By Gregory Kirschling
Updated January 09, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

MOVIES ”Finally!” Ving Rhames is on the phone, and he’s pumped. ”Finally, we’re doing Sonny Liston!” The Undisputed star starts heavy training this very week to play the mean ol’ heavyweight champ in a long-delayed biopic. ”We start shooting in March, and we’ve got a good cast,” he says — Sex and the City’s Blair Underwood as Floyd Patterson and Forrest Gump’s Mykelti Williamson as Muhammad Ali, who whupped Liston (twice!). ”And the other one [we’re close to getting] is a very big name — that’s all I’ll say,” he says. ”Like, very big.” C’mon, man, who is it? ”Hey, bud, that’s my wife, I gotta run.” Click. Oh, that old trick!… If you thought Tim Allen was fat and hairy in The Santa Clause, wait till you see him as a lawyer-turned-canine in The Shaggy Dog, a remake of Disney’s The Shaggy D.A. And speaking of Santa Claus, Allen will first star opposite Jamie Lee Curtis in Skipping Christmas, an adaptation of John Grisham’s goo-hearted holiday best-seller…. No stranger to horror, retired vampire slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar will scream her guts out in The Grudge, a remake of Ju-on, a Japanese thriller about a killer curse.

BOOKS The Twins of Tribeca, an upcoming Hollywood satire from former Miramaxer Rachel Eve Pine, could do to Miramax and the Weinstein brothers (the ”twins” of the title) what The Devil Wears Prada did for Anna Wintour and Vogue. But whoa — Miramax Books is publishing! What gives? ”We definitely have a sense of humor about ourselves,” a Miramax spokesman says. ”We certainly allow our authors the freedom to write what they see.”