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‘Scarlet’ cast sees red over bad reviews

GOOD MORNING: “The Scarlet Pimpernel” director Peter Hunt summoned the cast of the newly opened musical onstage at the Minskoff at 7 p.m. Tuesday night, all the reviews having been printed and aired. The show’s players were then met by producers Pierre Cossette and Kathleen Raitt. It was Cossette who spoke: “They cheered us here, they cheered us there. They cheered us everywhere. As Shakespeare said, ‘This too shall pass.’ And the New York Times can kiss my ASS!” A roar went up from the troupe which went backstage buoyed for the night’s performance. The NYT’s review (by Ben Brantley ) was definitely negative. And Daily Variety‘s review by Greg Evans opened with, “Seek him here, seek him there, just don’t expect to really care.” But the TV reviews were a positive counter-punch to these and a full page ad (cost: $75,000) in Tuesday’s NYT generously excerpted positive quotes. Further, the producers inserted a CD with three “Scarlet” tunes in every copy (350,000) of the Tuesday edition of the Times delivered in New York City. Cossette said it cost $400,000 — and had been ordered four weeks in advance of the opening — and reviews, natch. He further reminded the “Pimpernel” players that his “Will Rogers Follies” had opened to negative reviews — and went on to be a big Tony winner (plus traveling companies). Another producer, Bill Haber, here for a meeting as a member of the Spelling board of directors, reported “Scarlet” had taken in $100,000 at the box office on Monday … At the N.Y. preem for HBO’s “Don King: Only in America,” a once-in-a-lifetime accident — a gear in the projector broke 10 minutes into the screening. HBO Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes humored the audience which waited for 70 minutes for a replacement part. The preemgoers included Gerald Levin, chairman of Time Warner, as well as the cast. Director John Herzfeld told the patient group, “Don King got back at us — he paid off someone in the projectionist’s booth.” Seriously, folks, Herzfeld said he’s sending a tape to King — who might not be watching the replay of the Holyfield-Moore fight which airs Saturday on Showtime, same time as the HBO “King” airs on HBO with Ving Rhames doing the remarkable portrayal of King.

VIDEOS LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN before have been added by some of the sensaysh performers who contributed to “A Very Special Christmas 3” to benefit the Special Olympics. F’rinstance, No Doubt, while in India, taped their tune, “Oi to the World.” Also video’d is “Santa Baby” by Reverend Run & the Christmas All Stars (Mase, Puff Daddy, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Salt-n-Pepa, Onyx, Keith Murray). The CD boasts originals as well as classics in an inimitable style, the latter group including “Ave Maria” and “The Christmas Song.” Sheryl Crow does “Blue Christmas.” The album was produced by Bobby Shriver, Al Cafaro and Lind Feder. Add supermodels Helena Christensen and Tatjana Patitz who also volunteered and danced to tunes from the CD for a p.s.a. Everyone donated services and materials to make the blurb that will air around the U.S. and Canada for the Special Olympics … Tony Roberts, now here at the South Coast Repertory Second Stage starring in Stuart Flack’s “Sidney Bechet Killed a Man” (“a commanding performance,” said Daily Variety‘s Julio Martinez), returns to B’way to co-star with Ron Leibman in “Mazlansky/Zilansky,” a comedy by Jon Robin Baitz about two down-and-out movie producers. Before heading here and the stage, the versatile Roberts wound two feature films, “Dead Broke” and “Surprise.”

AFTER GLOBE-CIRCLING for locations on “The Jackal,” director Michael Caton-Jones is now taking off for China. He says “It’s to get as far away as I can from Hollywood — and movies — for a while.” He completed “The Jackal” only a couple of weeks ago. Although he had it ready for summer, Universal wanted more test screenings and he says he lost “a couple of subplots.” Meanwhile, he and Laura Viderman will ready “Like Being Killed” by Ellen Miller as the first for their new banner, Good Looking Pictures. It will shoot on N.Y.’s Lower East Side. Jones says he is always “fiscally conscious about his movies.” And he said Universal never said he was going over budget. “I didn’t know what it was,” he says. He was getting congrats at Monday night’s preem at the Acad, as were cast members Bruce Willis (there with wife Demi Moore). Diane Venora and Tess Harper toasted in the post-party cooked up by Along Came Mary … “Starship Troopers’ ” Michael Ironside segues from “Bang” to re-create his “ER” role as Dr. William Swift … And Clancy Brown joins “ER” for eight segs as “Dr. Ellis West,” the romantic interest for Dr. Kerry Weaver (played by Laura Innes) … In the UPN “Sparks” safe sex-themed seg taping this week, Miguel Nunez Jr.’s character is asked by Robin Givens to have a blood test. Miguel and the cast are planning a fundraiser for AIDS and exec producer Bill Moloney donated his salary from the seg to the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

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