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Reel World

News From Hollywood

– HAMMER TIME To all those who believe there are no new ideas, allow us to draw your attention to The Hebrew Hammer, a Jewish exploitation comedy. Written and directed by recent film-school graduate Jonathan Kesselman, Hammer stars Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan) as an Orthodox Jew who must triumph over an evil Santa in order to save Hanukkah. Universal expressed interest in developing the project, but, says Kesselman, ”it would have been a Chris Rock-and-Ben Stiller black/Jew buddy picture, and I wouldn’t have been able to direct.” Instead, Kesselman persuaded producer Ed Pressman (American Psycho) to back the film, which includes a comic turn by Mario Van Peebles as a Kwanzaa Liberation Front member. As for its release, ”I’d love to do Hanukkah 2002,” says Kesselman, who wrapped last week. ”That’s my ultimate fantasy.”

– AMERICAN DREAMER If your fantasy is another slice of American Pie, you’ll be delighted to know that Adam Herz, who wrote the first two, is at work on a third. While Chris Weitz, who directed the original with his brother, Paul (the pair also just directed About a Boy), will only produce the Pie sequel, Chris does have some thoughts on how to spin the story forward. ”I want American Pie to be two words: all gay. Now, there’s a plot twist. I might even direct that one.”

– FURTHERMORE Rosanna Arquette, whose directorial debut, the documentary Searching for Debra Winger, recently premiered at Cannes, is preparing to join the cast of Joe Buck, directed by Gary Oldman. But the actress is already plotting out her next behind-the-camera gig, a documentary about musicians. ”The theme is the muse,” says Arquette, who hopes to begin filming in the fall. ”I’ve already spoken with Joni Mitchell, Chrissie Hynde, Sting, and Peter Gabriel. They’re all friends of mine.” (Additional reporting by Cindy Pearlman)