Short Takes

Suzy Amis (“Rich in Love”) joins previously announced Jeff Bridges and Tommy Lee Jones in the MGM action-thriller “Blown Away.”

Principal photography begins Monday in Boston. Director is Stephen Hopkins. Joe Batteer and John Rice wrote the screenplay.

Producers are John Watson, Pen Densham and Richard Lewis. Exec producer is Lloyd Segan.

The fifth annual Sarasota French Film Festival has been scheduled for Nov. 10 -14. Critic/author Molly Haskell serves as this year’s artistic director.

Fest celebrates French cinema and will offer U.S. and world premieres of some 20 films.

LeVar Burton, co-star of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” will be in the ensemble cast of “Private Lives,” the second Showtimeimprovisational feature produced and directed by Linda Yellen under the auspices of Sundance Film Institute. The first pic, “Chantilly Lace,” aired last month.

“Lives” will focus on a group of people who belonged to the same fraternities and sororities in college and meet at an alumni weekend.

Fox West Pictures, which has stated its desire not to participate in the race for fact-based movies, will produce “The Dennis Byrd Story,” the true story of the New York Jets football player’s battle against total paralysis. The movie is based on the book “Rise & Walk: The Trial & Triumph of Dennis Byrd,” by Byrd and Michael D’Orso.

In a Pink Panther cross-promotion deal, MGM/UA Home Video’s “Think Pink” will be featured in instructional manuals of TecMagik “Pink Goes to Hollywood” vidgames, which in turn will be promoted in MGM/UA 30-second spots.

FoxVideo has entered into a long-term agreement giving Rentrak Corp. rights to distribute FoxVideo titles on revenue-sharing terms through its pay-per-transaction program to vid retailers throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Deal is contingent on Rentrak launching operations in these countries.

For what it’s worth, surveys of both Promax Intl., the trade marketing organization, and U., the National College Magazine, give David Letterman the edge in his new CBS talkshow vs. “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” Letterman’s “Late Show” preems Aug. 30.

The Television Bureau of Advertising and the Retail Advertising and Marketing Assn. have formed the Television Retail Advisory Committee, with plans for a Sept. 23 seminar followed by a January meeting at the Retail Advertising Convention in Chicago.

A first workshop was held last month in Telluride, Colo., where the groups also agreed to explore opportunities in interactive TV.

“Friend Harry,” by Joseph J. Wheeler, won the Nevada Motion Picture Division’s annual screenplay contest, defeating a record number of entries.

Judge Sara Margoshes, a literary agent from Amsel, Eisenstadt & Frazier, called it “a very commercial action-road picture.”

MCA/Universal Home Video will release three new titles on videocassettes on Oct. 20: the Burt Reynolds-starrer “Cop and a Half,””Super Force,” starring JoBeth Williams and Anthony John Denison, and “Sex, Love and Cold Hard Cash,” also starring Denison.

Norm Crosby and Pauly Shore host seven hours of Comedy Store shows Sept. 5-6, portions of which will air live during Jerry Lewis’ Muscular Dystrophy Assn. Labor Day telethon.

Skedded comedians include Jeff Altman, Lenny Clarke, John Caponera, John Roarke, John Mulrooney and Dom Irerra.

Joan Hyler, William Morris Agency senior VP, will be guest speaker at the Women in Film exec luncheon, 11:30 a.m. Sept. 9 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. Information: (213) 463-6040.

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