Streep warms up for ‘Mamma’

MERYL STREEP AND her new sidekick, Christine Baranski, are in London to pre-record their musical numbers for the coming movie of “Mamma Mia!” They’ll be singing along with Britain’s Julie Walters, Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan. Streep and Baranski will then come back to the U.S. for a month off. “Actually,” Christine says, “I’ll be killing myself with dance classes.” Then back to London for 10 weeks of filming and on to another five weeks on some exotic Greek island. … After finishing “Mamma Mia!” Baranski will appear as the Queen of the Nile in Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra” at the Theater for a New Audience in Brooklyn. … HarperCollins will bring out Clive Barker’s latest fraught thriller novel “Mr. B. Gone” and just to make things better, they’ll publish it on Halloween. This short work tells of the discovery of a demonic “memoir” penned in the year 1438. It consists of one copy only that has been buried by an assistant who worked for Johannes Gutenberg of printing press fame.

DITA VON TEESE, the gorgeous burlesque performer now split from hubby Marilyn Manson, will perform at AmFAR’s annual AIDS event in Cannes on May 23. She’ll join Sharon Stone at the MAC cosmetics, Harvey Weinstein, Bold Films sponsored charity gala. Dita insists that, until recently, she had a recognizably normal relationship with Marilyn. … Julia Roberts next movie – “The Friday Night Knitting Club” – is being adapted for the screen by Mike Binder from the Kate Jacobs’ novel. Producers will be Roberts and Christine Peters … Toiling away in Shreveport, La., for the next two months on “Mad Money” are Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, Ted Danson and Katie Holmes … Invites are going out for Cecile Richards’ first anniversary at the helm of the revitalized Planned Parenthood. Party is June 7.

I AM having a merrie olde tyme with “The Tudors,” Showtime’s new miniseries about Henry VIII. The offbeat casting of Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the strapping redheaded Henry is a fascinating success. All the younger actors seemed to have stepped out of the pages of Vogue or Abercrombie and Fitch. Eye candy in 16th century getups, although corsets and doublets are unlaced often. I especially enjoy Sam Neill as the wickedly ambitious Cardinal Wolsey. And Maria Doyle Kennedy as Henry’s unhappy Queen Katherine is a study in poignant dignity. Anne Boleyn — played by luscious Natalie Dormer — goes into her family-sanctioned seduction of the king in the next episodes.

(E-mail Liz Smith at

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