East meets West in new Planet H’wood

GOOD MORNING FROM HONG KONG: East is east and West is west — and the twain have met here. Asia’s top star Jackie Chan and movie producer/theater owner Raymond Chow and tycoon T.S. Ong weekended with Hollywood stars including Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Don Johnson, Steven Seagal, Jim Belushi, Charlie Sheen, Patrick Swayze, Danny Glover, Jean-Claude Van Damme, David Hasselhoff and Dolph Lundgren plus producers Keith Barish and Robert Earl. It was, of course, for the opening of the first Far East Planet Hollywood. It was like the opening of the gateway to the East judging by the front page’d, full-streets welcome for the Western contingent … As in London, D.C., and Chicago, the major thoroughfares of Hong Kong were shut to traffic for the Sunday night bow of the eatery in a former movie theater. Thousands of people lined the streets for blocks behind barricades manned by dozens of police. Stallone arrived in a rickshaw drawn by four women (!), reaching past the barricades to greet fans … Don Johnson was prevented from his usual one-on-ones with the mobs — because of a death threat, two bodyguards were always close by. He had brought his 11-year-old son along on the trip — Melanie Griffith was home with their other kids … Talk was inevitable that Jackie Chan should team with at least one of the top Westerners on hand, and Stallone told me they had discussed the possibility of working together.

EVERYBODY’S TALKING today about the resignation of six veteran reporters who quit in protest over ATV’s decision not to air a newsmag seg that contained film that “seemed to support” the official Chinese government position that no one was killled when the army quashed the rebellion in Tiananmen Square. The atmosphere is tense these days as the fifth anniversary of the June 4 massacre approaches. There was an enormous sit-down demonstration in Hong Kong Sunday afternoon, with thousands of young people blocking streets. They were a far cry from the thousands of youngsters across the bay in Kowloon, on Canton Road, awaiting the arrival of Hollywood stars … All talk, of course, eventually turns to 1997 — when Hong Kong reverts to China. Coincidentally, Jackie Chan’s next movie for Raymond Chow is “Airport 1997.” The story takes place before and after the June 1997 transfer. Raymond Chow described it to me as having “a nice touch of ‘Casablanca.’ ” Chan had flown in from the location of his current movie for Chow, “Rumble in the Bronx.” Exteriors will be filmed in New York after Vancouver interiors … T.S. Ong was trying to talk the Hollywood stars into signing deals with Chow … Jackie Chan is most unassuming. He told me, “I may be Number One in Asia but in the U.S. — ?” He is improving his English, and in “Rumble In the Bronx” he will speak some English while most of the movie is in Chinese. … Raymond Chow, who owns theaters in Hong Kong and leases others, also books 50% of the theaters in Hong Kong and is beginning to do the same in China. But, he reminds, it’s still under government control. Chow is among those trying to institute copyright protection. He is working to establish copyright certification to prevent piracy by non-producers. “Pirates just register our films in their names,” said Chow. “Certification is the first step,” he says. “Enforcement is the problem. Importation is under state control –and revenue sharing has never been done before,” Chow reminded. Mike Connors, senior veep in Asia/Pacific for the Motion Picture Export Association of America, also told me, “Copyright protection is the biggest issue”… On hand from the Bangkok location of “Street Fighter” was Ming-Na Wen, who said she’d been in training for months to co-star with Jean-Claude Van Damme. Also on hand was TriStar’s senior veep of production, Christopher Paul Lee, en route to Beijing with thesp Da Ming Chen — visiting his birthplace.

BRUCE WILLIS TOLD ME he was never so moved as during his Seoul, South Korea, visit just prior to Hong Kong. He and his band had performed for troops, and the brass was so appreciative they showed him the true state of affairs there. “This was more tense than any movie I’ve ever been in,” Bruce said, describing to me the readiness state at the border. Willis had excitement of his own at the groundbreaking for the Seoul Planet H. when pyrotechnics set a fire on the stand directly behind him. Willis put it out himself — just like in the movies. His next pic, “Die Hard III” found a location for his derring-do in a New Jersey tunnel, he reported. He’ll drive a truck through it with explosions to follow. Willis was also still enjoying the Palme d’Or win of “Pulp Fiction” in Cannes. And it looks like the pic’s U.S. release will be delayed until later this year to give it a better shot at Oscars. Meanwhile, Willis’ “Color of Night” will get an earlier release.

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