Friday, August 29, 2003

'Exorcist' director dismissed

Los Angeles -- The devil is in the details of "Exorcist IV: The Beginning."

Director Paul Schrader says he's been fired from work on the upcoming thriller, which is a prequel to the acclaimed 1973 original about a demon-possessed little girl.

The filmmaker, whose directing credits include 1997's "Affliction" and last year's "Auto Focus," said Wednesday that he had completed a final edit of the movie, which he described as a psychological thriller.

The rift that led to Schrader's recent dismissal reportedly started when executives at Morgan Creek Productions decided to make the tone of "Exorcist IV" more horrific -- with more shocks and gore -- after shooting had been completed.

Hayek gets friendly at festival

Venice, Italy -- Salma Hayek and Robert Rodriguez were on hand for a special free screening of "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over" for hundreds of children at this year's Venice Film Festival.

Members of the film industry who flock to the annual festival don't always endear themselves to the locals who live on the Lido island off central Venice. So this year, festival organizers and Miramax Films put together a special treat for the youngsters.

About 1,700 tickets were handed out for Thursday's screening. The movie isn't scheduled for release in Italy until early next year.

This is the third in the "Spy Kids" series, directed by Rodriguez and starring Hayek and Antonio Banderas.

New Mexico courts king film

Santa Fe, N.M. -- Elvis has not only left the building, he took $7.5 million with him.

The State Investment Council voted unanimously Tuesday to loan that amount to a private company to underwrite nearly all the cost of a film it will produce in New Mexico.

"Elvis Has Left the Building," starring Kim Basinger and directed by Joel Zwick, begins shooting next month in the Albuquerque area.

Described as a black comedy, it's about a cosmetics saleswoman who travels to Las Vegas from Memphis, Tenn., leaving behind a trail of dead Elvis impersonators.

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding," which Zwick directed, was a low-budget sleeper -- made for $5 million -- that turned into a blockbuster. "Elvis Has Left the Building" has an $8 million budget.

He's a music man, too

New York -- Picturing Wolverine from the "X-Men" movies as a Broadway song-and-dance man may seem like a stretch. But before he played a comic book hero, Hugh Jackman was known for his musical theater work.

Starting in October, he'll get the chance to show off those talents again in "The Boy From Oz," the Broadway musical in which he stars as Peter Allen, the flamboyant showman best known for pop songs including "(When My Baby Smiles at Me) I Go to Rio." Allen died of AIDS in 1992.

To prepare for the physically demanding role, Jackman has put himself through "quite a strict regimen."

"I've been sort of training, doing some yoga, and trying to stretch and get into shape," he said.