New Line nixes ‘Town’ meeting

No glitzy preem for troubled $90 mil pic

NEW YORK — When New Line Cinema’s “Town & Country” unspools on 2,200 screens nationwide on Friday, it will do so without the usual ritual of a premiere screening and party.

The studio says stars Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton are working on projects and hence are unavailable for an official preem. “The reason there is no premiere is talent availability,” said a New Line rep, dogmatically. Who can dispute it?

But why is Hawn available to host a small screening Thursday to benefit her charity Rent a Smile? The NL rep was tight-lipped about where that screening will be held and who will attend.

Seldom is talent unavailable for a pic a studio has sunk $90 million into. Talent makes itself available, even in times of pre-strike hysteria.

“We have been spending a good amount of money to open the movie,” a New Line source said of the studio’s marketing campaign. “We are spending what you would normally spend. We don’t expect this to be an embarrassment. There’s nothing that is going to stop people from going to see the movie.”

But the question remains: Will enough of them go see it?

New Line does not seem to be banking on the media to promote the film. Although the finished print has been available for two weeks, most of the media will only get to see it on Wednesday — a mere two days before it opens nationwide. Invitations to those three Wednesday shows have been scarce, and many media members have been told there isn’t room for a guest.

The studio says it let some of the journalists writing actor profiles watch the film last week.

Studio scapegoat

New Line used “Town and Country,” not to mention “Little Nicky,” as part of its rationale for firing the filmmaker-friendly Michael De Luca. So why is the company acting as though it’s doing nothing unusual with the Warren Beatty starrer that, several years and roughly $90 million later, has caused everyone so many headaches?

For most of the country that sees television spots promoting the film, “Town and Country” is a piece of Hollywood product they will either see, wait to see on video or pass on altogether. But for insiders, word of the troubled pic has spread like wildfire. The New York Times recently weighed in with an in-depth examination of the pic’s travails. The headline: “Stumbling Toward a Theater Near You.”

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