BASSETT ISLAND HOPPING

   Angela Bassett is set to star in director John Sayles independent film "Gold Coast." The project is about resort developers who plan to convert a small island into a resort paradise. Bassett plays a woman who returns to her island home and lands right in the middle of the community controversy over the resort development plans. Filming for "Gold Coast" starts in April.


"ROOTS" WITH A NEW LOOK

   Most "Roots" type films deal with African-Americans searching for their African roots, but Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb has made a film called "Little Senegal," which follows an African tracing his enslaved ancestors in America.
   After "Little Senegal" premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, the Oscar-winning director commented that he wanted to illustrate the clash in cultures between new African immigrants and black Americans. The film follows a tour guide from Senegal's slavery museum who decides to travel to the U.S. to trace his enslaved ancestors.


SAMANTHA MUMBA GOES SCI-FI

   Irish R&B/popster Samantha Mumba will debut on the big screen in the remake of the sci-fi thriller "Time Machine."
   Mumba will play Mara, one of the beautiful species of Elois that a time traveling scientist discovers 800,000 years in the future.



MORGAN FREEMAN JOINS CIA

   Morgan Freeman will be fighting terror while mentoring co-star Ben Affleck in the thriller "The Sum of All Fears."
   Freeman will play a CIA agent who, along with Affleck's character, face unspeakable fear on an undercover mission for the government.
   Filming started last month in Canada.
   A busy man, Freeman just completed work on the film "High Crimes."



EDDIE GRIFFIN IN PRISON

   Eddie Griffin has signed on with DJ Qualls, Zooey Deschanel and Eliza Dushku to costar in Columbia Pictures (Revolution Studio) "The New Guy," a film picked up in turnaround from Touchstone Pictures (Disney) - which means Disney decided not to make the movie.
   In the film, a high school "dud" (Qualls) gets expelled, and ends up in prison. While there, his cellmate, (Griffin) gives him tips on how to revamp his image, so he can start over at a different high school as a "cool dude." Only problem: one of the bullies that ruined the kid's chances at the old school shows up at the new school.




RHAMES vs. SNIPES IN JAILHOUSE BRAWL

   After being detained recently in a Las Vegas hotel for battling the staff and security, Wesley Snipes is back in Nevada and ready to brawl again. Snipes will star with Ving Rhames in the prison drama "Undisputed." Snipes plays the prison's top boxer who decides to resolve his problems with Rhames' character by challenging the brute to a winner-take-all brawl. Filming starts this Spring in Nevada.


GANG DRAMA

   The reality-based drama "Gang Tapes" premiered at the Pan African Film Fest, February 15, in Los Angeles and will hopefully be released to theaters soon.
   The movie, filmed entirely in Watts, is about a 13-year old boy, who's a wanna-be in the local gang scene. Using a stolen video camera, the boy decides to document his life and the lives of fellow gang bangers.
   To maintain the sense of reality, the cast was selected directly from the South Central Los Angeles community.


HARVEYS LAND TWO MOVIE DEAL

   Comedian Steve Harvey and his wife, Mary Lee Harvey, have sold their feature comedy pitch "Uncle Ray" to David Friendly and Marc Turtletaub's Deep River Productions and their other feature comedy pitch "Mistaken Identity" has been picked up by Warner Brothers. The two films are to be starring vehicles for Steve Harvey and production work for his wife and their Harvey House Entertainment company.
   The deals netted mid-six against seven figures, include producing fees. Now writers have to be hired to complete the scripts.
   "Uncle Ray" is about a single, upscale corporate executive (Harvey) whose boss asks him to take care of his kid over a long weekend. "Mistaken Identity" is about two strangers, a stockbroker (Harvey) and an insurance agent, who start their day in court for divorce proceedings then meet by crashing their cars together. While commiserating about their misfortunes over drinks, a beautiful woman mistakes them for detectives and ends up involving the two in a mad chase that also involves being hunted by the mob and the police.



DIESEL GOES FAST AND FURIOUS

   Vin Diesel ("Pitch Black") will soon be seen in Universal's "The Fast & The Furious" about street youth gangs in Los Angeles who modify sports cars to race illegally. Production started in July of last year and wrapped in the fall. Many were expecting to see this film in March, but guess what? Universal bumbed the release date back to June. We wait!



SHANICE GETS A SPECIAL MOMENT

   Shanice Alexander (the former Shanice Wilson), who married comedic/actor Flex last year, is currently working on her new CD for Arista Records, but she is also working on a BET (Black Starz!) movie called "One Special Moment" about the struggle of a famous young actor to find true love. She will play the friend of the actor's newfound love.



MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN GOING TO DOGS – AND CATS!

   Michael Clarke Duncan has signed on to be the voice of one of the dogs in Warners upcoming release "Cats and Dogs," about the eternal class struggle between the pets and humans.
   Live-action animals will be used for most shots and characters, with CGI special effects and animatronic creatures created by Jim Henson's Creature Shop filling in where needed.
   He is also set to star with his good friend Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in the upcoming "Mummy" prequel "The Scorpion King."



CUBA GOODING, JR. MAKING HISTORY

   Cuba Gooding Jr. will play real life hero Dorie Miller in Touchstone Pictures (Disney/Buena Vista) film "Pearl Harbor." The company says the movie is actually a love story, but not without a visually jarring depiction of the air raid and events before and after the attack that vaulted the U.S. into WWII.
   Gooding will play the mess attendant (3rdclass) Dorie Miller of the U.S.S. West Virginia. When his ship was attacked at Pearl Harbor, Miller rescued crew mates, and then took over on an anti-aircraft gun, fighting heroically throughout the battle.



HEY, HEY, HEY: IT'S FAT ALBERT

   20th Century Fox and Bill Cosby are in cahoots to bring his hefty animated character Fat Albert to life on the big screen. The live-action comedy feature will be produced by John Davis. The project is scheduled to start filming early next year.
   The film will blend live-action and some cartoon elements based on a screenplay written by Cosby and Charles Kipps. Fox is eyeing "Fat Albert" as a potential franchise and paid Cosby well into the seven figures for the movie rights.
   The big screen version of "Fat Albert" will be based on Cosby's 1960s comedy monologues about his childhood in his Philadelphia neighborhood. The screen version will center on Albert and his friends Rudy, Mushmouth, Dumb Donald, Bill, Old Weird Harold and Russell. Over the years, Cosby has supplied his voice for several of the characters, including Fat Albert, Bill and Mushmouth.