The "Fantastic Four" heroes have a horrifying new enemy — particularly because she's coming from within their own ranks. "I'm doing a movie called 'The Eye,' " Jessica Alba said recently, standing in her trailer on the Vancouver set of "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer." "I'm learning how to play the violin, and this is what I'm learning." Holding up some sheet music for "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," Alba said she's been subjecting temporary neighbors Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis and Ioan Gruffudd to her squealing violin as she prepares to play a visually impaired musician in the Tom Cruise-produced remake of the Hong Kong thriller. "I suck," she giggled. "But I'm learning slowly but surely. [I also have my] beloved, torturous violin. In between setups, I come in here and practice." Alba is planning to shoot the flick — about a woman whose eye transplant allows her to see dead people — once her Sue Storm duties wind down. ...

Cameron Diaz won't be seen onscreen in 2007, but she will be part of one of next year's biggest movies. If you can't figure out the riddle, here's a clue: The flick's success might make Diaz shriek, or it might even make her Shrek. "I love that people enjoy those films," she said of "Shrek the Third," due in theaters in May. "Certain characters they have down, like Shrek and Fiona, and every time, I think [the filmmakers] really strive to make a good statement — a solid, informed, good statement that's uplifting." The next film's statement will include Shrek inheriting the land of Far, Far Away — but not if he can recruit Donkey (Eddie Murphy), Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) and Fiona (Diaz) to help him stay in his beloved swamp and install ne'er-do-well King Arthur, voiced by Diaz's boyfriend, Justin Timberlake. "It's going to be fun," she promised. "They just do a better job every time." ...

When asked about his next project, Nicolas Cage just has to say "It's 'Next.' " The movie "Next" is based on a Philip K. Dick short story about a man who has the ability to see two minutes into his future. "He keeps seeing this girl, played by Jessica Biel, and he realizes that he can actually see further ahead when she is there," Cage said. But even a man who can see into the future isn't safe. "The powers that be, the FBI, really want this person to help them find out where a nuclear bomb has been placed and they are running out of time, so they're going outside the box to rely on his paranormal abilities," Cage continued. According to the Oscar winner, the whole flick revolves around one compelling, central question: "Do I help save Los Angeles, or do I get to live a normal life with this lady I am falling in love with?" Cage grinned. "If you're looking for a Philip K. Dick mindf---, you will get it!" You have nine months to prepare your mind — the flick hits theaters in September. ...

With no fewer than seven upcoming projects on his slate, in-demand actor Samuel L. Jackson might be screaming "Get these mother----ing movies off my mother----ing schedule!" these days. He recently told us about two of the flicks he's most excited about. " 'Resurrecting the Champ' is a story about a homeless ex-fighter," he said of a recently wrapped movie from Rod Lurie ("The Contender") co-starring Josh Hartnett. "[Hartnett's] reporter thinks [my character is] this ex-boxing champ, and he starts doing a news story about him, and they forge a relationship. This reporter is trying to find the one story that is going to propel him into writing stardom, and [my character] is just a guy that's out there, and he hopes this guy has just been lost in the mix." After that, Jackson will give a rare horror-movie performance in "1408," based on a Stephen King story about a haunted hotel. "It's about an evil hotel room," Jackson grinned, referring to the flick that casts him opposite John Cusack. "I just happen to be the hotel manager who tries to prevent people from checking into that room." Both films are due in theaters during Jackson's increasingly busy 2007. ...

Ahmet Zappa seems to have his finger on the pulse of family entertainment these days, as the actor/ writer/ son of a legendary rocker prepares his screenplay for the upcoming "Fraggle Rock" movie and continues working alongside super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer on the big-screen version of Zappa's hit children's book. "It's called 'The Monstrous Memoirs of the Mighty McFearless,' and it's about a girl named Minerva McFearless who has a very annoying bratty little brother," Zappa said. "They discover that they come from a long line of monsterminators. ... The script is coming in any day, and once the script is approved, we will go into production." The story kicks in when the two McFearless kids learn that their father has been kidnapped and they head off to rescue him. Zappa revealed that Bruckheimer plans to use a mix of makeup and CGI animation to tap into the same magic he used recently on pirate characters like Bootstrap Bill. "It'll be CGI, as far as I know," Zappa said. "What Jerry Bruckheimer did with 'Pirates of the Caribbean' — I'm a fan of the big rubber costumes, latex and making stuff. If I had my way, it would be a combination of both. I'm totally confident in Jerry Bruckheimer and the way he got those creatures to pop onscreen." But what really counts is the story. "My book — and the movie, hopefully — is about being McFearless, conquering your fears, and I think there's nothing more satisfying than being scared a little bit and laughing your butt off." ...

Under-siege filmmaker Mel Gibson did at least one thing to make the world a better place this past week, holding a special screening of his flick "Apocalypto" at the Riverwind Casino in Norman, Oklahoma. Benefiting the Mayan people of Mexico, the Oklahoma chapter of the Lupus Foundation and several local Indian health care facilities, the event featured "Apocalypto" actors Rudy Youngblood and Raoul Trujillo, along with Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby and even a rare appearance by Gibson himself. The flick, which tells the story of the decline of the Mayan empire, is due in theaters this weekend. ...

You've met Van Wilder, and the opportunity is out there to watch his sidekick Taj Mahal Badalandabad rise to the title of party liaison. According to "Van Wilder 2" star Kal Penn, the party doesn't end there. "My interpretation from all this is that it's probably similar to the first couple of 'Vacation' movies that National Lampoon did in the '80s, where the cast mixes up a little bit, but it's the same theme," Penn said of more sequel possibilities. Penn said he expects some of the secondary actors in "The Rise of Taj" to continue the series — either theatrically or on DVD. "I think it'd be a great idea to spin off the British kids, or the two actors who play my parents."

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