'N Sync Photograph by Andrew Southam
January 15, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST

REEL DEALS Maybe ‘N Sync won’t be in the next ”Star Wars” film after all. Joey Fatone told a Tampa radio station this week that he and his bandmates had shot a cameo as doomed Jedi extras in this summer’s ”Episode II — Attack of the Clones,” but that fan outcry sent their scene to the cutting-room floor. ”I’m going to make it officially known that they dropped it because people made a big deal about it,” Fatone told WFLZ-FM. ”We’re not going to be in it, and I’m not going to comment on it any more.”

However, a Lucasfilm spokeswoman insists that director George Lucas is impervious to fan criticism (after all, Jar Jar Binks will return in ”Clones,”) and that he has yet to make any decision on the ‘N Sync scene. ”The ‘N Sync guys were shot as extras, and whether they’re in or out won’t be determined until the final edit,” she said….

The latest honor for David Lynch, whose ”Mulholland Drive” has been racking up best picture citations from critics’ groups: He’s been chosen to head the jury at this spring’s Cannes Film Festival. Festival director Gilles Jacob noted Lynch’s reluctance to judge the work of his peers, but picked him anyway because of his ”natural elegance and acuteness of vision.”

Said Lynch in a statement, ”I feel excited, nervous and fully conscious of the responsibility I am taking on by accepting the honor of the presidency of the 55th Cannes Film festival, the world’s biggest film festival.” Lynch won the best director award for ”Mulholland” last year at Cannes (he tied with Joel Coen, cited for ”The Man Who Wasn’t There”) and won the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, for his 1990 film ”Wild at Heart.”…

”Romeo Must Die” costars DMX and Jet Li will reteam for ”Cradle to the Grave,” a thriller in which a cop (Li) and a suspected diamond smuggler (DMX) are forced to work together to thwart a terrorist. The rapper, director Andrzej Bartkowiak, and producer Joel Silver also worked together on ”Exit Wounds.” The February production marks the trio’s third collaboration — the fourth, if you count their apparently back-burnered remake of Fritz Lang‘s classic thriller ”M.”

DMX will also go before the cameras for a TV project: He’s filming a series of public service announcements urging kids to stay away from guns and be kind to animals. The PSAs are part of a plea deal that enabled the rapper (real name: Earl Simmons) to avoid prison this week when he pleaded guilty to 13 counts of animal cruelty, two counts of maintaining a nuisance and one count each of disorderly conduct and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The charges stemmed from a 1999 incident in which DMX’s uncle and business manager was shot in the foot at a New Jersey hotel. The shooting remains unsolved, but a purse belonging to the rapper’s wife, Tashera Simmons, was found at the scene, and when police went to the couple’s Teaneck, N.J., home, Tashera Simmons’ mother, Marcia Tate, told police her son-in-law had pulled a gun on her, and that the couple’s 6-year-old son and a 15-year-old cousin were present at the time.

At the house, they found a loaded pistol, six used crack pipes, and 13 pit bulls. But Tate ultimately refused to testify, leading prosecutors to drop weapons and child endangerment charges against her daughter. With the plea deal in place, DMX still faces $1,000 in fines for each count of animal cruelty when he’s sentenced on March 15.

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