Tom Hanks seems to have a thing about playing characters headed for catastrophe. He was a doltish accountant with a suicide complex in the unfortunate Joe Versus the Volcano, then an unlucky bond trader in last year's floppo, The Bonfire of the Vanities. Now, sources say, Hanks wants to play Richard Nixon, though his publicist denies it. Still in development, The Passion of Richard Nixon is based on an original script (not a comedy) by Chris Cleveland that follows Nixon's career up to his election to the Presidency in 1968. Hanks is trying to move away from lighter comedy roles to more serious parts. Nixon will be produced by Disney's Hollywood Pictures, where Hanks has an in-house deal And if Hanks can play Nixon, why not Arnold Schwarzenegger as psychoanalyst Carl Jung? Arnie has been approached about starring in Freud and Jung a high-concept comedy. Then again, Schwarzenegger has been approached about lots of pictures, including an untitled comedy in which he and Sylvester Stallone would play cops in drag. A funny idea, admits Arnold, who says he isn't making any decisions until there's more than ''just a concept.'' If young guns Keith Coogan and Sean Astin, who liberate their prep school from terrorists in the action drama Toy Soldiers, seem to bond on-screen, it might be genetics. In the '60s TV series The Addams Family, Keith's grandfather, the late Jackie Coogan, played Uncle Fester and Sean's pop, John Astin, was the ever-amorous Gomez. ''If he were still alive, I'm sure he would have wanted to play Fester in the (upcoming Addams Family) movie,'' says Coogan, adding, ''Heck, if I was short enough I could play Cousin Itt.''
With ratings for ABC's Twin Peaks dwindling, a show spokesman says cast members are resigned to the likelihood that the June 10 finale will mark Peaks' network farewell. But you may not have seen the last of Agent Cooper. According to series insiders, David Lynch is eager to mount Twin PeaksThe Movie for the big screen. The catch could be finding the time: Lynch's Ronnie Rocket (starring Michael Anderson, Peaks' finger-snapping little man) goes before the cameras this summer, and series cocreator Mark Frost is busy directing Storyville, a mystery with James Spader set in New Orleans.
The worlds of avant-garde jazz and mainstream rock collided recently at New York City's Marquee, where Mike Patton contributed netherworldly screams to the offbeat compositions of saxophonist John Zorn. Patton's voice got so raw that he left the stage several times, which prompted Zorn to point out, ''Mike doesn't do that with his other bands, Mr. Bungle and what's the name of your other band, something like Shame No More?'' Indeed, it looks as if Patton wants to distance himself from his rock-star role in Faith No More. He's currently in New York supervising the completion of Mr. Bungle's debut LP which Zorn is producing for a July release. But all Faith isn't lost yet. The group has a new disk due in September.
Jeffrey Wells, Pat H. Broeske, Melina Gerosa, Mark Harris, Bob Mack