After months of Brangelina tabloid madness, Brad Pitt is determined to give some attention to a far more important topic: rebuilding New Orleans in an eco-friendly way. "We could possibly build something that was better and took into account the historical traditions of the city and the voices of the people, and turn this into some kind of good," Pitt told The Associated Press recently while discussing his new architecture design competition. Pitt announced Thursday that he's joining forces with Global Green USA, an environmental group overseeing green standards for 10,000 buildings in New Orleans. "This competition captures some of our best qualities as a society, our ingenuity and our goodwill, and no idea is too small," Pitt said. The "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" star will sponsor the competition and lead its jury, with finalists being selected shortly before the one-year anniversary of the disaster in August. ...

Ever wanted to get a cooking lesson from Chevy Chase or go kayaking with Christie Brinkley? Even if you aren't interested in living out your own "National Lampoon's Vacation" fantasy, you might want to place a bid for the third annual Chevy Chase Earth Day Auction, now online at CharityBuzz.com. Items also include Dave Matthews VIP concert tickets, lunch with Bob Newhart and a backstage tour of "Saturday Night Live." Proceeds will help the Center for Environmental Education encourage schools and students to embrace healthier lunch alternatives. ...

04.20.2006

They've appeared in more than a half-dozen movies together, and now old friends Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson have reunited for "Night at the Museum," the currently filming comedy about the adventures of a clueless security team dealing with cursed displays that come to life. "I'm just gonna go for the shock and awe of all the famous names that I could throw at you," laughed director Shawn Levy recently. "We've got Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Ricky Gervais, Paul Rudd, Steve Coogan and Owen Wilson." Stiller added that his "Starsky & Hutch" co-star will be playing one of the tiny displays. "Owen Wilson is gonna be portraying a little 3-inch cowboy," Stiller said. ...

Holy geek power, Batman! The Internet has given birth to the phenomenon of movie studios staffing their flicks based on suggestions from Web-surfing wannabe casting directors, seen recently with Michael Chiklis' "Fantastic Four" role. Now it may happen again after months of support for an actor fans have deemed perfect for a role in the upcoming "Batman Begins" sequel. "I had heard that, when I was doing press on 'Glory Road,' " Josh Lucas said of rumors he would play District Attorney Harvey Dent (and eventual villain Two-Face) in the superhero sequel. "Some of the people started asking about that, and [back] then I didn't know anything about it. I went and talked to Warner Bros. about it, because they're making it, and obviously I would love to do it. I think it's a great character. I like that someone could go from being bad to good and back and forth and light and dark, but also I think [series director Christopher Nolan] did an amazing job. And Christian Bale did an amazing job too. Christian and I did 'American Psycho' together, so it'd be like a reunion of sorts." ...

Robert Rodriguez's half of "Grind House," his collaborative reunion with "Sin City" chum Quentin Tarantino, may have slowed down production, but the "Pulp Fiction" director is moving forward with his part of the double-feature gorefest. "I actually just met with Quentin Tarantino about [a role in his segment]. ... It's in talks now," said "Find Me Guilty" actress Cassandra Hepburn, who would be one of the first actors cast in the production. Acknowledging that the film will be as exploitative as it is bloody, she said, "At least I wouldn't die in the film. My character wouldn't. That's a good thing. ... When I met with him, he was just this really down-to-earth, really nice, simple man who loves to make films, just like me." For now, Hepburn will be sitting by the phone and keeping her summer open: "I was told it starts shooting mid-June," she said. ...

If you've seen the scraggly, freshly grown beard Michael Douglas is sporting and wondered what the story was, the answer is simple: It's helping him get inside the mind of a lunatic. "It helps. It sort of changes your behavior," he said of his new ZZ Top look, inspired by his currently filming flick, "King of California." "All this stuff you wouldn't normally be doing if you didn't have a beard. I think it helps define — particularly with an actor like myself who's been an actor for 30 years — you just get used to a certain image, and it helps dissolve that image." The dark comedy, co-starring "Thirteen" actress Evan Rachel Wood as Douglas' daughter, tells the story of a man convinced that a forgotten Spanish treasure is buried beneath his local Costco. "It's a lovely, poignant story about a small-time jazz musician having trouble with substance abuse most of his life, and he finally has a bit of a breakdown. ... [Wood's character] gets convinced, and together they pursue looking for this treasure." ...

The date of the 79th annual Academy Awards ceremony has been announced, and the show has once again been pushed up to February. Losing about a week of campaigning, next year's awards will be held on February 25, 2007, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. ...

Eli Roth made a name for himself in the hierarchy of gore with "Hostel," and Stephen King is certainly no slouch in that department. So what can we expect now that the two of them are joining forces? "So many of my favorite directors — Stanley Kubrick, Brian De Palma, George Romero — have adapted Stephen King books. It's always been my dream to do it," Roth said recently of "Cell," the mobile-phone zombie flick adapted from the current King bestseller. "One of the things zombie movies have never done is, you never see the moment when the plague hits. You never see it hitting all over the world. ... I want to see Japan, Rio, Iceland, London, New York — I want people going nuts. Everyone on a cell phone gets zapped and starts killing everyone around them. There are people ripping each other's throats out, jumping out of buildings, crashing cars into each other. I want to watch the world completely fall apart." Grinning excitedly, he added that King has given his full blessing to the project. "One of the things I said was, 'Am I going to be allowed to change things around?' because I feel like the book is the book, but when you're making a movie, you should do what's best for the movie and not be afraid to change things. ... [King] said, 'Whatever he wants to do. This is Eli's version of "Cell." Go nuts.' Once I heard that, it gave me the freedom to go off the hook." ...

An Internet brouhaha is already brewing over the upcoming drama "The Martian Child," adapted from a novel by a gay author dramatizing his difficulty when adopting a child. With John Cusack cast as the father, the film has the character re-imagined as a recent widower, adopting the troubled child who claims to be an alien. His sister Joan Cusack, who also stars in the film, said that outraged fans of author David Gerrold should reserve their judgment until they have a chance to see the finished project. "No, he's not gay," Joan said of her brother. "But I don't think that makes that much of a difference." The flick, which co-stars Amanda Peet and Oliver Platt, doesn't have a release date. ...

Two stars from the record-breaking spoof "Scary Movie 4" have joined forces again, this time for a decidedly different project. "It was a coincidence," Regina Hall said of the casting for the upcoming straight-faced thriller "Danika." Says her two-time co-star Craig Bierko: "It was the very next movie, and we ended up working together." The film stars Oscar winner Marisa Tomei as a mother plagued by horrifying premonitions of her children. Bierko is Tomei's husband, while Hall recently wrapped her role as a psychiatrist. "It's a dark psychological thriller," Bierko said. "[Tomei] plays someone you don't know whether she's crazy or hallucinating or insane." "And [Bierko] has the fortune to be married to her," Hall added. The film is expected in theaters later this year.

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