By Gregory Kirschling
Updated October 15, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

MOVIES Steve Zahn is down Mexico way filming Bandidas, a Western comedy with Salma Hayek and Penélope Cruz as two Robin Hood-type bandits in 1888. ”Today we’re shooting a scene where they blackmail me by tying me down to a bed and having a midget that works at the saloon take pictures as they climb all over me,” he reports. ”We’ve shot three days of me in my birthday suit.” Good thing he’s old friends with both actresses — actually, he just spent six months in Africa ”eating sand” with Cruz for the upcoming epic Sahara. ”It’s nice to do a movie where you know people,” he says. ”You don’t have to go through that two weeks of sniffing butt, you know what I mean?” Sniffing butt? ”Not literally, dude! Like you’re thrown into the pound. Any movie, you’re like, ‘We’re gonna have to make out or whatever and now I have to get to know you, so let’s go get dinner. Where are you from? Oh, fantastic! You like macaroni art too? This is gonna be great!”’… By the power of Grayskull, John Woo has the power! The Payback helmer is gonna direct Fox 2000’s live-action version of He-Man, the all-time great action-figure/cartoon series starring an ax-wielding gladiator with a pageboy, a giant green kitty, and a bone-faced dark nemesis named Skeletor.

TELEVISION Speaking of Salma Hayek, when she’s done crawling over Steve Zahn’s naked body, she’ll bring an Americanized version of the Mexican telenovela Betty La Fea — or Ugly Betty — to ABC…. Superscreenwriter John August (Charlie’s Angels, Big Fish) and Prince of Persia videogame creator Jordan Mechner are having such a fine time cowriting the Prince of Persia movie for Jerry Bruckheimer that they’ve decided to do a topical globe-trotting TV action drama for Fox, too. ”It’s about two guys who run their own mom-and-pop private military corporation,” August says. ”They’re modern mercenaries, mostly working in the most difficult parts of the world.” Sounds controversial, but August promises it’s ”more an adventure and less a commentary on things.” So more like…no. ”We’re not The A-Team.”