Denzel Washington | Ally Sheedy  

Denzel: Stranger or Candidate?

Even though Paramount announced last week that Oscar-winner Denzel Washington was going to star in a remake of The Manchurian Candidate, the deal may not be all signed and sealed.

Last week, when I spoke to Denzel, he was also considering a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train for Warner Bros.

That project would be directed by Antoine Fuqua, director of Training Day, the movie that finally brought Denzel his Oscar.

Of course, Candidate would be directed by the great Jonathan Demme, Denzel's director in Philadelphia.

What's a star to do?

According to Denzel, who is anticipating the release of his own directorial debut, Antwone Fisher, he was leaning toward being one of the killers on the Train. Candidate did not sound like a strong possibility. He wasn't even sure about it.

Will he wind up in two remakes, each of famous films? You never know. But his superagent, Ed Limato, is one of the few people in Hollywood who makes decisions the way Barry Bonds hits home runs. He even put Mel Gibson in the hit Chicken Run.

Meantime, Antwone Fisher is getting ready for release from Fox Searchlight, a studio related to this column by, I don't know, the marriage of second cousins.

Even if it weren't, I would tell you this is a rock-solid Oscar movie that is bound to surprise a lot of people. You will never forget it.. Denzel has found his voice as a director on his first time out. And the young stars — Derek Luke and Joy Bryant — are the real thing.

Antwone Fisher will be the Good Will Hunting of 2002, and I mean that in the best way. (A couple of years ago, Finding Forrester was GWH in all the worst ways!)

Ally Sheedy's Mom Won't Let Her Publish Book

Actress Ally Sheedy's literary-agent mom won't let her publish a new book she has ready to go.

Ally tells me that her well-known mom, Charlotte, thinks the new book is no good for kids.

"It's called A Dog in Hollywood. It's a satire on Hollywood about a dog who wants to be a movie star. The dog doesn't want to be typecast, and it can actually speak. It wants to break down the barriers.

"Her name is Betty and there's a whole thing where she comes out and it's like her doing 'Singing in the Rain.' You don't know it's her until they draw the curtain back.

"My mom thinks it has problems. Basically, she doesn't think I want to work on it. She's wrong, I do. I just don't like any of her comments."

Ironically, Ally published her first book, She's Nice to Mice, when she was 10 years old. The now-out-of-print book was edited by my old friend, legendary editor and writer Joyce Johnson (Minor Characters).

Ally says, by the way, she's still getting cracks about her 30-minute acceptance speech at the Independent Spirit Awards a couple of years ago. She won for High Art and was so hysterical that she dragged friend Rosanna Arquette up on the stage and wouldn't get off.

"People thought I was on some psychedelic drug," she laughed. "But I was so moved and I didn't know if the chance would ever come again."

Sheedy has a new movie out on Court TV called The Interrogation of Michael Crowe, in which she plays the mother of a real-life kid who was accused by California police of killing his sister.

Actually, as the movie shows, young Michael was coerced into a confession. It's chilling, and Sheedy — without makeup — gives an Emmy-worthy (or is it Cable ACE-worthy?) performance. Make sure you find this movie when it debuts next month. It's riveting.

(Her character's name is Cheryl Crowe, but that's another story.)

Sheedy became famous as a member of the '80s gang of actors known as the Brat Pack, but she's overcome all that now. Happily married for 10 years to Angela Lansbury's nephew, and the mother of an 8-year-old, she hasn't talked to anyone from that gang in a long time. No Judd Nelson or Andrew McCarthy.

"But I really want to go see Molly Ringwald in Cabaret on Broadway. She's a real singer from way back when! But I don't mind being compared to my character from The Breakfast Club."

Where is Allison now, I wonder?

"She's brilliant," Sheedy said. "She grew up. She's brilliant. She's a teacher or a writer. Probably has some bipolar problems. She's a survivor. She already had her survival act in place. I have no worries for Allison."

Sheedy's next act is joining the revolving cast of The Exonerated, directed by Bob Balaban down at 45 Bleecker St. in New York. This extraordinary play has really taken off — and it's inspired other sources to seek out stories about people who've gotten off of death row.

In fact, this week People magazine employed six writers and editors to find similar stories. They used the word "exonerated" several times, but made no mention of the play or where they could have possibly gotten the idea for their story! But People who copy people are something, right?