Davis, Harlin stay attached to their work, romance

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS make movies, as they say in this industry town.

Take the case of currently betrothed lovers Geena Davis and Renny Harlin. Apart from mutual affection, they share a professional penchant for attachment. Davis knows no rival in the acting field when it comes to hitching herself to a project. The list of possible future film roles on her slate is toooooo long to publish.

The Finnish-born Harlin is no slouch either, having quickly adapted to American movie-making ways of setting up several projects before his latest film is released. In this fickle land that’s just sane and sensible.

So, romance aside, these two were destined to work together.

Scuttlebutt has them linked on the foundering “Mistress of the Seas,” a femme pirate picture in need of a life raft.

But keep your eyes on “The Fly III” over at Fox. Davis, who starred in the original with ex-hubby Jeff Goldblum, will produce with Brooksfilms. The script being written by Richard Jeffries will feature Davis but focus on her twin deadly spawn from the first episode.

“This was all Geena’s idea,” says Mel Brooks. “It just came full blown from her head and it’s terrific.” It should begin this fall.

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS II: When producer Rob Fried left Orion and struck out on his own, the first property he acquired was “So I Married an Axe Murderer.” That was six years ago. Subsequently, it was in development at Columbia, then TriStar. At various times the film was about to go with Chevy Chase and, later, Sharon Stone before the casting of Mike Myers and Nancy Travis.

Travis just happens to be Fried’s significant other and while he says she was ideal for the role, he had cold feet about the prospect of working together professionally. Besides, he wasn’t sure the studio would approve the actress.

So, he cast Stone. But that actress’s instinct jumped elsewhere just before filming. Director Thomas Schlamme read Travis and told the producer he wanted her for the lead.

“I told him I was nervous,” Fried says. But Schlamme, who’s narried to Christine Lahti, told him not to worry. He insisted she was right and that they’d learn something valuable about their off-screen relationship.

“This is a film about the fear of commitment. It’s turned into a kind of self-portrait taken to a bizarre extreme,” Fried notes. “We survived, it was cathartic and I proposed last week. How’s that for therapy.”

P.S.: Travis accepted and the wedding will be next May.

THERE’S PERHAPS no more apt movie title than “Smoke and Mirrors.”

Last week scribes had consigned the period adventure with Sean Connery to development ether. The actor was out, as was director Frank Marshall and the entire project was tumbling faster than a house of cards.

But sources close to the production tell a different tale.

Connery hadn’t left the project — a fictional saga about quelling a 19th century North African uprising by real life illusionist Robert-Houdin — he just wanted to postpone from November to next May. That knocked Marshall out of the box and did the same for plans to approach Tom Cruise for the second role of an American in the French Foreign legion.

The Cruise factor was also in need of a script rewrite to beef up the role.

Cinergi’s Andy Vajna had hoped to have new elements in play when the news broke. An offer to Mel Gibson was being mulled but now the most likely candidate is Michael Douglas. There’s also the possibility that if things coalesce quickly , Paul Verhoeven will be directing the action.

However, a better prospect is Adrian Lyne who’s already linked with Douglas in the upcoming adaptation of “Lolita.”

MORGAN CREEK’S “Indian Summer” is getting more than a title change before its fall start date. The thriller, to be directed by Bruce Beresford, centers on a criminal psychologist working with an autistic child who witnessed the brutal murder of his or her parents. In its current incarnation the youngster has become a girl.

At one time the part of the investigator — a talented man with a history of cracking under pressure — was to be played by Harrison Ford. But with the actor set for the third Jack Ryan opus, “Clear and Present Danger,” the producers have gone on to the only logical replacement. That’s right, Robin Williams.

AND NOW TWO WORDS about Hollywood executive suite humor — forget it!

Director John Badham has a penchant for tossing in the names of studios exex in his movies. You probably haven’t noticed because the references usually get deep-sixed.

In “Stakeout” he shot a scene with the “Katzenberg baby” with accompanying dialogue about how much Jeffrey looked like his father. He was told “nice try, cut it” by Katzenberg himself.

Similarly, Tom Pollock vetoed a like-named reference in “Bird on a Wire.”

So, he was a little bit surprised when his “Sunday afternoon joke” wound up in “Another Stakeout.” The quip centers on the house being used, which belongs to Judge Hoberman. Upon hearing this the cop heroes say, “you mean Maximum Dave.”

“I expected to get a call about it,” says Badham, who’s in rehearsals for “An Inspector Calls” at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. “I was told Disney employees were howling at the scene when it was screened at the studio. I guess David thinks it’s amusing because he’s a neighbor and has never mentioned it.”

“I guess it was more a cost issue for me,” says the Touchstone prexy. “The exchange wasn’t in the script, so I didn’t see it until dailies. I thought it was cute and not worth the hassle of ordering a reshoot. And my ego could take it.”

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