Malick toes ‘Line’ remake

GOOD MORNING: It’s almost 20 years since Terrence Malick made a movie — the last was “Days of Heaven,” for which he won best director at Cannes in 1978. But next week, as has been reported, he starts filming his long-planned remake of “The Thin Red Line” in Australia. And writer-director Malick teams with longtime pal from his days in the first class at AFI: George Stevens Jr., who is exec producer of the film. Robert Geisler, John Roberdeau and Grant Hill are producers of the Phoenix pic, to be released by 20th. James Jones’ WWII Guadalcanal story was originally feature-filmed in 1964 for Allied Artists, with Andrew Marton directing a cast headed by Keir Dullea and Jack Warden. Sean Penn now plays the Warden role, with Ben Chaplin in the part played by Dullea. But their death scene is changed for the current film version, which also stars Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson, John Cusack, Bill Pullman, John Travolta, George Clooney, Gary Oldman, Adrien Brody and Jim Caviezel. Most of the movie will be filmed in Port Douglas, Australia — but some scenes will be shot on Guadalcanal. … Betty Buckley says she always dreamed of being a champion rodeo barrel racer when she was growing up in Ft. Worth. She won several trophies, but her top prize with horses, she says, is now working in “The Horse Whisperer” for director -producer-star Robert Redford. She plays his former girlfriend who organizes the horse clinic for him. Kristin Scott Thomas is the romantic lead opposite Redford. Buckley describes him as “so lovely, sweet, with a great sense of humor, laughs at himself — and he’s gorgeous!” He had firmed Buckley for his “Horse” after viewing her in “Tender Mercies” and a tape she made recounting anecdotes about herself and horses! Any singing for Buckley in the pic? “I volunteered to sing in a barn dance scene. I can do country-western,” she said. On the music front, she’s completed a CD for Sterling with “sultry” tunes including “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Cry Me a River,” “The Man That Got Away,” “Laura,” “Autumn Leaves,” She’ll also concert in Ann Arbor June 25, SanFran July 18, and is talking another feature, “Of Love and Fantasies” before her four-month run in the “Triumph of Love” B’way musical, which bows Oct. 16. The busy Buckley has now signed with Pam Wagner at APA, while Columbia Artists continues her concert bookings.

THE LATEST VINTAGE VIDSERIES to go the feature route is “I Dream of Jeannie.” The sitcom, originated and produced by Sidney Sheldon for Screen Gems, will be bigscreened by Sheldon and producer Sid Ganis at Columbia. The series, which starred Barbara Eden, Larry Hagman and Bill Daily, was an NBC hit from 1965 to 1970 and even became an animated CBS animated series. Sheldon was honored as “the world’s most translated author” Wednesday night at London’s Dorchester Hotel by the Guinness Book of World Records as he was entered into Guinness’ 1997 edition. Also at the bash, HarperCollins’ Eddie Bell toasted Sheldon on the sale of his 275 millionth book copy. His next for ’em (and Morrow, U.S.), “Best Laid Plans,” is the last on his longtime contract with the publishers. He hasn’t decided where he’ll take his next book, “Tell Me Your Dreams,” which he’s already started. … Pope John Paul II autographed a copy of the script of Krzysztof Zanussi’s “Our God’s Brother,” for Scott Wilson; the actor was at the Krakow preem of the pic that’s based on the play written by the Pope when he was a young thesp named Karol Wojtyla. Wilson met in a private audience with the Pope, who praised the pic and Wilson’s performance as Brother Albert, an aristocrat in the mid 1800s who gave up his worldly goods to serve the poor — and eventually was canonized by Pope John Paul. “Our God’s Brother” bows domestically this Fall.

SECOND GENERATION: John Clark Gable and Tyrone Power Jr. co-star in director-writer Clyde Ware’s western “Partners.” Texas oilionaire David Millican finances. Gable previously starred in Ware’s “Bad Jim, ” which also starred Jim Brolin. … Twenty-five years ago, the teenage John Rubin — son of “Bracken’s World” producer Stanley Rubin and thesp Kathleen Hughes — used to visit the set of that TV series, which starred Leslie Nielsen. Fade into 1997 and John R. is producer/screenwriter of the “Savage Garden” National Geographic Explorer show airing June 27 — with Leslie Nielsen starring. John Rubin also directed Nielsen’s narration for the “Savage” TBS special. … Bill Kalmenson, grandson of 1970’s WB president, Ben K., is writer/director of the indie feature, “The Souler Opposite,” which screens for exhibs next week. … Producer Lawrence Bender plays the role of a head-hunting recruiter in “Good Will Hunting” — one of three pix Bender is producing for Miramax. Gus Van Sant directs him in this one. The other two Bender pix are “A Price Below Rubies” directed by Boaz Yakin (“Fresh’) and “Jackie Brown” directed by Quentin Tarantino. … Composer James Newton Howard and wife Sofie welcomed son Hayden Barron H. June 13 at Cedars-Sinai. Howard’s score is in the current “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”

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