Hollywood's MIA projects | EW.com


Hollywood's MIA projects

On the trail of some ventures that have gone astray, from Paul Reuben's sitcom to a ''Frosty the Snowman'' movie starring George Clooney

Hollywood is the short-attention-span capital of the world. What is heralded as the biggest-budgeted, most star-packed project one day vanishes into the entertainment ether the next. Whither some of these once-hot works of Tinseltown art?

PROJECT: Paul Reubens’ sitcom. Status: In October 1996, Reubens (a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman) signed a development deal with the Carsey-Werner production company to star in a high-concept comedy in which he would play several different characters. Each of the Big Four networks expressed interest in the project — at the time, Reubens was riding high thanks to rave reviews for his turn as a sniveling conniver on Murphy Brown — and the show reportedly was put on the fast track for this fall. But a spokesman for the production company says the script is still in development, and producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner are reluctant to sign a network deal before the show’s concept is firmed up. (A spokesman for Reubens had no comment.) Prognosis: Most likely, ”Must-See Pee-wee” won’t be — until next season.

PROJECT: Warner Bros.’ big-screen version of Frosty the Snowman, starring George Clooney. Status: Last November the ER star expressed interest in headlining what seemed like an intriguingly bizarre project — a live-action take on the classic children’s character, to be directed by horror-meister Sam Raimi (the Evil Dead series). But the screenplay by Mark Steven Johnson (Grumpier Old Men) took longer than expected to develop, only recently being finalized after a rewrite by Raimi and his screenwriter brother Ivan. ”It’s a tricky concept to pull off,” a Warner spokesperson says of the tale, which involves a neglectful father who dies and is reincarnated as a lovable snowman. ”We [didn’t] have the right script until now.” But now may be too late: Clooney has dropped out, citing his rigorous filming schedule (he’s slated to shoot the crime drama Out of Sight for Universal in the fall, then Warner’s The Wild Wild West with Will Smith in April). Warner has offered the role to John Travolta, but a new leading man may mean more script changes. Regardless of casting, Warner plans to start shooting the film, now called Jack Frost, in January. Prognosis: Unless they get a real star to commit, this Frosty may be toast.

PROJECT: Salt ‘N’ Pepa’s next CD. Status: After breaking into the mainstream big time with their 1993 multiplatinum album Very Necessary, it seemed as if Cheryl James (Salt), Sandi Denton (Pepa), and Dee Dee Roper (Spinderella) — the original spice girls — had taken a powder…for nearly four years. In reality, the group was taking its, uh, sweet time recording new tracks, and an album reportedly was to have hit stores earlier this year. The hitch? First, the trio split with longtime producer Hurby Azor in April. Then they got entangled in negotiations to leave MCA for another label. The group had discussions with newly formed Red Ant — founded by former MCA chief Al Teller, who originally signed them — but those talks may have hit a snag when Red Ant’s parent company, Alliance, filed for bankruptcy in July. The threesome are now considering other labels, as well as possibly staying with MCA. Still, manager Darryll Brooks expects the next album, appropriately titled Brand New, to be out by late September. Prognosis: Unless the group settles on a home soon, fans may have to pass on the Salt ‘N’ Pepa.