Melanie and Antonio: Several Continents Apart

Melanie Griffith And Antonio Banderas | Michael Jackson | Movie Trailers

Melanie and Antonio: Several Continents Apart

It's one thing to be apart for a little while, or a short distance from each other. But Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas are going overboard.

Last month, she started filming a new movie in Australia while he commenced his second movie in a row in Mexico.

I don't even know how many time zones these places are from each other. Let's just say a lot!

Interestingly, Banderas' project is one without much fanfare, but it could turn out to be a big deal. HBO, which is not a movie studio per se and doesn't make big budgeted films, is spending $25 million on Bruce Beresford's And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself. Written and executive produced by the great Larry Gelbart, the film co-stars Best Supporting Actor winner Jim Broadbent and Colm Feore. It's based on the story of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa (Banderas), who joined forces with U.S. pioneer filmmakers Harry Aitken (Broadbent) and D.W. Griffith (Feore), inviting them to film his battles in exchange for gold to support his peasant army.

If it's a success, HBO may be ready to release it to movie houses rather than try it out on its subscription audience. They're trying that this month with Real Women Have Curves.

It's significant that HBO is investing so much money in what would have been a movie of the week for them. The company's previous biggest expenditure was for the miniseries Band of Brothers, which cost $125 million for 10 episodes and took not only the resources of HBO but also of 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks. But it's also not a surprise, since the enterprising and talented exec Colin Callender took over the feature side of HBO movie making.

As for Melanie, many longitudes away from Antonio, she's playing Barbara Marx Sinatra alongside Dennis Hopper's Frank Sinatra in The Night We Called It a Day. Apparently, the scriptwriter and director (both first timers) based their story on a real episode when Frank and Barbara were held hostage by the Australian people and couldn't leave the country. Actor David Hemmings plays Sinatra's tough guy lawyer Mickey Rudin.

According to sources on the set, Melanie and Antonio's six-year-old daughter, Stella, is not with her down under.

Just as a matter of trivia, during Oscar weekend last March, Melanie and Antonio rented out their Hollywood home to a tour group who had lunch there.

Jacko: A Jury of His Peers?

You know how crazy the Winona Ryder case is, right? On her jury is former Sony Pictures honcho Peter Guber, famous for "shoplifting" the entire Sony corporation in the late 1980s and now sort of a deposed dictator in Hollywood. He's one of Winona's peers.

Jury selection may begin this week in the case against Michael Jackson for allegedly abandoning agreed-to Millennium concerts at the end of 1999. His accuser is Marcel Avram, an old friend and convicted German tax evader. Avram says Jackson owes him $20 million for agreeing to perform and then backing out.

Avram also says that Jackson wanted him to pay his German doctor bills. No one knows what the bills were for or why Michael couldn't pay them. (Of course, we know his situation after having seen Michael's financial papers in his other ongoing case involving former business manager and friend Myung Ho Lee.)

Zia Modabber, Michael's famous and intrepid lawyer, will take the case in the Santa Barbara courts, vs. Skip Miller, Avram's representative. Jackson himself may be compelled to appear in court seeing as it's not far from Neverland. But who, we wonder, will be considered his peers? Former black men with little pink noses, who have three children who look nothing like him, and who has mannequins of children in his bedroom — who calls himself the King of Pop and has sold 100 million albums?

This jury selection should take a while.

Movie Trailers are Full of Hope

Right now, besides Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, the two movies no one's seen but would like to are Steven Spielberg's Catch Me if You Can and George Clooney's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. If movie trailers tell any story at all, these two movies look they've got a lot going for them.

Catch Me stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a sort of Great Pretender character who cons a lot of people with an inordinate amount of charm. Tom Hanks is the Joe Friday type who chases him. Hanks can be so subtly good that it's hard to tell from the trailer what he's doing here that's different than what he did in Dragnet.

But Leo already seems to shine in the clips, and this may turn out to be his breakthrough adult role. Spielberg also looks like he may be doing some new work here — light-hearted, yet full of style. For DiCaprio there's talk of a Best Actor nomination, which alleviates the problem he has with Gangs of New York: It's Daniel Day-Lewis' movie, and his eventual nomination for Best Actor is a dead certainty.

As for Confessions, I don't know about Oscars, but the trailer does show that George Clooney has at least made sense of game show host Chuck Barris' crazy story. Miramax has been sending out "Top Secret" promotional material for the last two weeks from a fake CIA-type organization, delineating Barris's "dangerous" mind. It's tantalizing to say the least. Star Sam Rockwell (Welcome to Collinwood) is on the verge of his own breakthrough, and Confessions looks like it may be it.