Rambling Reporter

23 TOWN RAMBLING Tom Hanks Ron Howard

Howard may be exiting the "Dark Tower" project to direct a Somali pirate film starring Tom Hanks.

Howard Off Dark Tower? Universal says Ron Howard's epic adaptation (three movies, plus TV) of Stephen King's novel The Dark Tower is "being rewritten." But sources close to Howard say the project has come to a serious standstill, and Howard's ready to jump ship. Word is, Howard wants to direct Scott Rudin's Somali pirate project slated for 2013 for Sony. Howard's best pal, Tom Hanks, has signed as Richard Phillips, the skipper of cargo ship Maersk Alabama, who was held hostage by Somali pirates, then rescued by Navy SEALs in 2009. It has been widely reported that Paul Greengrass is close to signing a deal to direct the pirate film, but insiders say Hanks wants Howard because they've worked together on five movies. A spokesperson for Universal denies Dark Tower is dead; spokespeople for Sony would not comment.

Clint Eastwood's Bromance Faux Pas
At AFI's Life Achievement Award gala honoring Morgan Freeman on June 9, the heavy-hitter audience -- which included Sidney Poitier, Helen Mirren, Howard Stringer and Forest Whitaker -- was nothing if not reverent. But some attendees bristled when Clint Eastwood introduced Freeman. "I don't know if it's proper to love a man, but this is as close as I'm going to get to it, so ..." started Eastwood, intending obvious praise for Freeman, before the two men hugged, and Freeman responded by saying, "I love you." But with people already wondering how director Eastwood is going to handle the homosexual subject matter of his new movie J. Edgar (starring Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover), it left many questioning whether Eastwood had given the comment a lot of thought. Will that line still be in the TV Land telecast June 19? Spokespeople for TV Land did not get back to THR by press time.

Gwen's Solo Redact
It has been widely reported that Gwen Stefani is calling her solo career quits. The news was based on an interview the singer gave to Entertainment Weekly in which she said of her time spent as a one-person act: "That was a moment in time. It went on a little longer than we all thought it would … [but] everything works out how it should." But sources close to Stefani insist the quote was misinterpreted. Apparently, what she meant was, she's sorry that No Doubt -- about to release its first album in 10 years -- didn't come back together and record earlier than now. "Gwen will do whatever Gwen wants to do, whenever she wants to," says one source. "The media just needed a story that day."

Entourage Forsakes L.A.
When Entourage kicks off its eighth and final season this summer, the kickoff party won't be on the West Coast. Oddly, the Hollywood-centric series will stage its last premiere in New York on July 19 in anticipation of its July 24 return. For years, the HBO show had double premieres, bicoastally, each season. Then, for a few more years, the hot-ticket soiree has taken place only in the show's native setting of L.A. Why the sudden change of city? An HBO insider tells us, "All the guys are from New York, including exec producer Doug Ellin." Apparently, Ellin is also scouting New York locations for his new HBO series 40, with Ed Burns, shooting in September, which Ellin refers to as "the educated Entourage." Ellin, who'd been pursuing Charlie Sheen for a possible last-season guest slot -- but never heard back -- apparently also reached out to none other than Anthony Weiner to play himself in an Entourage cameo. Asked what response he has gotten, Ellin just says, "Nothing."

Power Lunch

When Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes visited Bouchon on June 4, they asked head chef Rory Herrmann if he could whip them up some fried chicken -- not on the menu. Of course, he complied. And it turns out the two are fans not only of Herrmann's food but also of his father, famed character actor Edward Herrmann.  Also spotted at Bouchon: Simon Fuller, Ari Emanuel and Jerry Weintraub downstairs at Bar Bouchon, and the week before, David and Victoria Beckham. … Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi having lunch at Il Fornaio in Beverly Hills. … Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez at Sushi Dan in Studio City. … Adele enjoying a spicy tuna roll at Sushi Roku on West Third Street. … January Jones and product-placement pro Marsha Levine of A List Entertainment grabbing a bite at Le Pain Quotidien on Melrose. … Craig Ferguson spied with a group of adults and kids at Cafe del Rey in Marina del Rey, ordering beef carpaccio and ricotta gnocchi. … Tobey Maguire, with Indigenous Designs' Matt Reynolds and Scott Leonard, having sandwiches at Norms in WeHo. … Jessica Lange enjoying a business brunch with a colleague at Culina at the Four Seasons Doheny on June 11.