When the Irish punk band the Pogues tour North America this fall, there'll be a familiar face behind the microphone: Joe Strummer, former front man for the Clash. The Pogues' managers say the group has ''parted company'' with its toothless lead singer, Shane MacGowan, ''for the immediate future'' because of his ''ill health,'' which could refer to his notorious drinking and drugging habits. But Strummer's certainly no stranger to the Celtic band's wild jigs and rocking reels: He produced their last studio album and stepped in on tour once before when guitarist Philip Chevron had ulcer problems.
Pals since last year's Postcards From the Edge, Meryl Streep and Carrie Fisher have written a script together, tentatively titled The Other Woman, which is being packaged with Streep as the star and Fisher as producer. Set in Hollywood, the plot centers on a married actor and actress and their respective careers. Mike Nichols, who directed Postcards, wants to helm this one, too, but according to sources, his price tag is too high for Universal, which is one of the studios interested in the project (Nichols received $3 million for Regarding Henry). Meanwhile Streep, post-Postcards, wants to sing again, this time as the Witch in the upcoming film version of the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine Tony Award winner Into the Woods.
Reaching a new level in vanity publishing, Italian couture designer Gianni Versace has created and financed a hardcover coffee-table book, Vanitas, to showcase images shot for Versace ad campaigns. The $103 tome includes the work of seven top photographers, including Herb Ritts, Irving Penn, and Bruce Weber, with quotes from Versace's favorite style setters, among them Sting and Kim Basinger. Written in Italian, the book is available only in Versace boutiques and European bookstores, and while the book may eventually be sold in the U.S., there are no plans for a translated edition.
In the old days Warner Bros. specialized in turning out the best biographies of Great Men. Today the biopic is the province of TV and the specialty of Home Box Office, which has won a raft of Emmys for such cable movies as The Josephine Baker Story and Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story. Now HBO is moving on to the Great Bad Men of history: Robert Duvall's stint in Moscow as Stalin begins Oct. 28. James Woods plans to star as New York power lawyer Roy Cohn in Citizen Cohn, to be directed by Frank Pierson (A Star Is Born).
Written by: Jeffrey Ressner, Andrea King, Marla Matzer, Anne Thompson