Robert Altman, who last week won the best-director prize at the Cannes Film Festival -- where his "The Player" also won Tim Robbins a best-actor nod -- has lined up financing for two new projects. One, "L.A. Short Cuts," is an intertwining of several Raymond Carver short stories; "Player" alums Peter Gallagher, Andie MacDowell, Jack Lemmon, Lily Tomlin and Lyle Lovett are committed to the film, as is Jeff Daniels.
The other, "Pret a Porter, will be the director's take on the fashion industry. To be shot next spring during and immediately after the Paris "shows," Mr. Altman will deploy "The Player's" strategy of mixing real-life notables with actors-as-characters. Except this time, instead of Hollywood's movers and shakers, he'll be zooming in on top designers and supermodels. "It's 'Nashville' and 'The Player' on the runway," says Mr. Altman.
The folks at Muppet Central have begun work on the fourth feature to star the late Jim Henson's creations. Disney will distribute "A Muppet Christmas Carol," starring Michael Caine as Scrooge, this holiday season . . . John Sayles is editing his "City of Hope" follow-up, an as-yet-untitled comedy shot in Louisiana and starring Mary McDonnell and Alfre Woodward. . . . English guitarist and singer-songwriter Richard Thompson's first soundtrack work, for an Australian-American co-production called "Sweet Talker," has just been released. The disc, from Capitol Records, includes several new Thompson songs and instrumental tracks. The film, which stars Bryan Brown and Karen Allen, was released in a few Stateside markets last year . . . Marcel Carne, the 83-year-old French filmmaker responsible for the classic "Children of Paradise," has announced his first project in more than 20 years: "Mouche," an adaptation of a Guy de Maupassant story, to star 16-year-old unknown Virginie Ledoyen