News From Hollywood

By Adam Duerson and Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
June 21, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

Rescinded Grant Just in case you needed more evidence that running naked pictures of unsuspecting celebs can be more trouble than it’s worth, we present Toby Young, whose autobiography, the British best-seller How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, will be published here July 4. One major studio that inquired about Hugh Grant’s interest in the project discovered that Grant is hardly a Young fan, and subsequently passed. ”I have a long-standing feud with Elizabeth Hurley,” explains Young, thanks to his decision in 1994 to print nude pictures of the buff babe while he was editor of Modern Review. FilmFour — ironically, the company behind Four Weddings and a Funeral — has now optioned the project, on which Young will try his hand as a screenwriter, adapting his account of his sad-sack days working as a journalist in New York. While Young plans to make the story a more straightforward romantic comedy, he’s hardly turning himself into a heartthrob. ”The ideal person to play me would be Philip Seymour Hoffman or Jack Black,” says Young. Besides, adds the 38-year-old, at 41, ”Hugh Grant’s too old.”

Making A Racket Paul Bettany, who played Russell Crowe’s roommate in A Beautiful Mind and splits a role with Malcolm McDowell in Gangster No. 1 (see review on facing page), plans on starring in a biopic about the late tennis champ Vitas Gerulaitis. But first, he’s on deck to costar with Crowe in the maritime war epic Master and Commander. ”It’s a five-month shoot,” says Bettany. ”After that, I want to do something where I can sit down on couches and drink pink gin.”

Furthermore Wally Lamb has adapted his 1992 best-seller She’s Come Undone for Warner Bros.; Reese Witherspoon is attached to star.