Duo kick around TV ideas

Business masterminds team for soccer show

SOCCER HAS long been an international sensation although it has never reached the top rung of interest in the U.S. And the grand Harrods department store in London is also an international success although in this country it has more good reputation than actual status. Now — Mohammed Al Fayed, Harrod’s owner, and America’s TV titan George Schlatter will collaborate with Hollywood producer Conroy Kanter and Soccerex (the NBA of the soccer sports universe) to dream up a reality series about a bunch of hunky guys in shorts kicking a ball, and each other, hither and yon. The idea has come into being because of all the publicity surrounding David Beckham’s huge deal to come play soccer in America. No matter that he injured himself right off and that his whippet-thin wife, Victoria (Posh Spice) Beckham seems overly anxious for stateside stardom. She is already a champion Hollywood Wife Shopper. Some people feel the last thing we need is another reality series, but soccer players are — as Paris would say – hot. So go for it, guys.

THE SIZZLING producer Brian Grazer is keeping mum as to whether or not he and his wife Gigi’s divorce is now final and their prenup has kicked in after 16 years. She seems to think they have reconciled and are back together. Others say that a certain Eurasian woman is still in the picture. Well, this guy has four kids with Gigi so there’s a lot for him to think about. He may not want to rock the boat and Gigi definitely believes in staying friendly. Brian is off now to do “The Da Vinci Code” sequel in Europe. A sequel? Wonders never cease… SHORT SHOTS: Spike Lee is a happy guy and not because he is in those ready-made-ingredient food commercials where the delivery guy mistakes him for a Chinese cook. Spike and Paramount have nabbed Wesley Snipes to play the movie role of the late great James Brown. … ON Sunday, the Transport Group’s fourth annual “Evening With” series — at New York’s Soho Playhouse — features a conversation with Broadway’s tallest drink of water — dancer, singer, actor, choreographer, director, producer — Tommy Tune. The nine-time Tony winner will talk about the career that began in Wichita Falls, Texas, and marched onto the Great White Way with “Nine,” “Grand Hotel,” “The Will Rogers Follies,” “A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine” and “My One and Only.” … And I wonder when MGM is going to get on the ball and put Ken Russell’s 1971 movie “The Boy Friend” on DVD? The 1954 Broadway version with Julie Andrews was all sugar. Onscreen, with Twiggy, Tommy and Glenda Jackson, director Russell turned Sandy Wilson’s airy musical into something wickedly twisted. Underappreciated in its day, “The Boy Friend” deserves another look.

“THERE I was sitting at my desk the other day. The phone rang and an acquaintance announced with breathless stop-the-presses urgency, “Nicole is in rehab again.” I am stunned. “What?” “What? When did she first go in? Has life with Keith Urban brought her to this?” Long silence on the other end, and then: “Ummm … I mean Nicole Richie.” Vast relief. My friend Nicole Kidman, the great movie star and Oscar winner was not in any kind of rehab. No juggling personal feelings and professional ethics on a story I would hate to print. Yes, I felt bad that as soon as the proper Nicole had been identified, I just didn’t care much. Who knows what she does for a living, except co-star with Paris Hilton on “A Simple Life” — when she is not feuding with the about-to-be-jailed heiress. Anyway, the source said the perilously wispy Miss Richie is ensconced at Beaumonde, a small outpatient facility near Los Angeles. We all wish the daughter of singing legend Lionel Richie well. (Her reps deny it all, despite Star magazine insisting they have photos.) As for Miss Kidman, she’s in Australia shooting a movie with Hugh Jackman, who is a darling guy. Keith Urban is with her. Nicole is unbelievably patient with the men in her life. (Why, she is even good friends with Russell Crowe.)

P.S. Love, love, love Paris carrying around a Bible, cradled in the crook of her arm, camera-ready. She must realize nobody is going to take the idea of her spiritual life seriously. So it’s a goof, a rare touch of Hilton irony. Maybe there’s hope for Paris.

ANGELINA JOLIE and Brad Pitt looked like the royal movie couple they are, walking the red carpet in Cannes, at the premiere of their new film, “A Mighty Heart.” (This is based on the true-life tale of murdered reporter Daniel Pearl and his wife, Mariane’s, ordeal. Jolie plays Mariane; Brad is one of the producers.) On-the-spot sightings in the South of France had the pair cozy, obviously in love. But public displays of affection don’t hold any water with the weekly gossip glossies. If there is even one photo of the pair looking distracted or not smiling, it will be spun into the beginning of the end. But it’s been “the beginning of the end” since the day they officially began to cohabitate — after the Angelina, Wicked Spider Woman stories wound down. You know, poor Jennifer Aniston, left with only her “Friends” millions, her Brad memories and fun-loving Vince Vaughn. The ongoing press battering of Brad and Angelina reminds me of the marriage of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. From the moment they wed, the tabs never let up. And when, after 11 years and three children, they did split, the press reaction was. “See, didn’t we tell you?” As if 11 years hadn’t been a good long run, especially in the hothouse showbiz climate. But I think Brad and Angie pay even less attention to what is written about them than Bruce and Demi did. (NBC’s Ann Curry, interviewing Jolie for “Dateline” didn’t seem to grasp the star’s disinterest in what we say about her.) This disinterest is wise, because movie stars are just like us — even when they know what’s true, the power of the printed word has an effect.

(Email Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com)

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