aboard…. Anthony LaPaglia will be the single-dad roommate of John Goodman — who plays a gay single pop — in next season’s Fox sitcom, ”Don’t Ask”…. Jack Black (”High Fidelity,” and half of Tenacious D) is finally getting paid what he’s worth: He’s been signed for $1 million to take the lead in ”Saving Silverman,” playing a guy trying to convince his friend not to get married.
STEPPING DOWN Fox president Doug Herzog has announced his resignation after only 15 months on the job. Herzog came to Fox after turning Comedy Central into a cable power. This, his first full season, began as a disaster, with ”Action,” ”Harsh Realm,” ”Ally,” and ”Time of Your Life” bombing, and ”Party of Five” plummeting in the ratings. He finally got some good news with the successes of ”Malcolm in the Middle” and ”Titus,” but by then he apparently already wanted out. Variety says that he’s been expected to leave since last fall, when Sandy Grushow was hired to oversee Fox Television and Fox Broadcasting, and the two men had very different working styles. Herzog hasn’t said what he’s doing next (other than going on vacation), but Variety reports that he’s been approached by some cable networks and such Internet companies as Shockwave.com and Pop.com.
NEW SCHEDULE Keeping up its effort to make videos all but invisible on the network, MTV has announced six new shows in the works to fill up its ”10 Spot” programming. This new roster includes: ”M.I.A.,” a ”where are they now” show; ”2Gether: The Series,” based on the recent boy-band TV movie; ”Spy Groove,” an animated show about Gen-Y secret agents; and ”MTV Cribs,” which gives tours of stars’ homes. Why show Limp Bizkit’s video when instead you can show the room where Fred Durst keeps his Playstation?
REEL DEALS Edward Burns (”The Brothers McMullen”) is developing the sitcom pilot ”The Fighting Fitzgeralds” for NBC. The comedy (which may star Brian Dennehy) is about an Irish father and his three sons, terrain all too familiar for Burns…. Glenn Close has teamed with HBO to produce a series of live one-hour dramas. Close’s producing partner is ”Murphy Brown”’s Robert Pastorelli, and the duo is replacing Whoopi Goldberg and Frank Langella as World’s Most Unlikeliest Names to Be Seen Together.
SCATTERED L.A. police made the celebrity hounds who had camped out in front of the Shrine Auditorium for the Oscars pack up their tents and leave on Tuesday. But in the spirit of Hollywood generosity (possibly history’s first example), the Academy handed out vouchers to the scattered fans that will allow them first pick of the bleacher seats for when the stars arrive on Sunday.
SEASON DELAY In order to avoid the irregular ratings bump that NBC will score with its summer Olympics coverage (which will last from Sept. 15 to Oct. 1), Nielsen has announced that the official fall season will begin two weeks later than usual, on Oct. 2. All of the other networks are thrilled by the decision, which evens the playing field, but NBC says the delay is unfair, considering that no special exceptions are made for other major events like the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics. But it’s all good for the home viewer, because the extra network reruns means you’ll finally get to catch that ”Dharma & Greg” rerun that you missed the FIRST FIVE TIMES it aired this year.