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Cindy Pearlman

Clooney suits up for a period football comedy a la Hawks

January 27, 2003


G eorge Clooney is about to score--and we're not talking about his love life. "I'm trying to get a period football film together," Clooney tells this column. "It's set in 1925 and it revolves around the sport, but it's more of a Howard Hawks comedy."

Clooney also will star with red-hot "Chicago" actress Catherine Zeta-Jones in "Intolerable Cruelty" due out this fall and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. "It's a big old slapstick comedy. It's very loud," he previews. "I'm a divorce attorney, and she's a woman who marries men for money. It's all about the pre-nup."

He adds, "I'm a guy who makes the perfect pre-nup. She's a fellow lawyer who I beat in court, but later she sucks me into marrying her. I tear up my own pre-nup and she f---- me out of everything."

Everything is good these days for Clooney, who made his directorial debut in the weekend's "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind."

Question: Was it tough for Clooney to get pals Brad Pitt and Matt Damon to make cameos as "Dating Game" losers? "We were all doing press for 'Ocean's 11,' and I told them I was doing this movie," Clooney says. "How could they say no?" Star Sam Rockwell also didn't say "no" to an opening scene where he's buck naked.

Says Clooney: "I was being so careful and demanded the set be cleared. Before anyone could leave, Sam just shows up, drops his robe and he's standing there naked."

CHICAGO MOVES: Renee Zellweger says that originally "Chicago" wasn't her kind of movie. "The dancing was horrible!" she cries. "You put the high heels on and suddenly you're in the NBA of movies! You have to think about your dance moves and your singing. You have to remember where to put your foot and hands. On 'Moulin Rouge,' they had a couple of weeks for each number. We had a day. One day! It looked like it was going to be Renee at the high school talent show." She says her showstopping dance scene with the mirrors was the toughest. "I walked into a roomful of mirrors on stands with little black tarps over them. It was potentially the cheesiest thing you've seen in your life." And technically? "I couldn't tell where the floor stopped and the air began because we did some of this in a dark room with a shiny black floor. You should have seen me bobbing in heels for the first couple of hours of dancing in darkness." She sums it up: "It was like, 'Turn, turn, don't forget to turn to the left, head to the right, hand there, turn, in the mirror, other dancer over there. Yes! Keep going! Keep going! Turn again, spin, put a foot there, turn, five, say a word, turn your head. Is the other dancer there? Yes, he's there?'" When she finally got it, Zellweger reports, "I was jumping up and down like a kid in third grade." Now these moves might earn her an Oscar nomination on Feb. 11.

"Awards aren't what motivate me," she insists. "I just try to love my days."

JERRY'S KIDDING: JERRY O'CONNELL insists that the scariest part of filming "Kangaroo Jack" wasn't necessarily the big furry animal with a pouch.

"I worked with Christopher Walken and he was really frightening at first. Then, I realized the guy knows his lines, he's a joy ... but he's still sort of creepy." As for his other co-star, comic Anthony Anderson, O'Connell reports, "Anthony is definitely the most fun I've ever had shooting a movie. He helped me deal with roughing it, too. Frankly, I'm used to a Hollywood lifestyle where you have a commissary. We were in the Outback and didn't have trailers. ...One day, a huge chicken came running up to me. Well, not a chicken. Maybe an ostrich or an emu. I don't know. It's a huge bird and I was scared out of my mind."

Meanwhile, O'Connell returns to his cushy job on TV's "Crossing Jordan." "They're spinning my character off next season for his own show. So I'm really excited."

FEEL THE CHILL: They don't call it "Cold Mountain" for nothing. Actor Charlie Hunnan says that it was so chilly filming in Romania that--well, he couldn't even cry. "It was minus 28 degrees and I had my contact lenses in. The solution in my eyes froze, which was scary," he says.

"I had to eventually take my contacts out and thaw the lenses out. In another scene, we had to cut and it wasn't because of the actors. The film in the camera had frozen. It was just bizarre." Hunnan, who co-stars in the much-anticipated Civil War drama with Nicole Kidman and Zellweger, says the cameras got the best treatment. "They had to put heat packs on the camera. So Renee, Nicole and I started putting them on our backs between scenes. We didn't realize that you're not supposed to put them directly on your skin. I was the worst and wound up with a lot of blisters."

Big Picture News Inc.


Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Monday at North American theaters:

1. Darkness Falls$12.5 mill.

2. Kangaroo Jack 11.9 mill.

3. Chicago 8.5 mill.

4. Just Married 7.5 mill.

5. National Security 7.4 mill.

6. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 6.9 mill.

7. Catch Me If You Can 6.6 mill.

8. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind 6 mill.

9. About Schmidt 5.5 mill.

10. The Hours 4 mill.


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