Fri, Nov 24, 2006 - Page 17 News List

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For Takeshi Kaneshiro, blood is thicker than water.


Tributes to Robert Altman poured in from across the film world this week following the death of the director hailed as one of the giants of cinema.

Altman, 81, died in a Los Angeles hospital Monday due to complications caused by an 18-month battle with cancer, eight months after he had received an Oscar in recognition of a career that spanned 86 films and 55 years.

Tim Robbins, the star of Altman's 1992 black comedy about modern Hollywood, The Player, said the director was a "great friend and inspiration" who had left behind a "legacy of great American films."

"His unique vision and maverick sensibilities in film-making have inspired countless directors of my generation and will continue to inspire future film-makers," Robbins said.

Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep, who stars in Altman's latest movie A Prairie Home Companion, said the director had given no clue of his ailing health when she recently spoke with him.

"Bob's restless spirit has moved on," Streep said. "I have to say, when I spoke with him last week, he seemed impatient for the future.

"He still had the generous, optimistic appetite for the next thing, and we planned the next film laughing in anticipation of the laughs we'd have."

Richard Gere, the lead role in Altman's 2000 movie Dr. T and the Women, described the director as "unprecedented," hailing his ability to capture the ever-changing face of contemporary America.

"There's no-one I'm prouder to have worked with. He was an ecstatic ... a magician ... a conjurer ... a mischievous boy. Perhaps unprecedented," Gere said.

Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has withdrawn from a movie adaptation of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit because of an ongoing legal wrangle, it was reported Tuesday.

New Zealander Jackson revealed his decision to withdraw in a letter to a Lord of the Rings fan Web site,, saying a dispute with New Line Cinema had left him no option but to pull out of the project.

Jackson, who received a best director Oscar for the final installment of the record-breaking Rings trilogy, had been in talks to develop The Hobbit, described as a prequel to Lord of the Rings.

However, he and his wife, fellow producer Fran Walsh, pulled out after alleging that they were being strong-armed into making The Hobbit.

"This outcome is not what we anticipated or wanted, but neither do we see any positive value in bitterness or rancor," Jackson said in the letter reported in Hollywood's trade press Tuesday.

Jackson's Wingnut Films filed a lawsuit in 2005 alleging that New Line had failed to properly calculate DVD sales revenue for the first installment of the Rings trilogy.

Jackson said he did not want to enter into negotiations about The Hobbit until the legal dispute was resolved. Jackson said the studio had indicated it would settle the lawsuit if he committed to directing The Hobbit.

The 51st Asia-Pacific Film Festival will open in Taipei County today, with films from 21 countries competing for numerous awards and 350 representatives from 15 countries taking part in a series of seminars and receptions.

This is the first time the festival has been held in Taipei County.

Veteran Hong Kong actor Andy Lau (劉德華) said Monday that shooting on his new movie, about the tragic story of three good friends set in China's Qing Dynasty, will begin at the end of the month.

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