POLITICAL AFFLECKTATIONS After the press got its easily bunched knickers in a twist over Ben Affleck’s voting record (or lack thereof), he seemed to pipe down about his political aspirations. But judging by how well Affleck recently schmoozed his Hollywood elders, he may want to reconsider a run for office. When the ”Pearl Harbor” star was offered the plum part of CIA agent Jack Ryan in Paramount’s upcoming Tom Clancy flick, ”The Sum of All Fears,” he hit the hustings to wrangle the support of former Ryans Alec Baldwin (”The Hunt for Red October”) and Harrison Ford (”Patriot Games,” ”Clear and Present Danger”). ”Subconsciously it was me looking for an endorsement,” says Affleck, who reportedly snagged $10 million for the role. ”If they sneered at the idea of me doing it, I would have seriously thought twice about it. But Harrison was like ‘Knock yourself out. I don’t want to do these movies anymore.”’ With the groveling out of the way, Affleck just finished shooting ”Sum” with Morgan Freeman in Montreal. No word yet on whether he pressed the flesh with Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien while in town.
WHOA, DADDY Anyone who’s seen some of the kinkier fare on Pedro Almodóvar’s résumé knows that the Spanish auteur isn’t afraid to get a bit freaky. But according to Antonio Banderas, the director’s next project makes ”Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” sound like ”The Little Mermaid.” Tentatively titled ”Tarantula,” the psychological thriller will star Banderas as a plastic surgeon whose 15-year-old daughter is raped. As revenge, he hunts down the sexual predator, takes him hostage in his basement, and then punishes him by surgically turning him into a woman. If that weren’t creepy enough, Banderas says his character winds up falling in love with his ”Frankenstein masterpiece.” Banderas, who’s currently in Mexico doing double duty (with Salma Hayek in ”Frida” and Johnny Depp in ”Once Upon a Time in Mexico”), says ”Tarantula” will go before the cameras next summer. And while Banderas admits the Almodóvar project sounds more twisted than a Bachman’s pretzel, he adds that deep down the story is ”unbelievably beautiful.” Ooooh-kay.