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Celebrity Chatter: 'Stepford Wives' Keep Going During Blackout

Nicole Kidman Movie Didn't Miss A Beat

POSTED: 9:26 a.m. EDT August 19, 2003

The massive blackout that hit parts of the eastern United States and areas of Canada meant some productions on televisions and movies and theater stage shows screeched to a halt.

Celebrity Chatter Michelle SolomonBut there were a few that managed to forge ahead without a blip thanks to contingency plans in the form of back-up generators.

Fittingly, one of those high-priced productions that didn't skip a beat was "The Stepford Wives" remake now filming in New York, E! online reported.

It tickled my funny bone that a movie about women whose husbands replace them with robots would find a mechanical way to keep going during what's now become known as the Blackout of 2003.

The remake has intrigued me because of its cast and reports that the comic aspects of the 1975 film will be played up in the 2004 version. What was a horror thriller in the '70s is expected to be more quirky this time around. It's easy to imagine the style if you know who is writing the remake. That would be Paul Rudnick, who penned the films "In and Out" and "The Addams Family Values."

Nicole KidmanOscar-winner Nicole Kidman steps into the role made famous by Katherine Ross. She plays Joanna Eberhardt, who moves with her husband, Walter, and their two children to a quaint Connecticut town only to find something strange going on.

Matthew Broderick has replaced John Cusack, who was first cast as Walter Eberhardt. Cusack's sister, Joan, – the pair frequently appears in movies together – was to have played Joanna's best friend, Bobbie Markowitz, but both Cusacks dropped out of the production last May. Now Bette Midler has stepped into that role, giving the dark comedy even more of a twisted appeal. (Remember Midler in "Ruthless People," "Drowning Mona?" It'll be much the same.)

Kidman was looking forward to the role before production started in June. She was quoted as saying:

"It's going to be done as a comedy. And I've wanted to do a comedy. ... I'm in the middle of Cold Mountain now, which is sort of an epic, tragic love story. I just went, 'I've got to do a comedy.' I need to have some lightness."

Meanwhile, the mansion in Connecticut where the first "Stepford Wives" was filmed is gearing up for the remake to visit.

The Norwalk Lockwood-Mathews mansion, which has about 30,000 visitors each year, closed Monday to get ready to greet its movie-star guests. The mansion's Web site trumpets that stars Kidman and Broderick will be visiting the mansion.

In the film, the mansion serves as the setting for The Stepford Men's Association, where the men gather to discuss their plot to turn their wives into perfect, well-oiled machines.

"The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion, which will serve as the site of our Men's Association, has a gothic, almost fortress like quality that we think will provide a great visual contrast in the otherwise bucolic town of Stepford," Marsha Robertson, a spokeswoman for the Paramount Pictures movie, told the Associated Press. "The Stepford Men's Association is a very mysterious place to those arriving in town."

Meanwhile, the museum's executive director says the movie comes at a critical time for the museum and that money which Paramount Pictures will put into sprucing up the Lockwood-Mathews comes at the perfect time.

"We're thrilled," said Marjorie St. Aubyn, the museum's executive director, who estimated the value of the work at more than $200,000. "With everyone cutting back, it's terrible for a museum like us," St. Aubyn told the Associated Press.

Paramount Pictures is expected to replace old carpeting with new, plus paint and restore the woodwork and glass of the mansion's rotunda to its former glory.

The mansion will be ready for filming when shooting begins there Sept. 23, according to AP.

Keep up with updates about filming at the Lockwood-Mathews on its Web site.

The movie is expected to be released in June 2004.

Stories Of Splitsville

Reports of Hollywood couple Salma Hayek and Ed Norton's split have been circulating since the end of July when 11-year-old Daryl Sabara spilled the beans to Matt Lauer on the "Today Show" while promoting his new movie "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over," in which Hayek co-stars.

Sabara was telling Lauer that he had bulked up from weightlifting for the movie and reportedly said, "I was showing off to her, you know? She isn't with Ed Norton anymore."

Meanwhile, reports run rampant that Hayek has moved on from Norton.

The Aug. 15 edition of The Chicago Sun-Times reported Hayek and actor Josh Lucas of "Sweet Home Alabama" fame are moving into high gear and Norton is jealous.

On A Happier Note

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones will christen both of their children at the same time next month.

Douglas Zeta JonesHello Magazine reports that Douglas and Zeta Jones, who both share the same birthday of Sept. 25, will have the ceremony in Wales.

Danny Devito, Meg Ryan, Goldie Hawn, Steven Spielberg will be on the guest list. And no Welsh occasion would be complete without Tom Jones, who is also expected.

Carys Zeta Douglas, who was born April 20, and Dylan Michael, 3, will both be christened during the ceremony.

The magazine reports that 20 rooms have already been booked at an upscale Wales hotel.

Rocker Turned Fashion Designer

Gwen Stefani of No Doubt has always turned heads for her fashion sense. Now regular Janes can get duds designed by the rock star.

Stefani talked about the new line called L.A.M.B., which stands for love, angel, music, baby, at a recent Hollywood party.

The first stop for L.A.M.B. will be a line of LeSportsac bags made of black nylon. The words, love, angel, music, baby cover the bag in white gothic type. The phrase "Where did my lamb go?" also appears on some of the items. The handles of the bag are woven to resemble guitar straps.

The company says on its Web site it chose Stefani because she is "one of today's most dynamic cultural icons."

Prices start at $20 and range up to $158 for a "tour bag" duffel. They'll be available Sept. 1. A line of L.A.M.B. clothing is expected to debut as well.

No doubt Stefani received some bucks for the line, but the amount hasn't been disclosed.

Michelle Solomon's gossip column, Celebrity Chatter, usually appears each Monday. E-mail us with questions or comments. Michelle Solomon@Celebrity Chatter.





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