Miramax nabs HBO’s ‘Norma’

GOOD MORNING: Whatever Harvey wants, Miramax gets. This time it’s HBO’s “Norma Jean and Marilyn,” for which Miramax Intl. acquired all rights outside the U.S. and Canada. Charles Schrager, VP of HBO Enterprises, says Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein “was aggressive about (getting) themovie before it was ready to be aired. He called constantly. He was like an animal — tenacious. We didn’t want to show it to him until it was ready on 35mm film. He made a deal in five minutes — all rights, theatrical, airlines, TV, homevideo, etc.” Robert Cooper, president of HBO Pictures, added, “It’s a continuation of our attempt to position our movies as major motion picture films.” Since 1991, more than 15 HBO Pictures movies have been theatrically released overseas after their U.S. TV premieres. Among the distribs were Rysher and Odyssey. Rick Sands, president of Miramax Intl., said, “We will give it a full theatrical release, using the Deauville and Venice film festivals as high profile launching venues for the early fall. This is the first TV feature Miramax Intl. has felt has all the elements of a powerful and extremely commercial feature — especially considering the universal attraction of the Marilyn Monroe legend. We are treating this no differently than we’d treat any major feature we produced on our own.” In its first HBO airing May 18, “Norma Jean and Marilyn” won the night among viewers in the HBO universe, and four repeats are upcoming in the next few weeks. Miramax has a warm spot in its heart for the co-stars — Mira Sorvino won an Oscar for her performance in Miramax’s “Mighty Aphrodite” and Ashley Judd is in their “Smoke.”

“JOHN WAYNE TOLD ME, ‘Never rape a woman or get killed (in a movie),’ ” Burt Reynolds said to me Thursday as he wound looping the new ending for “Striptease” in Miami. Reynolds, sounding like his old self, was in a happy mood, said, “It was very flattering — the preview cards went through the roof — until the ending — they liked me so much but couldn’t stand seeing me try to rape Demi Moore — and with a knife at her throat! The audience felt betrayed.” So what does the new ending (filmed last week) show? “Now, I just grab her — and she looks at me and smiles — saying ‘I’ve been waiting for this!’ You know what’s going to happen. (And it isn’t rape) The expression on my face is like — well, it’s Christmas and I come downstairs and Angie Dickinson is sitting under the tree!” Reynolds said the reunion of the “Striptease” cast for the final scene was very interesting — the last time they worked together was Dec. 19 –“now some are fatter, thinner, different color hair — and we came from all over, Armand Assante from Canada, I from San Diego where I was shooting ‘Raven.’ ” In “Raven” Reynolds plays a Navy Seal. One of the Navy told him, “You’re in great shape for 45.” “But I’m 60!” Reynolds admitted. And talking Seals, of course Demi Moore plays one in “G.I. Jane.” “And I know she’s in good shape,” added Reynolds. He has yet to meet Moore’s hubbie, Bruce Willis, but they spoke on the phone and Bruce told Burt, “I’m glad you’re doing those scenes with her — you’re a gentleman.” “I’m hanging up on you,” roared Reynolds. With the word out on his performance in “Striptease,” Reynolds said, “I’m getting all kinds of offers. I couldn’t be happier.” He took the “Striptease” role for $350,000. His price goes back to million-plus again. But he’ll still do fun (lower-paying) jobs like HBO’s “The Cherokee Kid” for pal Sinbad, and Reynolds is proud to be asked to participate in the PBS Memorial Day special from Washington with Charles Durning , Kenny Rogers, Ossie Davis, etc., and he will read “Casey at the Bat” with the Cincy Pops June 10 — and of course attend the “Striptease” sendoff in N.Y.

JIMMY WOODS NIXED ATTEMPTS to get him to visit Byron de la Beckwith, whom Woods portrays in Rob Reiner’s “Untitled Mississippi Project” for Castle Rock, when the company was shooting in front of the Hinds County Jail in Jackson, Miss., where Beckwith is serving a life sentence for the murder of Medgar Evers. “I won’t dignify his existence,” said Woods. “He shot a man in the back in front of his children. I don’t want to breathe the same air he breathes.” Woods said he just wants to show how abominably ugly the face of hatred is. Woods’ face is considerably camouflaged with movie makeup magic to play the role of the 74 -year-old Beckwith. Whoopi Goldberg and Alec Baldwin co-star with Woods who is adding yet another memorable performance of a hateful character. He recently wound “Killer: A Journal of Murder,” playing a reprobate killer …”ER’s” Anthony Edwards stars in Robert Halmi’s TV’d “In Cold Blood”… Mariette Hartley , who just wound “Snitch” with Marlee Matlin, cohosts Jerry Lewis’ Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, Labor Day. She then heads out on a 30-week national tour of “Death Trap” with Elliott Gould … Daily Grill alumnus Allan Ludwig is director of food and beverage at Pacific Park (just up the beach from the site of the old POP pier) which previewed Thursday with a big bow planned for next month. Ludwig has eight food concept booths — no franchises — on the pier … Sympathies to Phyllis Diller whose longtime (10 years) companion, attorney-socialite Robert P. Hastings, died in his sleep at home in Pasadena, Thursday. A memorial sevice will be held June 4 at Pasadena’s Episcopal Church.

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