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‘SHOWGIRLS’ STAR CAUGHT IN RIPTIDE

As “Showgirls” goes down as one of the worst cinematic misfires in recent history, there has been much discussion in Hollywood over the career prospects of Elizabeth Berkley, who came out of nowhere to play the starring role in the raunchy film, only to get reviews comparable to those Sofia Coppola received when chosen by her father, director Francis Ford Coppola, to replace Winona Ryder as the don’s daughter in “The Godfather, Part III.” The prevalent opinion in Hollywood was that Berkley was hardly ready to carry a film, and that “Showgirls” could dampen her future prospects.

Berkley made a tempestuous exit from her talent agency, Creative Artists Agency, and, after spending the last week meeting with ICM, William Morris and United Talent Agency, landed with the latter.

There are conflicting stories of her CAA sayonara. Some say the agency dropped a high-maintenance client because she wanted to deal only with primary agent Mike Menchel and no one else. Others say she was understandably upset that she had no followup job in place before “Showgirls” opened to heinous reviews.

Berkley left Metropolitan Talent Agency to join CAA after she got the “Showgirls” role, and CAA dropped her just as bad word of mouth on the movie started to circulate. Her co-star, Gina Gershon, already at UTA, got the starring role in another Joe Eszterhas-scripted film, “Original Sin,” which is being produced by Morgan Creek, but Berkley’s still looking for her next film.

Some have opined that the veteran “Showgirls” filmmakers shouldn’t have left Berkley standing naked in more ways than one. Eszterhas, for one, feels Berkley deserves better: “An actor is only as good as her writer and director. Elizabeth shouldn’t be blamed for this. She was hostage to my characters and lines of dialogue and the performance that Paul elicited from her.”

Eszterhas has “Foreplay” at Savoy, and said he’s suggested Berkley to producer Frank Price for a lead role calling for a 20-year-old rock star. “I think she’d be terrific,” said Eszterhas.

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