Hollywood Pictures’ “Smoke and Mirrors,” the megabudget magician movie that fell apart when Sean Connery and director Frank Marshall did disappearing acts, is magically coming back together again.
Cinergi’s Andy Vajna, not wanting to waste an almost $ 2 million investment and a promising script by Lee and Janet Batchler, may yet pull a rabbit out of his hat. Most importantly, Connery is in talks to return to the starring role of the master French magician sent to colonize an African country by using illusion and magic tricks. In addition, Mel Gibson is seriously considering taking the main supporting role.
All of this hinges on the director, of course. They’re reportedly focusing on three possibilities: Andy Davis of “The Fugitive,” Wolfgang Petersen of “In the Line of Fire” and Ridley Scott of “Thelma and Louise.” It all depends on whose schedule is open.
SCORSESE STORMS: Following “The Age of Innocence,” Martin Scorsese is being lobbied to direct everything from “Clockers” to “The Gangs of New York.”
DISH hears he’s close to committing to “Oceans of Storm,” the astronaut love story to star and be produced by Warren Beatty, with a story by Tony Bill and Ben Mason.
Beatty has been seriously romancing the director, and now, the key question is which studio gets it. Sources say Fox and Universal are the two prime contenders, but Universal has the edge: Scorsese owes his next movie to U, which has him under an exclusive deal and just allowed Scorsese to do his labor of love –“The Age of Innocence”– at Columbia. The studio’s unlikely to be in the mood to let him work elsewhere again.
SONY CODE: Things couldn’t have gone worse in Sony’s handling of the Heidi Fleiss scandal, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they chose a phallic reference for a code name to refer to the scandal.
DISH hears the in-house code name is “Tower.” But its origins are quite innocent, and not, as some might suspect, because Fleiss lives on Tower Grove Road. Actually, it came from the famed West L.A. deli Junior’s, where execs ordered sandwiches while trying to figure out how to deal with the Fleiss mess. The slogan at Junior’s is: “We tower above the rest.” Sony declined comment.
SEIN OF THE TIMES: Thankfully, Washington, D.C.’s, morality play on the TV biz isn’t having much of an effect on TV’s critical fave sitcom, “Seinfeld.” Last season, co-creators Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David did a now-legendary episode devoted to masturbation. DISH hears one of the first fall episodes will be devoted to the orgasm. To complete the trilogy, might there be a future episode devoted to the post-coital cigarette?
ARE WE MEN or are we mice? That’s the question Mickey Mouse boss Jeffrey Katzenberg is asking a select few Tinseltown titans as he again issues invites for a few days of male bonding and white-water rafting on the Colorado River in early September. The invite creates a quandary: Everybody wants to be on the power list, but these guys live for deals, not danger.
The river’s rough and, particularly on Crystal Rapids and Lava Falls, the rafts often capsize. But who can turn down a personal invite from the all-powerful Jeffrey?
Anyway, DISH hears the chosen few will include ICM’s Bill Block and Jim Wiatt, attorney Jake Bloom, UTA’s Jim Berkus, “Dragon” director Rob Cohen, New Regency head Steve Reuther, Tony Danza, Brillstein/Grey’s Brad Grey, Hollywood Pictures chief Ricardo Mestres, CAA’s Mike Menchel and John Ptak, William Morris’ Arnold Rifkin, “Home Improvement” creator Matt Williams and his star, Tim Allen.
Since the rafts are bereft of females, DISH proposes setting up a rival fleet with Par’s Sherry Lansing, Col’s Lisa Henson, Dawn Steel, ICM’s Elaine Goldsmith , William Morris’ Joan Hyler, Nora Ephron, producers Paula Wagner, Paula Weinstein and Denise DiNovi, and Roseanne Barr. Ten bucks says they beat the macho men down the river.
TOOL TIFF: Maybe Jeffrey Katzenberg had better place “Home Improvement’s” Tim Allen on the other side of the raft. Allen is hardly a happy camper after a Disney merchandising effort derailed an endorsement deal for Allen worth more than $ 8 million over four years. Allen has been the principal spokesman for the hardware superstore chain Builder’s Square, and has been working on a contract extension. Unbeknownst to Allen, Disney made a “Home Improvement” merchandising deal with Cooper Tools, a low-priced line of hand tools. As Builder’s Square execs walked through the annual National Hardware Convention in Chicago, they happened upon Cooper’s display, featuring the smiling faces of the entire “Home Improvement” clan.
Since the store chain doesn’t even carry Cooper products, the execs looked like they’d been hit by a Cooper claw hammer. Then they pulled Allen’s deal off the table, DISH hears. Allen and his managers have been threatening to sue Disney, and the Mouse has to decide whether to make up the money, cancel the Cooperdeal or risk alienating its franchise tube star. Disney wouldn’t comment.
FAST FASANO: Is any scribe busier right now than John Fasano? He turned 32 Wednesday, and has had little time to celebrate because he’s been writing his tail off.
Fasano, whose spurt occurred after a switch from ICM to William Morris, just finished scripting “Die Hard III” for Cinergi, is starting the feature version of “Hawaii Five-O” for Hollywood Pictures, just sold a TV series entitled “Posse” to Fox with Gary Adelson and Craig Baumgarten producing, and just rewrote “Tombstone” and “Smoke and Mirrors,” the latter two as part of his new overall script doctoring deal at Cinergi.