Naomi Watts Tries on 'The Ring' |


Naomi Watts Tries on 'The Ring'

Plus Blair Underwood, "The Great Gatsby", and more news from Hollywood

DEAD RINGERS You’d think it would be easy keeping track of who the movie star of the moment is, but even we have a hard time monitoring Hollywood’s mercurial ways. Witness the casting cry for Ring, a thriller about a videotape that brings a nasty death to any poor couch potato who watches it. The DreamWorks project, which will be directed by Gore Verbinski (The Mexican), was first offered to Jennifer Connelly (Requiem for a Dream), who’s generating strong buzz for her performance opposite Russell Crowe in Universal’s forthcoming A Beautiful Mind. When Connelly passed, the script was offered to Gwyneth Paltrow, who, the last time we checked, was second to no one in wattage. When Paltrow declined, the project then passed into the hands of Kate Beckinsale and Naomi Watts. Hardly a fair bake-off, since Beckinsale charmed the masses in Serendipity, while Watts’ moment of glory came in David Lynch’s weirdo Mulholland Drive, but guess who won? ”We love Kate,” says a DreamWorks source, but ”we went with Naomi because [studio cohead] Walter Parkes was blown away by her performance in Mulholland Drive.”

GATSBY RAPS Here’s our vote for most interesting project of the week: Blair Underwood (Rules of Engagement) has completed a contemporary adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Long Island fable The Great Gatsby, with an African-American cast that includes Richard T. Jones (Judging Amy). ”It’s called G,” says Underwood, explaining, ”New money in the Hamptons today would be the hip-hop moguls like Russell Simmons and P. Diddy, so it’s a take on that, with a Gatsbyesque character as a rap mogul.”