THE BOY BAND BEAT The guys of ‘N Sync are ready for their close-ups. Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez, Lance Bass, and Justin Timberlake have inked a deal to star in a feature film for the production company Total Film. Details are being kept secret until May 16, when the group and the film’s producers will tell all at the Cannes Film Festival. According to the Hollywood Reporter, sources say the film, which is slated to begin shooting in early 2001, will be music based, but the guys won’t be playing themselves. Let’s hope it’s not a biopic of ”New Kids on the Block”…. In other ‘N Sync news, the group’s record-breaking album ”No Strings Attached” reamined No. 1 for the fifth consecutive week, selling 655,000 copies (up 55 percent from last week). Joe’s ”My Name Is Joe” debuted at No. 2. Rounding out the top 5 are Sisqo at No. 3, Santana at No.4, and Destiny’s Child at No. 5.
MUSIC CHARTING ‘N Sync’s record-breaking
TV WATCH It’s the never-ending show: ”Law & Order” has been renewed on NBC for five more years. NBC’s deal with producer Dick Wolf keeps the Emmy-winning court drama on the air until spring 2005, making it the longest-running police drama in TV history (”Gunsmoke” was on the air for 20 seasons). The Peacock had already ordered the series through 2002, and yesterday it picked up three more seasons (for a total of 15) for approximately $3 million per episode, up from its current $2.5 million. NBC also ordered two more seasons of the spin-off ”Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”…. Despite public protests from the gay and lesbian community, execs at Paramount TV, the studio that distributes ”Dr. Laura,” announced yesterday that they support the conservative radio host’s new TV program. Activists have protested outside the Paramount gates and started a phone campaign to force the studio to ax the show, because of comments Laura Schlessinger has made about homosexuals, calling them ”deviants” on her national radio show. But Paramount still plans to promote episodes of ”Dr. Laura,” which is scheduled to premiere on Sept. 11…. The WB is in final negotiations to renew ”The Jamie Foxx Show” for a fifth season. The sitcom, which has been a WB regular since 1996, will probably be moved from its Friday night time slot, however, to make room for ”Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” the TGIF hit the network lured away from ABC.
CASTING MTV comedian Tom Green (”Road Trip”) has signed on to star in ”The Monster,” a remake of Roberto Benigni’s 1994 Italian comedy ”Il Mostro,” about a regular guy (now played by Green) who is mistaken for a serial killer. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Benigni will serve as one of the film’s executive producers but will not be further involved with the project. Green is reportedly rewriting the script…. ”That ’70s Show” star Ashton Kutcher (Kelso) will star in the comedy ”Dude, Where’s My Car?” for Twentieth Century Fox. Scheduled for a June production start in Los Angeles, ”Dude,” a $15 million-budgeted project, is supposedly a ”Cheech and Chong” for the 21st century: It follows two pot burnouts who can’t remember where they parked their car the previous night. Sounds ”Half-Baked” to us…. ”Smoke Signals” star Adam Beach will join Nicolas Cage in the WWII film ”Windtalkers,” for MGM. The action drama, which John Woo (”Face/Off”) is directing, should start shooting in mid-August in Hawaii. The historically based film will chronicle a unit of 450 Navajo code talkers – radio men who used a Navajo dialect to encrypt sensitive messages for the U.S. armed forces in the Pacific. Cage plays a Marine ordered to protect one of the code talkers (Beach).
NUDITY ALERT Darva Conger, the woman who married millionaire Rick Rockwell on a Fox game show, may be baring it all for Playboy in an upcoming issue. According to the New York Post, Conger, whose marriage to Rockwell was annulled a few weeks ago, would receive a six-figure payday to pose for men’s magazine. But Playboy spokeswoman Elizabeth Norris told Reuters: ”We’re not confirming or denying that story. It’s our policy never to discuss anything until it may or may not happen.” Norris, however, did verify that Conger, a 34-year-old nurse, attended Hugh Hefner’s birthday party at the Playboy Mansion and is a ”friend” of the magazine.
OBIT Broadway producer extraordinaire David Merrick, who was responsible for almost 100 musicals and plays, died in his London home Tuesday night. He was 88. Merrick, who was born David Margulois in St. Louis, went on to become a six-time Tony winner for such Broadway classics as ”Hello Dolly,” ”42nd Street,” ”Oliver,” ”Gypsy,” and the Tom Stoppard play ”Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.” Merrick, whose theater career spanned more than 40 years, is survived by his sixth wife and two daughters from previous marriages.
CHARITY NEWS Steven Spielberg made a major, undisclosed contribution to build a theater at the National D-Day Memorial in Virginia. The theater, which will be named after Spielberg’s father, Arnold, is going to be part of the $4 million education center. A WWII vet, Arnold Spielberg was a radio operator during Air Corps missions in Burma. The memorial is scheduled to open June 6, 2001, the 57th anniversary of D-Day.