September 30, 2002 12:00 PM

Hooked on Classics

Brad, Leo and Vin take on Achilles, Alexander and Hannibal


Toga! Toga! Toga! Once, it was only a frat-party chant; now it’s a major studio business strategy. This month Brad Pitt agreed to don Achilles’s armor and battle Hector in the legendary drama Troy, due to start filming in 2003. He follows in the sandal steps of Leonardo DiCaprio, who’ll take on the known world in Alexander the Great, and Vin Diesel, who’ll team with a pack of pachyderms on the Alps in Hannibal. Somewhere Victor Mature is smiling.

Why now? “They’re great stories, and movies are about making stories,” says producer Mike Medavoy (Vertical Limit). Of course, they’ve been told many times, especially by Hollywood. Casting baby-faced DiCaprio as ruler of the Macedonian empire, for example, brings to mind a Young Turk of another era: “Richard Burton looked pretty young and sweet when he made [1956’s Alexander the Great],” says John Nicols, a classics professor and film buff at the University of Oregon.

But what makes Hollywood think these ancient warriors can still dominate? Gladiator ruled. And producers hope there’s a new audience for old tales. “Alexander the Great was conquering the world when he was 22,” says Dino De Laurentiis, who’ll produce Alexander. “He’s from the younger generation, but his is a story for everybody.”

Brad: Whiskers à Go Go

And now for the really important news. Brad Pitt‘s decision to play Achilles in Troy means that he’ll be giving up his role in the sci-fi thriller The Fountain. Which, in turn, means: Bye-bye beard. The Grizzly Adams growth Pitt has been sporting—to the chagrin of many female fans—in preparation for The Fountain is now history. In its place is a stylish and less-than-woolly goatee. No word yet on who did the actual snipping, and at press time, no hairy remains had yet popped up on eBay. Celebrity hairstylist Jonathan Antin’s take? “Brad Pitt looked great with the beard, but he looks better without it.”

Take Another Piece of My Art

Celebs such as Barbra Streisand, Kelsey Grammer, Katie Couric and Ben Stiller are showing off their inner craftsmen these days by creating whimsical popcorn buckets (including one out of dreadlocks and paper), one-of-a-kind hats and hand-painted ceramic plates. It’s all for charity. The buckets and hats will be auctioned off on eBay in October to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation; the plates will be sold at the Carousel of Hope gala for juvenile diabetes in Beverly Hills on Oct. 15. How personal is their art? You decide. Match the stars above with their creations.






Fjord Explorer

When last we left our tale, Keiko, the killer whale from the Free Willy movies, had surfaced in a Norwegian fjord some 870 miles from his former home, a pen in Iceland. As we pick up the story, it appears rival Norwegian coastal communities, hoping to attract tourists, are lobbying to be the new home to the 5-ton star. “Come to Halsa, like Keiko did,” is the tourist slogan of Keiko’s current port of call. See “The world’s most famous whale in the world’s most famous fjord,” says the tourist chief of Geiranger fjord, on the same coast. It’s up to scientists to decide where Keiko—who will most likely follow their research boat—spends the winter. Stay tuned.

Simply Jolie

Where once there was a Voight, there now is a void. Although she gave no reason for her request, actress Angelina Jolie—who lately has been estranged from her actor dad, Jon Voight, 63—received permission Sept. 12 from L.A. superior court to drop the last word from her legal given name, Angelina Jolie Voight. In other name news, Jolie, 27, also changed her adopted son’s given name, Rath Vibol, to Maddox Chivan Thornton Jolie—even though she is divorcing Billy Bob Thornton and had complained that the actor had little time for Maddox.

Hollywood Hot Wheels

Look! Out on the freeway! It’s a blur! It’s a rocket! It’s…David Spade riding his new Trikke (pronounced “trike”), a scooterlike gizmo that’s powered by the same side-to-side body motion used by skiers, surfers and in-line skaters. “It’s like skateboarding and skiing, and I can take it on the 405,” says Spade with a laugh, one of a posse of celebs—including Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, Timothy Hutton and Shannon Elizabeth—who’ve taken to the three-wheeled vehicles, which are built in the same factory as the Razor scooter and cost from $199 to $299 each. “It’s really a workout,” says Alias’s Kevin Weisman, 31, who rides his on the set each day. “The skier in me loves it,” says Aniston, 33. Adds William Lee Scott (Pearl Harbor), 29: “All the neighborhood kids are so jealous.”


with Conan O’Brien

The star of Late Night with Conan O’Brien will not only host the Emmys on Sept. 22, he’s also a nominee: Late Night is up for outstanding writing for a variety, music or comedy program. Scoop caught up with the really tall funnyman and asked him Six Key Questions.

True or false: It’s an honor just to be nominated.

I won an Emmy as a comedy writer on Saturday Night Live in 1989, so I have one of them, and that takes all the mystique away. It turns out that they’re made of balsa wood and then spray-painted. And you can tell they recycle them. Mine says “Conan O’Brien,” but when you hold it up to the light you can see lettering underneath that says “Robert Guillaume…for Benson.”

How does this gig differ from Late Night?

People will be watching—intelligent people who are wide awake. I’m used to people who are taking medication late at night and people recovering from some kind of wound who can’t sleep.

You’ve been nominated seven times for the writing on Late Night but haven’t won. Why is that?

We’re in this insane category where sometimes we’ll lose to a show that makes sense, and sometimes we’ll lose to a PBS special on working with disabled children. I’ll be like, “What? Well, I guess that beats my interview with David Hasselhoff.”

Can anyone host?

You just check a form on your tax return that you want to host the Emmys. Sure enough it came through. People just don’t think to check that box.

How are you going to keep the show short?

I’m going to start throwing awards to people in the audience. The winners drag it out: Kissing everyone in your aisle, deliberately walking slowly up to the podium. So I’m going to get one of those tennis ball machines and start feeding Emmys into it.

Is this a career highlight?

This is definitely the biggest thing I’ve done. After this I’ll be like the American Idol kids and do a mall tour.



La vida loca has its charms, but so does la vida simple. Which may be why Ricky Martin is putting one of his three Miami Beach residences on the market. The singer, 30, bought the 4,467-sq.-ft. Italian-Mediterranean-style home, built in 1934, in 1997 for $1.7 million. He hopes to sell the now-renovated estate, which features four bedrooms, four baths, a courtyard and a pool with one of the best views of Florida’s Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami’s skyline, for $3.7 million—nothing to shake your bonbons at.

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