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Reel World

This week in Hollywood

BILLY BOBS AND WEAVES As an actor he’s known for his slow Arkansas drawl, but when he’s behind the camera Billy Bob Thornton cuts to the quick. Before his upcoming Miramax comedy Daddy and Them was in the can, the director was already working on Columbia’s adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy Western All the Pretty Horses. Currently in postproduction on that film, he’s now helming The Shipping News, also for Columbia. Not that he enjoys preproduction. ”It’s such a pain in my ass,” he says. ”I trust my cinematographer and location people. We’re used to making movies with no money, and here we were with all this money for Horses, and the studio is nervous, saying ‘Why aren’t you on location?’ They’re not used to directors not being freaked out.” Does he have any use for the basic tools of organization? ”We don’t do storyboards,” Thornton says, ”and on Horses, which is a monster, we didn’t have a shot list. We made it up as we went along.” (With additional reporting by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh)

THE EXORCIST TOO Heads could be spinning in Hollywood again, as the Exorcist franchise may soon creep back into production. Morgan Creek, which made 1990’s Exorcist III, is scaring up two new demonic projects: a movie prequel and a pilot for a TV series. The prequel, centering on Father Merrin (played in the 1973 original by Max von Sydow) and his first battle with Satan, is set to begin preproduction in the fall, though cast and crew have not been signed. The TV series will follow a priest who investigates mysterious conflicts between good and evil. Why the devil are they once again tinkering with a classic? Well, money, of course, but also, as Morgan Creek president James G. Robinson says, ”it’s still a really scary story.” — David Hochman