Plus, ''Happy Accidents,'' from the director of ''Session 9,'' will finally see the light of day

By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
Updated August 14, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Spears: Sara Deboer/American Foto Features/Retna

SPEARS CARRIER Just when we were ready to bestow Britney Spears with the title of diva, the girl is making us reevaluate: Spears, whose name adorns the front of Madonna’s shirt, for goddess’ sake, is making her film debut in an $11 million ensemble film. Qu’est-ce que c’est que ça? ”She’s a very serious young woman, and she had no feeling like Put me in ‘Tomb Raider,”’ says producer Ann Carli. The recently wrapped, still untitled drama, directed by Tamra Davis (”Billy Madison”), costars Spears as a teenager rebonding with childhood friends (young actresses Taryn Manning and Zoë Saldana) on a road trip; Kim Cattrall and Dan Aykroyd play Spears’ parents. While Spears was actively involved in developing the script, she neither asked for nor received a producing credit, something even Spears’ lapdog could have had for the barking. Even weirder: While Spears warbles in the movie, there are no plans for a soundtrack album. Says Carli, ”Britney and her managers really wanted her to [have] a shot for a credible acting career.”

UN-‘HAPPY’ DIRECTOR Sundance-goers saw ”Happy Accidents,” the third movie by director Brad Anderson (”Next Stop Wonderland”) two festivals ago, but audiences won’t see the IFC release until Aug. 24, two weeks after Anderson’s fourth movie, ”Session 9,” hits theaters. According to Anderson, Paramount Classics’ interest in the romantic comedy, which stars Vincent D’Onofrio and Marisa Tomei, essentially took it off the market at Sundance; when talks fell apart over contractual disagreements, ”we got kind of screwed,” says Anderson. One executive who saw ”Accidents” agrees that when a studio ”gets close and pulls out, it’s definitely chilling to other likely homes for the movie,” but adds, ”the movie was also hurt by not living up to its hype.”

(Additional reporting by Cindy Pearlman)