Rarity is balking, Kitty is talking, exec is walking

Reel Life is on vacation and will resume in two weeks. In the meantime, here’s the latest from the ever-popular DEEP DISH column.

FOLLOWING ONE’S ‘INSTINCTS’: Upstart indie mini-major Rarity Films (“If it’s a good film, it’s a Rarity”) denies there’s trouble with its summer release, the erotic thriller “Indecent Instincts.” A studio press rep said: “The director showed a rough cut and we’re thrilled, everybody flipped over it and we’re behind the film 100%. These six weeks of reshooting are just for fine-tuning.”

According to one source, Rarity has added a new character for the reshoots, and hopes to land either Sharon Stone or Jack Nicholson for the role, depending on rewrites. However, not everybody is so upbeat about the pic. “This film is a major clunker, and everybody at Rarity is sweating bullets,” said one executive close to the production who spoke on condition of anonymity. However, DEEP DISH does not believe in anonymous quotes. The speaker was in fact VP of development Kenton Purdue.

FEEDING THE ‘KITTY’: Colossal Studios at one point had 400 projects in development, but by the time new topper Carl LeFong took over, that number had dwindled to 200. So the Smiling Mongoose, as he’s affectionately known, engaged in some major bidding wars. (Hey, Carl, how about a film about a columnist in outer space –“Star Trek: DEEP DISH Nine”? Well, it was just an idea.)

Anyway, thanks to several mentions in this column, the latest subject of bidding frenzy is the big-screen “Hello, Kitty.” The script is described as a buddy-cop pic about a talking cat who witnesses a murder and is put in the care of a gruff-on-the-exterior policeman. Colossal won the auction and Jack Nicholson is reportedly interested in playing the cop. “The studio flipped over the script, we’re thrilled with it and the studio is putting this on the fast track, we’re behind it 100%,” said one insider (actually, the studio’s publicist).

Colossal reportedly paid a record $ 3.75 million, and William Goldman has just been paid a hefty $ ix-figure $ um for rewriting it. “We’re not sure the talking cat idea works,” LeFong said, “so we’re thinking of changing it to a talking dog, but there are already two talking dog pix in development and Sharon Stone has expressed interest in playing the role, so we’ll see.”

RUMORS, RUMORS EVERYWHERE: DEEP DISH hears that Rarity Films’ Kenton Purdue is in contract negotiations and things don’t look good for the development VP. Sources say he’s been too chatty with the press, which is a major no-no with big enchiladas like studio owner Rupert Bare, who couldn’t be reached for comment.

However, “If you want to make an omelette, you have to break a few eggs, and this guy Purdue is toast,” said one source close to negotiations (in actual fact , it was Rupert Bare who said that, but he didn’t want to be quoted on record). When DEEP DISH called, Purdue only said that he’s reviewing his options. “I want to stretch myself creatively,” he averred. “So I’ll either stay here or move on. I might want to do something familiar at first, or I might want to try something new.” Well, Kenton, when you decide, give DEEP DISH a call. Anonymously, if you want.

TOUCHY, TOUCHY: Faxes were humming as indie producer Winnie Shakesby fired off angry letters demanding retractions from the 112 newspapers that printed her remarks that the buddy-cops-in-space film “Major Tom” was “a load of manure that should never have been released.” (For the record, the $ 51 mil sci-fi update of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” stiffed at the B.O.) Shakesby said the remarks, made in a speech at the first annual ShowBiz Writers Expo, were taken out of context and made it seem that she didn’t like the film …

Closer to home, producer Jerry Rigg took exception to DEEP DISH’s item about his exit from the long-delayed buddy-cop musical “Bloomer Girl.” Rigg said that by reporting that the studio took him off the project and replaced him with another producer, DEEP DISH gave the impression he’d been fired. “The studio flipped over my work, they were thrilled and behind me 100%,” Rigg insisted. “They just found another project that was more suited to me,” though he declined to name it. Pic rolls next month, with Jack Nicholson and Sharon Stone toplining.

CASTING A WIDE NET: Brad Pitt joins Martin Sheen, Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez in WB’s big-screen version of “My Three Sons.” Jack Nicholson is reportedly considering the role of Uncle Charley … Meanwhile, Orion’s long-on-the-shelf “I Married Joan — The Movie,” with Geena Davis and John Goodman, has been penciled in for a summer release. And Fox reportedly has “flipped” over footage of its upcoming “Beverly Hillbillies” film, and is already said to be checking into the possibility of turning it into a TV series.

THE DISH RAN AWAY WITH A SWOON: Yes, it’s true, Claudia Eller, Daily Variety film editor and dishy DISH columnist, is descending to — sorry, descending upon — the L.A. Times. This move, seemingly inexplicable, actually answers two questions: why Madame E. has been carting around that book “How to Overcome Your Shyness,” and why the Times recently bought out hundreds of its employees. One source at the paper — we don’t want to mention John Lindsay by name — said that this cost-cutting measure was made to offset the expenses involved with the arrival of the Ellmeister, such as the installation of new industrial-strength telephones, and the re-soundproofing of the third floor. As for the rumors about her replacement at Daily Variety, the front-runners are said to be Jack Nicholson and Sharon Stone.

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