News for 7/20/2004

Halle Berry Leaps Into an Arena of Action


LOS ANGELES, July 20 — When the big-budget action movie "Catwoman" opens on Friday, its star, Halle Berry, will face the biggest test of her career.

Costing close to $90 million, and with Ms. Berry receiving $12.5 million for the title role, "Catwoman" presents her with both a tantalizing opportunity and a considerable risk.

The first African-American to win an Oscar for best actress — for the 2001 film "Monster's Ball" — Ms. Berry has now become the first African-American actress to headline an expensive, effects-laden production, this one about a meek graphic artist who turns into a vigilante with feline powers.

In the zero-sum calculations of the movie industry, Ms. Berry's bankability as a star will be judged largely on whether she can "open" "Catwoman," a Warner Brothers film — meaning whether she can make it a financial winner. If it succeeds, it will place her among a rarefied group of top-paid female stars, only a few of them established box office draws, and signify yet another achievement for African-American actors.

But that is far from guaranteed. Pre-release word on the movie has been less than encouraging, and market research has shown audience interest to be relatively weak among all but young women. "Catwoman" will also be released on the same day as another action movie, "The Bourne Supremacy," which has been winning positive word-of-mouth and some strong early reviews.

For Ms. Berry, 37, "Catwoman" was a deliberate attempt to show, in the wake of her Oscar, that she could be a box office draw. "This movie presented to me a whole new challenge, something I haven't done," she said in an interview. "It allowed me an opportunity to hopefully prove — if I'm really lucky, if the movie god is watching — that a woman, especially a woman of color, can open one of these summer movies."

Unless you count the blaxploitation films starring Pam Grier in the 1970's, which were successful but decidedly low-budget, that has not yet happened in Hollywood.

The progress of African-American actors in the entertainment industry has been slow and grudging over all, but it is still significant. This summer black actors are the stars of big-budget releases three weeks in a row: Will Smith in "I, Robot" last Friday, Ms. Berry in "Catwoman" this week and Denzel Washington in "The Manchurian Candidate" on July 30.

The most unusual is unquestionably "Catwoman," the sort of flashy, effects-heavy vehicle that rarely stars a woman, much less an African-American one.

"We decided to greenlight her in `Catwoman,' based on her performance in which she won an Academy Award, and because we thought she was right for the role," said Jeff Robinov, the president for production at Warner Brothers. "We were thinking about making the movie. We were told she wanted to do the movie. So: `Halle Berry as Catwoman? O.K., let's do it.' "

Ms. Berry agreed that the casting more or less happened that way, though her interest in the role was nothing if not strategic. After winning the Oscar, she sat down with her longtime manager, Vince Cirrincione, and together they laid out a plan to establish her as a box office commodity.

As she has before — in her explicit sex scene in "Monster's Ball" and her topless appearance in "Swordfish" — Ms. Berry did not shy away from using her sexuality to draw the public's attention.

The first film to accomplish that was "Die Another Day" in 2002, in which Ms. Berry played the sexy, streetwise Jinx, a role secondary to Pierce Brosnan's as James Bond. The movie was an international box office smash, and publicity photos everywhere showed Ms. Berry in a skimpy bikini, emerging from the surf.

Last year she starred in "Gothika," a psychological thriller also made by Warner Brothers. It was a moderate hit at the United States box office, taking in $60 million. But it earned another $80 million abroad, making it a financial success, since the film cost $40 million to make.

Warner Brothers had been developing "Catwoman" since 1991, ever since Michelle Pfeiffer played the character in "Batman Returns." The studio had offered the part to Nicole Kidman, who passed, before learning that Ms. Berry was interested. The script makes Catwoman into more of a superhero than in "Batman," in which she was a villain.

Ms. Berry said: "It was sitting around, there were different people attached, we got wind of that, and on the side said, `Hey, hey, hey, if you wanna go, and if you want someone to go right now, here's an option.' "

The movie was made very quickly by Hollywood standards, beginning shooting in February, with the studio working up to the last minute to finish it. The negative word-of-mouth has come in the wake of the trailer, and all along there has been chatter among movie fan Web sites about the skimpiness of Ms. Berry's costume: Catwoman wears a black leather halter outfit and high heels and wields a whip, resembling nothing so much as a superhero dominatrix.

The poster and billboard show a bleached-out, sexualized image of Ms. Berry on all fours. She said she had no problem with that.

"If people go see the movie," she said, "they'll see I'm projecting a lot more than sex. It's about being empowered, being O.K. in your skin. Sure, it's sexy. To me a certain amount of being sexy, that's O.K. It's where I've evolved to as a woman. And as a result, I'm more O.K. with expressing that in my work."

Others say that the sexualization echoes historic stereotypes of black women. "When you talk about Halle Berry, it's all about her sexuality," said Todd Boyd, a professor of critical studies at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television. "That ties into a historical representation of black women as being either a Mammy character or someone like Halle Berry, who is represented as a sexual object."

He added, "Her popularity as of late is curious because of the overriding sexual component that, in my mind, takes attention away from what would normally be conversations about acting skill."

Indeed, despite her supporters at Warner Brothers and other studios like Lions Gate, not all studio executives are convinced that Ms. Berry has a sizable core audience. One studio chief, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she did not consider Ms. Berry a viable star, noting that the actress's perfect features were intimidating to women, and that her emphasis on sexuality had objectified her to men.

Meanwhile, the projects lined up for Ms. Berry in the wake of "Catwoman" are all low-budget, more artistic movies that she sought out or is producing. And after announcing a spinoff from the Bond series, MGM has decided not to pursue a separate movie about Jinx.

Ms. Berry's next projects include "October Squall," a Fox Searchlight production in which she will star as a woman dealing with the effects of her rape. She is also developing scripts for "Frankie and Alice," based on the true story of a woman with a multiple-personality disorder, and "Nappily Ever After," a woman's coming-of-age story.

Her manager, Mr. Cirrincione, said: "It's all generated from our end. We have to keep doing that, and hopefully we will get opportunities from the studios."

Winning the Oscar, he said, has changed things for the actress, but not as much as you might expect. "It was difficult then," he said. "It's not much easier now. It's a different kind of a struggle."

Meanwhile, Ms. Berry, a veteran of Hollywood's mercurial tastes, is prepared to move on if "Catwoman" does not succeed, and remains philosophical about her choice to make the film.

"I've survived the business this long," she said. "I've survived ups and downs. If this doesn't work, you keep trying, keep throwing it up against the wall. You don't quit with one failure, or one success, or rest on those laurels. As an actor, it's what we do."

GQ Cover: Halle Berry, The Sexiest Catwoman Alive, Says She'll Never Marry Again

NEW YORK, July 19 /PRNewswire/ -- GQ profiles the sexiest Catwoman alive, Halle Berry, who poses in a vintage, hand-crocheted bathing suit on the cover of the magazine's August issue. GQ special correspondent Lucy Kaylin sits down with the Oscar winner for a revealing conversation about growing up bi-racial, the power of Catwoman, the highs of having it all, and then losing it, and why she'll never marry again. Highlights of the interview include:

On growing up bi-racial: "Nobody knew I had a white mother until the day she came to school -- for an open house, a parent day, or some such -- and I had that defining moment where I realized my cover was blown and everyone knew I was different. I didn't even know it was a cover until they had a problem with it."

On discovering estranged husband Eric Benet's "sex addiction": "I was on the biggest high of my life, I mean, my feet weren't even on the ground. I had reached that success, I had a great marriage, I had a beautiful daughter ... I was thinking, Wow, I think this is what having it all must be ... And then ten days later I got hit with Eric's sex addiction ... And that started this whole discover of what really was going on in my marriage that I had no idea about. None whatsoever. So after that great high, I hit one of the greatest lows I've ever experienced. I plummeted right back into the depths of this valley that I'm just now sort of resurfacing from."

On whether she entertained serious thoughts of suicide, as she had after splitting with her first husband, David Justice: "I would never, ever, ever think of doing that again."

On why she'll never marry again: "That's what I expect [from men], because that's all I've known. My energy draws me to that, and draws that to me. There are flags along the way, but it's really hard, when you want to be loved so badly, to see the flags. So I found ways not to see the flags. But after two failed marriages, I think I've finally got it: It's all about the flags."

On her role in Catwoman: "I was going through a time in my life where I needed to make some really hard decisions for myself-be able to say I don't deserve to be treated like this, and I'm going to stand up and fight. And as Catwoman, it was very empowering, putting on that suit every day and having no rules and being in touch with my sexuality, my strength; say what I wanted to say, do what I wanted to do. And because I got to do that, I was able to do that in some areas in my real life: I made some changes in the people that worked for me, my marriage, my friends ... I cleaned house when I did Catwoman."

On her deceased father's selling a story to the Star for some cigarettes and beer about her not reaching out to him while he was dying: "A six-pack of beer and a pack of cigarettes. I'm like 'if you're going to do that, Dad, at least get what everybody else gets when they do this sh*t.'"

Catwoman costar, Benjamin Bratt on the un-diva like quality of Halle Berry: "Look, the woman could be a real diva if she wanted to and get away with it, but she doesn't play that. You can't say she's a regular girl, because she's not a regular girl by any stretch of the imagination, but it's almost as though she sees herself like that."

Billy Bob Thornton, Berry's co-star in Monster's Ball, says, "Halle and I didn't have to discuss much to do this movie. I think you know one when you see one, you know what I mean? When you've got a lot of heaviness in your past, if you meet someone else who has it, you just recognize it in them. We looked at each other and it was like, 'okay, let's go.'"

Lucy Kaylin's profile, "The Nine Lives of Halle Berry," is in the August issue of GQ, on newsstands nationwide, Tuesday, July 27, 2004. GQ is the leading men's general-interest magazine and part of Conde Nast Publications, Inc.

What happened?

Too many mediocre films like ‘Catwoman’ may torpedo Halle Berry's career


By Paige Newman

There’s something so disappointing about seeing a talented actor waste her talents on mediocre projects. A similar feeling struck me a couple years back when, after blazing through “The Usual Suspects,” “L.A. Confidential,” and “American Beauty,” Kevin Spacey suddenly turned his talents to “Pay it Forward” and “K-Pax.” What happened? Now, here we are again. Halle Berry is more talented than she displays in any of the projects she’s done since her Oscar-winning turn in “Monster’s Ball.” She’s currently starring in “Catwoman,” a film that’s gotten some of the worst word of mouth of any movie being released this summer. And again, I find myself asking the question: What happened?

Post-Oscar curse

Perhaps the very act of winning an Oscar can be too overwhelming. After all, what ever happened to Marisa Tomei, Mira Sorvino or even Gwyneth Paltrow? Has Julia Roberts done anything remotely interesting since her Oscar win for “Erin Brockovich”? Maybe once these actors achieve what they’ve set out to accomplish, something happens to their motivation. Perhaps they decide that now that they’ve established themselves as real actors, it's okay to take on some lighter roles, to have some fun, and in the process, stop challenging themselves.

Or maybe it’s something more mysterious, the kind of curse an author faces when she has to write that second novel and avoid the dreaded sophomore slump. Even Nicole Kidman, an actress who seems to be making the right choices, is having a run of bad luck. In this past year, she’s made “Dogville,” “The Human Stain” and “The Stepford Wives.” All respectable choices, and yet, they haven’t lived up to her Oscar-winning work. What of the pressure that comes with having to be the great actor the public believes you to be? And what if they suddenly stop believing it?

The Jolie connection

There’s another actor who comes to mind when I think of Halle Berry: Angelina Jolie. Jolie is another Oscar winner who seems lost in her post-Oscar acting career. Like Berry, she’s turned to playing comic book (or in Jolie’s case, computer game) characters. And like Berry, she hasn’t made one interesting film since her award-winning turn in “Girl Interrupted.” The two also share something else in common: their best work was not in the films for which they won their Oscars, but rather in HBO movies about real people.

In Jolie’s case, the film was “Gia,” a movie based on the life of model Gia Carangi. In Berry’s case, the film was “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.” In these two films, Berry and Jolie got to show the breadth of their talents. Unlike in her role in “Monster’s Ball,” Berry got to be beautiful and act at the same time. That’s one of the odd things about today’s films, a woman can be beautiful in a film or she can have a role that lets her use her talents, but she’s rarely given the opportunity to do both. The HBO film gave Berry freedom to show some range. Though Dandridge is at times abused and misused by those around her, Berry always plays her with strength. Yet the strength she shows doesn’t cut her off from the people around her. The chemistry Berry has with Klaus Maria Brandauer’s Otto Preminger is palpable. Berry makes this unlikely coupling seem real, and her performance is a triumph.

‘Whores or mammies’

Watching the character of Dorothy Dandridge struggle to find good roles, it’s easy to imagine how much Berry must have related to her plight. The question of whether there are good roles for women, let alone good roles for African American women, is one that’s asked on a regular basis. Beyond Berry, who are the top African American actresses in Hollywood? Perhaps, Queen Latifah. Some might suggest Angela Bassett — although if you do, I challenge you to try to remember one film she’s done since “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” Gabrielle Union, Vivaca A. Fox, Kerry Washington, Jada Pinkett Smith? How about Whoopi Goldberg or Beyoncé?

Berry got her start in movies in Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever,” playing the crack-addicted girlfriend of Samuel L. Jackson. And she is marvelous in the role — completely unrecognizable and fully committed to the part. Watching it, you never remember that she’d co-starred on TV’s “Living Dolls” or been a model. Yet I’m reminded of a line from “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” about how black actresses are relegated to playing “mammies or whores.” Perhaps Berry’s recent overly commercial choices just show her need to escape that stereotype. Though her work in “Monster’s Ball” was indeed Oscarworthy, there was something sad about watching her play such a victim. Catwoman, Storm and Jinx seem like very one-dimensional roles, but the one thing they all have in common is that they’re all powerful women.

Secret power

Are there roles for powerful women in Hollywood films? Again, I think of Angelina Jolie taking on Lara Croft — a role that seems to be a complete waste of her talents. Yet what is Jolie or Berry going to play: the girlfriend role, the wife, the mother? Both actresses share a bold radiance that seems as though it would be an asset to one’s career —yet, in some ways, doesn’t a slightly softer actress like Renee Zelweger or Cameron Diaz get more opportunities?

Looking at the careers of Berry and Jolie, you would think that to be a powerful woman in a Hollywood movie, you basically have to turn yourself into a cartoon. And it makes me worry for the most recent best-actress Oscar winner, Charlize Theron, who again seems a little too powerful, a little too radiant to be contained by the usual roles Hollywood offers women. Will she end up playing a superhero as well?

Of course, the one thing going against Berry that isn’t quite an issue for Jolie, yet, is time. Though Berry doesn’t look even close to her 38 years, the reality is that as she gets older, unless she can turn herself into a character actress, the parts she’s offered will begin to decrease. Even Meryl Steep doesn’t seem to make as many films as she used to — not to mention Michelle Pfeiffer and, oh yeah, Angela Bassett.

Perhaps it’s wrong to criticize Berry for taking on the role of a sexy vixen like Catwoman at 38 years old. Maybe, we should just be glad it’s being offered to her.

Next up for Berry

The good news is Berry isn’t being pushed to the side just yet. She has seven projects in the works for the next few years. They range from a television movie of Zora Neale Hurston’s novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God” to a remake of Pam Grier’s “Foxy Brown” to a comedy called “Nappily Ever After” to another “X-Men” sequel. Surely, one of those roles should offer Berry another chance to show her talent. In the meantime, rent, “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” or “Bullworth” or “Monster’s Ball,” because despite the recent choices she’s made, one thing’s certain: Halle Berry can act.

Halle Berry Finds Her Purr-fect Role

By Mike Szymanski

Halle Berry is the cat's meow these days. Or, at least, she is with "Catwoman." "I have watched my cat and I listen to how he purrs and plays and walks and when he gets angry," Berry says. "And there's a sound that he makes that I've tried to use, too."

Her cat is one of the 60 homeless cats used in a scene in her last film, "Gothika," with Robert Downey Jr. In that film, she's a successful psychiatrist who is accused of brutally killing her husband. Berry's mother worked as a psychiatric nurse, and she helped her with the role.

"My mom was a psych nurse at a veteran's hospital for 35 years and I've grown up with that in my life -- therapy and psychology and always knowing the value and the benefit of it," Berry says. "My mom was really helpful in telling me what things a person in that situation would feel, and how the hell they got there."

In lots of ways, Berry says she looks at where she is now and wonders how the hell she got there. Now the highest paid black actress in Hollywood history, she also has an Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy, Image and SAG Award, so she's always aware of expectations to better herself.

"People thought it was strange I was going off to be a Bond girl right after winning an Oscar," she says about her win as an abusive mom in "Monster's Ball" and then playing Jinx in "Die Another Day." "Then, they thought it was strange that I did 'Gothika,' or played Storm again in 'X2,' I don't care."

She's keeping busy, saying "my umbrella is full," with her roles in upcoming movies, "The Guide," "The Set-Up," "Nappily Ever After" and the animated sci-fi film "Robots." She ended her second marriage last October, and tries to maintain her privacy, saying, "There are some things that I still haven't revealed that are still secret. I've got strong family support and faith." And, if a reporter gets too personal, she says kiddingly with a wave of her hand, "I slap them."

Although she looks stunning as she walks into the room for an interview with Zap2it.com, she insists she hasn't felt the pressure to always be beautiful. "I don't buy into that pressure to be glamorous all the time. It's impossible, I mean, you get a pimple in the morning, you wake up with bags under your eyes, you see if you can use it in your work, maybe incorporate it into your character."

There's no room for bags under her eyes in "Catwoman," where she's decked out in a skin-tight leather outfit, spars with Sharon Stone and plays around with Benjamin Bratt.

"Halle is one of the most dedicated, focused actors that I've ever worked with. She's arguably one of the biggest superstars in the world, " Bratt says, "but I have to give her full credit because even in the most ridiculous or seemingly insignificant off camera moment, she would be there."

French director Pitof says, "I know people thought there would be cat fights among the cast, but they were the utmost professional, and Halle is a superstar no matter what superhero she plays."

And what about another comic book originated role she's known for? She's not convinced she will reprise her superhero role of Storm in the X-Men franchise because she says, "My desires have been dictated by what the fans have come to me with, and what their complaints have been. After every movie, especially the real diehard fans, they often say, 'Yeah you know Storm was okay, but she should do more, she should fly, she should fight, she should be more of what she is in the comic book series.' I'm not really complaining, I'm happy to be a part of it as its been a great franchise to be a part of, but I think the fans feel that in the comic book she's represented as a little bit more of a leader."

So far, that's not reflected in her character on the big screen, and it may have to if she's going to return.

She laughs about the comic book turn of her career. "I wasn't an avid comic book reader, but I did read them. Batman was probably the biggest one -- it was something I related to, so it's really great that now I get to be Catwoman."

One of her idols, Eartha Kitt is one of the most famous actresses to play Catwoman. "Being a woman of color, that meant a lot to me as a kid to see someone like me playing a character that was so universal. So, that theme has sort of come full circle for me now as I get to be the Catwoman for the new century."

She sighs, almost purrs, "That feels really good."

News for 5/9/2004

The following interview appeared in the May 2004 issue of Channel Guide Magazine

The following interview appeared in the November 2003 issue of Savoy Magazine

News for 4/27/2004

Halle Berry Files for Divorce

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Actress Halle Berry has filed for divorce from her husband, R&B singer Eric Benet, a spokeswoman said.

Publicist Karen Samfilippo confirmed the filing Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court but declined to comment.

The couple were married about three years and separated in October. This is the second divorce for the actress, who was previously married to Cleveland Indians outfielder David Justice.

Tabloids speculated about Benet's faithfulness from nearly the moment the "X-Men" star married Benet in January 2001.

The two met in 1999 at a party to celebrate the premiere of Berry's HBO movie "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," about the first black woman nominated for a best-actress Oscar with 1954's "Carmen Jones."

Berry won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for the Dandridge role. She then became the first black woman to win a best-actress Oscar for her work in 2001's "Monster's Ball."

Benet has a young daughter, India, from a previous relationship with a girlfriend who was killed in car crash 15 months after the girl was born.

His first album, "True to Myself," was released in 1996. He has had such hits as "Spend My Life With You" and "Love Don't Love Me."

News for 4/2/2004

Halle Berry Bows Out of HBO Movie

By Chris Gardner

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Halle Berry has scrapped plans to star in HBO's ensemble drama "Lackawanna Blues," a project on which she is also an executive producer.

No reason was given, but ill heath forced Berry to skip the movie theater owners' ShoWest confab in Las Vegas where she was to receive the Female Star of the Year award last Thursday.

"Lackawanna Blues," based on actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson's Obie-winning one-man play of the same name, revolves around on a group of eccentrics at an all-black rooming house in Lackawanna, New York. "Law & Order" co-star S. Epatha Merkerson plays their caretaker. The cast also includes Delroy Lindo, Henry Simmons, Terrence Howard, Macy Gray, Hill Harper, Thomas Jefferson Byrd, Jeffrey Wright, Rosie Perez and Liev Schreiber. George C. Wolfe directs.

News for 2/15/2004

Halle Berry Has the Lackawanna Blues

Source: Production Weekly

Halle Berry, who wraps production on Catwoman next week, will join Rosie Perez, Liev Schreiber and Jeffrey Wright in Lackawanna Blues, reports Production Weekly. The film is based on actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson's Obie-winning one-man play of the same name. George C. Wolfe directs the project later this month in Los Angeles.

Santiago-Hudson is adaptating the play which tells the story of the Tony-winning actor's childhood in Lackawanna, N.Y., during the 1950s and '60s. He lived in a boarding house run by a remarkable woman, affectionately known as Nanny, who gave the boy an unconventional upbringing when his own drug-addicted mother couldn't handle the obligation.

Halle will then star in an adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's classic 1937 novel, Their Eyes Were Watching, for director Darnell Martin. The film traces the life of Janie Crawford, a free-spirited woman whose search for identity and happiness puts her in opposition to the mores of her small Florida town. Production is scheduled to being late-March in L.A. and Florida.

News for 1/31/2004

Tollin-Robbins tackles tale of Texas drug bust

By Dave McNary

(Variety) Oscar winner Halle Berry will topline "Tulia," portraying a lawyer investigating an infamous Texas drug bust, for Tollin-Robbins Prods.

Halle, currently shooting Warner's "Catwoman" in Vancouver, will portray the NAACP's key attorney in a case involving the 1999 arrests of 10% of the black population of Tulia, Texas.

The arrests did not produce drugs or money, causing prosecutors and civil rights groups to denounce the bust as racial profiling. The undercover agent who conducted the bust was indicted for perjury; most of the 46 arrestees were pardoned by Texas Gov. Rick Perry last year.

Berry's next projects will be "Their Eyes Were Watching God," a telepic for Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Prods. based on Zora Neale Hurston's novel set in post-WWII Florida, and Fox Searchlight's "October Squall," in which Berry will portray a rape victim.

"Tulia," which has been in development at Paramount-based Tollin/Robbins for several years, will be directed by one of the partners, Mike Tollin or Brian Robbins. The duo credit baseball icon Henry Aaron for getting the project off the ground.

The producers had worked with Aaron on 1995's "Chasing the Dream," which profiled Aaron's pursuit of Babe Ruth's home run record amid racially charged death threats, and were attending an NAACP event several years ago at which Aaron was one of the honorees.

"As part of the presentation about what the NAACP does, they were explaining the situation in Tulia," Robbins recalled. "We both said, 'We have to do this movie because it's so compelling.' "

Tollin-Robbins Prods. has acquired film rights to an upcoming book about the Tulia saga by Texas Monthly writer Nate Beardslee, plus life rights from several key figures.

The story offers up echoes of a pair of successful 2000 pics --- "Erin Brockovich" for its focus on a crusading female attorney and "Traffic" for its depiction of the nation's drug wars. But what's perhaps most surprising about TRP developing "Tulia" is that the shingle has carved out a niche for itself in middle-of-the-road fare mixing sports and coming-of-age themes.

"It's never been about saying, 'This is in our comfort zone,' " Tollin noted. "We simply use sports as a backdrop to tell good stories."

TRP launched with sports docs like "Hardwood Dreams" and "The Show," moved into features with "Good Burger" and has since produced "Varsity Blues," "Summer Catch," "Hardball," "Radio," "Ready to Rumble" and HBO's "Arli$$." It's currently shooting "The Ken Carter Story," about an old-school basketball coach; Paramount/MTV's "Perfect Score," centered on high-school students stealing an SAT test, opens Friday; and it's developing "Fever Pitch," a baseball version of Nick Hornby's tale of Brit soccer fandom.

Even the fictional "Perfect Score" stars an actual NBA player, Darius Miles.

Tollin and Robbins simply see "Tulia" as a logical evolution in developing reality-based features such as "Radio" and "Ken Carter." "Tulia," they believe, is taking them back to the days of producing sports docs, which included extensive exploration of civil rights issues.

"We don't see ourselves as social reformers by making these films," Tollin added. "You couldn't invent what happened in Tulia. That's why we've pursued rights very aggressively, because we think it's critical to involve the holders in retelling the story."

Robbins helmed "The Perfect Score," "Hardball," "Ready to Rumble" and "Varsity Blues"; Tollin directed "Summer Catch" and "Radio."

TRP, which is repped by UTA, is also among the town's more prolific TV producers, with "Smallville," "All That," "Nick Cannon," "Slamball," "One Tree Hill," "I'm With Her" and "What I Like About You." The shingle moved its TV deal from Warner to Touchstone last year.

Berry, who's repped by WMA and managed by Vincent Cirrincione, was hospitalized Saturday after colliding with a boom mike while filming a running scene for "Catwoman," but her injuries were minor and she returned to the set this week.

Berry OK After Accident on 'Catwoman' Set

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Halle Berry was taken to a hospital after colliding with a piece of set equipment while filming a running scene for "Catwoman" but is now back at work, production spokesman Joe Everett said.

The accident was quite minor, Everett said Tuesday, denying reports that the Oscar-winning actress was hit in the head with a microphone boon and spent six hours in a hospital waiting room.

"She had to maneuver past a piece of equipment, a set piece and she didn't quite run past it, but she's just fine," he said. "She was taken to hospital Saturday night, treated and released and was at work again Monday morning."

Berry broke her arm last year while shooting "Gothica" in Montreal and injured her eye on the set of "Die Another Day."

News for 1/18/2004

Berry Beaten by Snipes?

by Lia Haberman

In a startling accusation, one of Halle Berry's former beaus has pinpointed her one-time boyfriend Wesley Snipes as the man who busted her eardrum.

R&B singer Christopher Williams, who hooked up with the actress in the early '90s, says he's setting the record straight because many have assumed that he was the one to hit Berry so hard that she lost most of the hearing in her right ear. Berry has never divulged the identity her attacker.

"The stuff they wrote about [me] and Halle was totally false. They said something like I busted her eardrum, and I'm tired of it. I never said it [before] but I'm so tired of people thinking I'm the guy [who did it]. Wesley Snipes busted her eardrum, not me," Williams allegedly told entertainment site Eurweb, which bills itself as providing the "Urban/Black Entertainment 4-1-1."

Calls to Snipes' attorney and Berry's reps were not returned.

Williams also had some harsh words for his former girlfriend: "I have [men] come up to me like, 'How could you just leave Halle Berry?' I'm like, how could you just leave the last relationship you was [in]? [Halle] is just a woman, but because her name is in lights, people are damned near ready to bare their souls."

"They would probably crucify Jesus again just to get with her. It's funny because the stars that get all of the good write-ups, you go and meet them and they are total a--holes," concluded the singer.

No denying the Bond babe's had her share of bad luck with men. She recently split from her second husband, R&B singer Eric Benét, after two years of marriage. Berry was previously married to purportedly abusive baseball star David Justice from 1992 to 1996. During their acrimonious divorce, she filed for a restraining order claiming she feared for her "personal safety and well-being" around her ex.

Less volatile is Berry's relationship with the box office. The Oscar winner recently wrapped production in Toronto on Catwoman opposite Benjamin Bratt. The two are slated to reteam and shoot The Setup for director Sydney Lumet.

After that, Berry's scheduled to star in Nappily Ever After from indie helmer Patricia Cardoso (Real Women Have Curves) and Lee Tamahori's action-thriller The Guide while lending her voice to CGI 'toon Robot from director Chris Wedge (Ice Age).