The crew of the Starship Enterprise has battled Klingons, Romulans and other dangerous inhabitants of the galaxy in its far-flung travels, but are Kirk and Spock ready to risk appearing on the same screen as Eddie Murphy? That's one of the liveliest rumors around town these days as director Leonard Nimoy prepares "Star Trek IV" for Paramount Pictures and Murphy, under an exclusive contract with the studio, looks for his next film.
Talking to the Los Angeles Times, Nimoy admitted that Murphy is an acknowledged Trekkie, but although he's previously described the next "Star Trek" as lighter and funnier than its predecessors, he denied a rumored story line that had the crew using a time warp to rescue the Enterprise (which, you might remember, was destroyed in the last film) and then traveling to Earth circa 1990, where they run into Eddie Murphy playing Eddie Murphy. That far-fetched scenario isn't true, said Nimoy, who claimed the new movie will pick up where "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" left off, sans Enterprise. But he also added that he wouldn't mind welcoming Murphy aboard whatever starship the crew ends up using . . .
Jean-Luc Godard has been making adventurous, unconventional films since the 1950s, when he helped start the French New Wave with such films as "Breathless," and he's always had his share of critics. Last week he acquired a new, influential detractor: Pope John Paul II, who denounced Godard's "Je Vous Salue Marie" ("Hail Mary") in a telegram to Cardinal Ugo Poletti in Rome.
It seems the new film takes a distinctly irreverent look at certain church teachings, telling the story of the Virgin Mary and the birth of Christ but setting it in a defiantly modern context: Mary, who has frequent nude scenes, is the daughter of a gas station manager who becomes pregnant while still a virgin, Joseph is a cab driver with a fondness for science-fiction novels and the Archangel Gabriel is a transient who curses a lot. A prayer service protesting the film was held in a Rome basilica, and the pope's telegram said he'd be "spiritually present" at that service . . .
Meanwhile, a Catholic organization has reportedly supplied $5 million of the $6 million budget of "Chain Reaction," a thriller starring Martin Sheen as a physicist trying to halt nuclear testing. Part of the film is set in Fatima, Portugal, where many -- including the members of the Blue Academy of Our Lady of Fatima, an organization established to spread the knowledge of religious miracles -- believe that the Virgin Mary has appeared.
Directed and produced by Richard Bennett and costarring Peter Firty and Tim Piggot-Smith, the film is partly based on scientific studies that found striking similarities between the aftermath of a nuclear test and the unusual aurora borealis that appeared over Fatima in 1917 and 1938 -- warnings, say believers, of impending wars. Since this similarity is one the Blue Academy would like publicized, it's apparently become the film's primary financier . . .
On the heels of his starring roles in "Dune" and the upcoming "The Bride," singer/actor Sting is ready to make his next film with director Michael Apted ("Coal Miner's Daughter"). It starts shooting next month in Paris and should finish two weeks and $2 million later. The still-untitled film can be shot that quickly because there's no script to worry about -- although the producers don't like the word "documentary," it's a straightforward account of Sting and his backing musicians (not the Police) arriving in Paris, rehearsing and doing live shows . . .
Literary-minded moviegoers can soon pick up the new novelization of "Rambo: First Blood, Part II," a sequel to the Sylvester Stallone film "First Blood" and to the David Morrell novel of the same name. There's just one problem -- in the original novel, Rambo died. Morrell has explained that away by noting, "In my novel 'First Blood,' Rambo died. In the films, he lives." The new book is also kind enough to explain where one can buy the newfangled and deadly knives, guns and assorted weapons that the resurrected Rambo uses . . .
In the upcoming Steven Spielberg production "Back to the Future," an automobile serves as a time machine and transports the teen-age hero back to the '50s. Naturally, not just any car is high-tech enough for that task. Word is now out that the appropriate auto is . . . a DeLorean.