News Article

Off the Radar

What happened to these A-list deals? -- The prognosis for delayed projects such as Oprah’s biography and the Nirvana Live album

Not so long ago, the glitzy projects below seemed to have everything: A-list stars, colossal budgets, and mega expectations. Then...Poof! They vanished into the entertainment equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle. Where are they now? ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY takes a look:

Project: Oprah Winfrey's warts-and-all autobiography, for which she reportedly received $4 million from Knopf.
Status: The tome is now overdue by nearly two years. In Oprah Winfrey: The Real Story, author George Mair alleges that it was Winfrey's significant other, Stedman Graham, who put the kibosh on the bio. Winfrey herself has said she postponed the book because the abuse issues were still painful. Either way, the grande dame of daytime talk is in no hurry to overcome her writer's block. ''Oprah is very busy with other projects,'' says a Winfrey spokeswoman. ''She's not working on the book right now.'' Neither the spokeswoman nor Knopf would say whether Winfrey kept the money.
Prognosis: Fat chance.

Project: The career of George Michael, the stubbly pop singer who became a mirage after losing his nasty lawsuit with Sony (he claimed the label failed to promote his 1990 album, Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1).
Status: Michael is appealing the 1994 decision, but outside the courtroom, he's kept as low a profile as former Wham!- mate Andrew Ridgeley. He refuses to record for Sony, but, according to a publicist, he's ''being courted by other labels'' (reportedly David Geffen's DreamWorks label and Virgin). In the meantime, he continues to work on Trojan Souls — an album of Michael-penned tunes sung by such artists as Elton John and Stevie Wonder.
Prognosis: You gotta have faith.

Project: Nirvana Live, a double album of previously unreleased live tracks, announced after the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994.
Status: Half of the material slated for the record was issued last fall as Nirvana MTV Unplugged in New York. The other half — performances from various concerts — was scrapped temporarily when surviving band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic went into the studio to mix the tracks and couldn't handle the emotional impact, according to Geffen Records' Jim Merlis. ''It might be a long time until they're ready to deal with it,'' adds Merlis. It might be even longer now that Grohl's new band, the Foo Fighters, is touring to support its debut, in stores July 4.
Prognosis: Stay tuned for that grunge revival.

Project: The remake of George Cukor's 1939 high-society classic The Women, starring Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan.
Status: When Ryan and Roberts announced last May that they were joining forces (for a reported $8 million and $12 million, respectively), nearly every woman on Hollywood's top shelf lobbied to get on board. What no one realized was how long it would take them to get their Filofaxes in synch. ''A lot of it is about working with the schedules of two busy actresses,'' says Kathryn Galan, Ryan's partner at Prufrock Pictures. Meanwhile, the New Line movie is still without a director, a supporting cast, or even a script, though Ryan says that Murphy Brown creator Diane English ''is writing it right now.'' Though Galan promises the new script will keep the original's ''high tone of wit, bitchiness, and glamour,'' Ryan says that the film will have a contemporary flavor. ''It won't be a re-creation,'' she says. ''I mean, how can you have a divorce farm in the '90s? Maybe it should be a rehab center?'' Mike De Luca, president of New Line productions, says the studio hopes to begin shooting by the end of 1996 for a '97 release.
Prognosis: Hurry, before the cast is old enough to do Fried Green Tomatoes 2.

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