Mandi Bierly and Gregory Kirschling
October 29, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

MOVIES Hey hip-hop fans, Scarface is good, granted, but the other Brian De Palma Latin gangster drama starring Al Pacino — Carlito’s Way — is their unjustly overshadowed masterpiece. And now Universal will distribute a prequel, Carlito’s Way: The Beginning, with Friday Night Lights‘ Jay Hernandez as young Carlito, the 1960s Puerto Rican heroin dealer and self-proclaimed ”Last of the Mo-ricans.” It’s a tricky role for the Ladder 49 star, and not just because it’s Pacino he’s channeling. ”He’s gotta be the kind of bad guy you root for,” says Hernandez, who saw Carlito’s Way on video with his buds back in high school. ”He will kill you, but you still gotta like him. That’s the complexity.” Hernandez, a Mexican from California, is studying the New York Puerto Rican dialect and meeting ”old Puerto Rican gangsters from back in the day who did a lot of kerr-azy things.” And Sean ”P. Diddy” Combs is in talks to play Hollywood Nicky, ”this ultrarich hustler,” Hernandez says, ”who controlled all of black Harlem.” P. Diddy stretches!

TELEVISION Are the grandfolks in the Academy nuts? They’re letting Chris Rock host the Oscars! How’d that happen? Whatever — we like it. Can’t wait to see his opening medley based on the Best Picture nominees…. Speaking of nutty Academy members, Oscar winner Liza Minnelli is in talks to appear on the season finale of The L Word, which launches its second season Feb. 13. The Showtime series will also have guest shots from Sandra Bernhard and Camryn Manheim.

STAGE Shrek is gonna be a Broadway musical. Makes sense. (Just please, no Smash Mouth ”I’m a Believer” musical numbers.) American Beauty director Sam Mendes is gonna produce it. Jason Moore, who directed Avenue Q, is gonna helm it. But back in March, DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg took a meeting with?uh-oh?Team America dudes Matt Stone and Trey Parker about the job. They didn’t want to do it, though. ”Shrek on Broadway,” Stone told us then, ”is fundamentally a good, possibly lucrative idea. Therefore…” Parker cut in: ”We don’t want to be involved.” Stone: ”We like bad ideas.” Parker: ”It won’t piss anyone off, so what’s the point?” They laughed and laughed. Stone: ”It won’t lose its investors’ money.” And they laughed some more.

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