NEWS ROUNDUP

Robert Goulet Dies at Age 73

Plus: Robin Wright Penn, Julianne Moore, and Winona Ryder in ''Pippa''; Alannis Morissette tapped for ''Radio Free Albemuth''; NBC president confirms Conan as Leno's replacement in 2009; and more...

Robert Goulet | ROBERT GOULET
Image credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
ROBERT GOULET

Robert Goulet dies at age 73
Legendary crooner Robert Goulet died Tuesday morning while awaiting a lung transplant in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 73 and had been diagnosed with interstitial pulmonary fibrosis in September. The singer was perhaps best known for appearing as Lancelot in the original Broadway production of Camelot, as well as for his countless cameos in movies ranging from Atlantic City to Beetlejuice to The Naked Gun 2 1/2. After breaking out with his appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, Goulet won the Best New Artist Grammy in 1963, and he took home a Tony Award for The Happy Time in 1968. Younger generations know him as the subject of a Will Ferrell spoof on Saturday Night Live. ''You have to have humor and be able to laugh at yourself,'' he once said. (AP via Yahoo!)

Trio cast in adaptation of Miller novel
Robin Wright Penn, Julianne Moore, and Winona Ryder will star in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Elevation Filmworks and Plan B Entertainment's movie adaptation of Rebecca Miller's novel. Wright Penn will play the title character in the film, which goes through Pippa's past and present as a methamphetamine-addicted mother whose husband leaves her for a younger woman. The newly single character experiences a number of erotic adventures while heading toward a quiet nervous breakdown. Miller is also directing. She previously directed The Ballad of Jack and Rose, also produced by Elevation. Shooting on Pippa is scheduled to start in April. Wright Penn recently signed on to join Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Jason Batemen in Universal's movie adaptation of the British miniseries State of Play. She will next be seen in Beowulf and the Barry Levinson-directed comedy What Just Happened?. (Hollywood Reporter)

Morissette tapped for Radio Free
Alannis Morissette has joined the cast of Radio Free Albemuth, a movie adaptation of novelist Philip K. Dick's semiautobiographical 1976 novel (published posthumously in 1985). Morissette plays Sylvia, a woman who appears in the vision of a record label executive (Jonathan Scarfe) as a glamorous singer — she's really just a woman in unexpected remission from lymphoma. But after appearing in the visions, she gets a job as the executive's secretary and becomes his soul mate. John Alan Simon is directing from his own script. Shea Whigham (Wristcutters: A Love Story), Katheryn Winnick (Failure to Launch), and Hanna Hall (2007's Halloween) also star. Radio Free began shooting earlier this month. (Hollywood Reporter)

NBC president confirms Leno departure in 2009
NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker confirmed on Monday (Oct. 29) that Jay Leno is leaving The Tonight Show in 2009 and would be replaced by Conan O'Brien. Zucker said the company is in talks with Leno about how to keep him within the NBC Universal family, but did not disclose details. A deal for Leno's exit was finalized three years ago as part of NBC Universal's effort to keep Late Night host O'Brien from leaving for a competing network, but a Los Angeles Times report earlier this month stated that Leno was reluctant to leave the show he's hosted for the past 15 years. Leno did not comment on the L.A. Times report and as of Monday he's declined comment on Zucker's latest statements as well. (AP via Yahoo!)

Penn, Ledger in talks for Tree of Life
Heath Ledger and Sean Penn are in talks to star in writer-director Terrence Malick's long-gestating drama Tree of Life. Ledger would play the lead role, opposite a yet-to-be-cast female lead, and Penn would take a supporting role. Malick is also still negotiating a deal. Colin Farrell was in talks to star in the feature two years ago, but he is no longer part of the project. The plot is being kept under wraps. River Road Entertainment (Brokeback Mountain) is producing. (Hollywood Reporter)

Rhames playing Sonny Liston in biopic
Ving Rhames has been cast as heavyweight boxer Sonny Liston in the Robert Townsend-directed biopic Phantom Punch. The movie will chronicle Liston's rise as a boxer and the alleged ''phantom punch'' that knocked him down in a match with Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay). Many believe the resulting scandal led to the demise of his career. Rhames recently joined Jeremy Piven in Neal Brennan's The Goods: The Don Ready Story for Paramount Vantage and will be seen next in The Tournament and The Gift. Writer/director/producer/actor Townsend will be seen next in the drama Of Boys and Men and the comedy Tao of the Golden Mask. His past directorial efforts include Black Listed and The Meteor Man, in which he also starred. (Hollywood Reporter)

Fox doing U.S. version of Spaced
Fox has ordered a pilot for a U.S. version of the U.K. comedy series Spaced, originally created by the Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz team Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (as well as Jessica Stevenson). Adam Barr (Will & Grace) is adapting the show for the U.S. The story follows a young man and woman (played by Pegg and Stevenson in the U.K. version) who pose as a couple in order to rent a cheap apartment. They're surrounded by colorful neighbors and eventually begin a flirtation. The British version is known for its use of pop culture references. It has been nominated for a BAFTA and an Intl. Emmy Award, among others. Wonderland Sound's McG and Granada's Robert Green will executive produce alongside Barr; the extent of Pegg's and Wright's involvement is not yet known. (Variety)

Daniels directing Kravitz in Push
Lee Daniels (Shadowboxer) has been tapped to direct Push, an indie movie adaptation of Sapphire's (Romona Lofton) novel, starring Lenny Kravitz (his feature starring debut), Mo'nique, Paula Patton (Idlewild), and newcomer Gabourey ''Gabbie'' Sidibe. The story is about an overweight, illiterate African-American teenaged girl in Harlem known as Precious (Sidibe). Just before giving birth to her second child, she is accepted into an alternative school where a teacher (Patton) helps her find an alternative path in her life. Sidibe won the role of Precious after 300 young girls auditioned in casting calls around the country. Mo'nique plays Precious' mother and Kravitz plays a nurse. Production is underway. (Variety)

Jason Statham returning for Crank 2
Jason Statham is reprising his role as hitman Chev Chelios in Crank 2: High Voltage for Lionsgate and Lakeshore Entertainment. The first movie's writer/director team Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are returning for the sequel, which will see Chelios facing a Chinese mobster who has stolen his nearly indestructible heart and replaced it with a battery-powered unit that requires regular jolts of electricity to keep working. (Variety)

Coolio doing Oxygen reality series
Oxygen is doing a reality series that will follow hip-hop artist Coolio as he balances his life as an unconventional single father of six teenagers with his rap career and launching of his own clothing line. The network has ordered six half-hour episodes of Coolio & the Gang, which set to air in second-quarter 2008. An executive for Oxygen likened Coolio to a real-life version of My Three Sons. (Hollywood Reporter)

MTV launching Arabic channel
MTV has announced that it is launching MTV Arabia, which will feature a 60/40 percent mix of international and Arabic music videos. The channel will first air Nov. 17 for a potential audience of 190 million young people across the Middle East. ''MTV Arabia is only the beginning of our ambitious plans for growth in the Middle East,'' said Bill Roedy, vice chairman of MTV Networks, ''and we're excited to launch further Arabic services, including Nickelodeon next year.'' (Hollywood Reporter)

SAG study shows small gains for minority actors
SAG's latest diversity study shows non-white performers made incremental gains during the past two years, mostly in supporting roles. Roles rose by 14.5 percent in theatrical features and by 20.2 percent in the newly added category of low-budget films. Roles in episodic TV grew by 13 percent. However, data in traditional categories all showed a drop in the average work days per role since 2005. ) ''[W]e cannot be content with the current levels of representation in each category, as they do not reflect the current demographics of our country,'' SAG president Alan Rosenberg said. (Hollywood Reporter)

French president storms out of 60 Minutes interview
France's new president Nicolas Sarkozy ended a 60 Minutes interview, conducted in Paris, aimed at introducing him to U.S. audiences, calling it ''stupid'' and a ''big mistake'' and refusing to answer questions about his wife. ''I don't have the time. I have a big job to do, I have a schedule,'' Sarkozy said through a translator before the interview even began. In English, he added: ''Very busy. Very busy.'' The interview aired Sunday (Oct. 28). (Hollywood Reporter)

CELEBRITY NEWS

Page Six: Conservative Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly sent a cameraman and a field producer to Rosie O'Donnell's latest book signing on Long Island to taunt and tape her while she autographed copies for fans. Producer Jesse Watters repeatedly asked O'Donnell why she ignores requests to appear on O'Reilly's show, and O'Donnell replied, ''He knows how to find me. If Bill wants me he should phone me himself. He's a big boy.''

NY Daily News: Kinky photos of a scantily-clad Britney Spears perched on a priest's lap and leaning seductively against a church confessional, appearing in her new CD Blackout, have outraged Catholic leaders.

Rush & Molloy: Sen. Barack Obama reportedly turned down an endorsement offer from Brad Pitt because the Democratic presidential candidate, who already has endorsements from George Clooney and Matt Damon, did not want to appear to be ''too Hollywood.''

Originally posted Oct 30, 2007