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Sequel hopes to catch ‘Fugitive’s’ appeal

GOOD MORNING: How does a sequel top its original? To be more specific, how is the spectacular train crash scene of “The Fugitive” topped in the spin-off, “U.S. Marshals”? Answer: with a spectacular plane crash in its opening scene — “a very expensive opening scene,” producer Arnold Kopelson admitted. He was in L.A. Thursday to view Costa-Gavras’ director’s cut on “Mad City,” (starring Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta) and Arnold returns to Chi today where “Marshals” is shooting. “City” gets a Nov. release, as does the Kopelsons’ “Devil’s Advocate” starring Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves. All are from the Kopelsons’ now-ending WB pact. Their Fox releases start with “Most Wanted,” followed by “Heartbreaker” and then “Seven Day Soldier,” for which they’re writing a comedy-action role for Arnold Schwarzenegger (reteaming with the Kopelsons after “Eraser”). … As in the original “Fugitive,” sequel “Marshals” will have no romance for leads Tommy Lee Jones and Wesley Snipes, although Kate Nelligan is Jones’ boss and LaTanya Richardson is Snipes’ g.f. “There’s no room for romance in these movies,” said Kopelson. He had to break the news to Julianne Moore, on the eve of starting “Fugitive” that her romantic role had to be cut. (She went on to chasing dinos in “Lost World.”) Kopelson said he was “surprised” that Snipes is doing a TV’er, ABC’s “Futuresport,” which is filming this summer. (Snipes is also an exec producer.) “He gets a whole bunch of money (for movies),” said Arnold, who says he doesn’t think Snipes’ small-screen appearance in advance of “Marshals” will hurt the bigscreen’er’s bizness. “Nowadays stars go back and forth between the two.”

ALTHOUGH CBS DID NOT RENEW the Peter Strauss-starring series, “Moloney,” they continue in bizness together in a four-hour mini, “Love on the Land,” in which Strauss stars and also exec produces. The Americana saga (1870-1910 in Ohio) is based on George Dell’s book, “The Earth Abideth.” Scripter is Joe Weisenfeld, who wrote “The Yearling” for Strauss three years ago. Rachel Ward co-stars. … Connie Stevens and her family are busy in all phases of the biz: Connie’s starring in the “Head Over Heels” UPN sitcom, as the mother of Peter Dobson and Mitchell Whitfield, who run a dating service. Daughter Joely Fisher, on hiatus from “Ellen,” will star in “In the Company of Angels,” for which Joely’s husband Chris Duddy is d.p. and sister Tricia Leigh F. will write the title song. Connie’s also busy in post-production on her lengthy docu, “A Healing” (about Vietnam), which bows at the Toronto Film Fest this Fall and goes out theatrically in L.A., N.Y. and D.C. Stevens, who has raised funds for 93 education scholarships for Native Americans, learned that her first scholarship winner graduated to become one of the engineers who built the N.Y. high-rise in which Connie just bought an apartment! … The Sovereign Dineh (Navajo) Nation benefits tonight at Pasadena’s Loft, where a cast of Native American thesps and musicians perform to benefit the Navajo Nation members who have been forcibly evicted from their ancestral home in Arizona. … Victoria Principal segued from CBS’ “Love in Another Town” in Vancouver to Miami for Canal-Plus’ mainly French-language “Michael Kael in Katingo.” Principals William Atherton and Elliott Gould speak English in the pic, with their dialog to be subtitled in French. Benoit Delphine stars, but he speaks French, natch.

MARGARET WHITING GETS THREE DAYS off “Dream” on B’way to appear in a tribute to Johnny Mercer’s music at UCLA, Saturday. (She is president of the Johnny Mercer Foundation.) Also performing is singer-songwriter Steven Lutvak, the first winner of the Mercer Emerging Songwriter award. Also on the bill: Alan Bergman, Amanda McBroom and Craig Carnelia. … The Mamas & the Papas saga, “California Dreamin,’ ” written by Michelle Phillips, is being readied for the bigscreen, with Robin Aiello writing the screenplay, Phillips producing and Lee Grant directing. No, Bruce Willis will not be in it, laughs Grant, who says the “Broadway Brawler” fiasco has been settled and she, as well as husband-producer Joe Feury are being paid their due. The Feurys are now readying their docu on woman’s breast cancer. … N.Y.’s Village Gate will be the setting Wednesday for the all-star party toasting Art Garfunkel on the release of his double-CD, “Across America” (Hybrid) and “Songs From a Parent to a Child” (Sony). “America” was recorded on Ellis Island after Garfunkel completed his cross-country walk (12 years). … U2’s Bono tells “Access Hollywood” he got a congrat note from Frank Sinatra on Bono’s “Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad” tune, which he wrote in tribute to F.S. Robert Urich is toasted tonight at the BevWilshire gala of the John Wayne Cancer Institute’s “Casino Night”. … Judy Garland’s 75th birthday is toasted Tuesday at Arbuckle’s with a cabaret show through June 21: Julie Sheppard in “Judy Garland a Night in the Life.”

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