Spider-Man to Play Einstein?

Tobey Maguire | Ryan Phillippe  | James Brown   

Spider-Man to Play Einstein?

Albert Einstein may have found himself in sticky situations, but none so icky as having been Spider-Man in a former life.

According to my sources, word is that Tobey Maguire, who headlines the box office smash Spider-Man and plays the title character, is about to see if E really does equal MC squared.

Maguire is being wooed by Steve Martin and director Fred Schepisi to play Einstein in the film version of Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

And, the feeling is that Maguire will sign on the dotted line. He will join a cast that includes Ryan Phillippe, Kevin Kline, Juliette Binoche, and Martin. Phillippe's wife, Reese Witherspoon, had been courted for the part of Picasso's girlfriend, but she's got other plans. She is still hovering around the Original Gangsta Bitches comedy that I reported about a couple of weeks back.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man screenwriter David Koepp is also basking in the glory of the webbed wonder's box office bonanza. He is adapting a Stephen King novella for the screen, with which he'll make his directing debut — for Columbia Pictures. King's material has proven to be very adaptable to both the big and small screen — witness The Shining, The Stand, Stand by Me, Misery and The Green Mile.

Ryan Phillippe Had One Life to Live, on Tape

This week, ABC's much-revived soap opera One Life to Live is live — all week, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Ryan Phillippe, who's now a movie star, told me it should be a cake walk for the cast. He should know — 10 years ago, Phillippe made his acting debut on the show as a gay teen.

"I was scared to death and broke," he said. "I was 17. I didn't know what I was doing. But they shoot the show live anyway, so doing it live shouldn't be a problem. It's not like they do re-takes. It's just boom, straight through."

Phillippe was one of a bunch of stars who turned out last night for the premiere of the fluffy and delightful Importance of Being Earnest, the second successful Oscar Wilde adaptation in a row for director Oliver Parker at Miramax.

Among the other guests who partied at the weird Hudson Hotel: the movie's stars Frances O'Connor and Colin Firth, plus the eternal Sylvia Miles, Tadpole star Aaron Stanford, and Phillippe's gorgeous wife Reese Witherspoon (see above).

Phillippe said he didn't know his old soap was going live, but thought it was "a good gimmick" and he'd be tuning in today. If he does, he's guaranteed some fun. The show's long running star, Erika Slezak, has been turning in a doozy of an Emmy worthy performance the last few weeks.

James Brown, Other Soul Men in Renaissance

Maybe things are going to get better in the music business after all.

Island/DefJam Records, which is part of the Universal Music Group, is about to do something so daring that people far and wide will quake when they hear the news.

They're launching Def Soul Classics Records. I mean, how much better could this be?

Still being negotiated, Def Soul Classics will be run by Motown veteran Jheryl Busby, along with Def Jam's Kevin Liles and Russell Simmons. Getting readied for the amazing roster are James Brown, Bobby Womack and Earth, Wind & Fire. I'm told Teena Marie is next.

May I suggest Wilson Pickett as their next choice? Or how about Betty Wright, the "Clean up woman," who's singing better than ever?

My sources tell me that Def Soul will concentrate heavily on having the acts tour. And that's just fine since all of them are remarkable live performers with no need for augmentation. No karaoke when these guys are around.

Someone at DefJam is doing something right. Amen.

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