When does a major star sink and rise at the same time? When he's Harrison Ford, who will play a Russian submarine captain attempting to save his vessel from a nuclear meltdown in his next film, the undersea thriller K-19. Ford will get $25 million for the role, up from the $20 million he received for his last few films and matching Mel Gibson's payday for The Patriot. More important to Ford, I hear, is that he's thrilled to find a heroic action movie with a strong character before the actors strike threatens to shut down most movie productions next June. The film will start production in February.
Mariah Carey was lined up to sing the theme song for Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas starring Jim Carrey. But it never happened. Although her rep says Carey didn't have the time, I hear that the songbird's ex-husband, Sony Music chief Tommy Mottola, wouldn't let her out of her contract to work for rival MCA/Universal even though Carey cowrote the song, "Where Are You, Christmas?" Faith Hill has since recorded the number.
'N Sync was in the recording studio recently but not to cut a new album. The hot-selling boy band was on the FOX lot in L.A. a few weeks ago to play themselves in an episode of The Simpsons entitled "New Kids on the Blecch." The show, which will air early next year, revolves around Bart getting recruited to join a boy band. And who should drop by but Tom Hanks, on the lot finishing his work on Cast Away, due at Christmas. Although more than 200 stars, like Johnny Carson and Mel Gibson, have appeared on the long-running show as themselves, IIanks isn't among them. Maybe he was angling for an invite?
Get Carter is a remake of the 1971 movie of the same name that starred Michael Caine. Maybe Sylvester Stallone, who stars in the updated version, should have called the new version Get Caine because he felt so strongly about having the English actor, who plays his adversary, appear in the remake. "It's a stamp of approval," Stallone told me at the film's L.A. premiere. "If someone's remaking Rocky and I'm not in it, there's a good chance I wouldn't approve of it."
Melissa Joan Hart's boyfriend, actor Bryan Kirkwood (One World), will guest-star as her boyfriend—a male witch—on her WB series, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, this season....
Britney Spears recently returned to her hometown of Kentwood, La., to tape a FOX holiday special, There's No Place Like Home.