H’wood is dashin’ for ‘Passion’ clones

HOLLYWOOD “The Passion of the Christ” raises troubling questions. No, not theological ones — this is Hollywood, after all — but creative ones.

Mel Gibson has stated that he wants no extras on the DVD. But is it fair to deprive viewers of deleted scenes and the ever-popular outtakes, with actors reduced to helpless giggles as they flub their Latin lines?

There’s another niggling issue. Hollywood has a reputation for shamelessly jumping on the bandwagon — witness the plans for all the post-“Gladiator” toga epics and the neo-“Lord of the Rings” fantasy trilogies — but how can one emulate (i.e., rip off) the “Passion” fashion?

A few months ago, Hollywood execs looked at the firestorm surrounding the pic and agreed that it’s waaaaaay too touchy to make religious films. But after the film’s record-breaking box office, the majors are trying to figure out how they, too, can lure in the Passionistas.

Here are a few suggested ways to tap into that market:

  • “The Scourging of SpongeBob SquarePants”: Some will fear that the message of love and happiness might get lost in this extremely violent toon. The film includes a stomach-churning sequence in which crustaceans brutally try to squeeze the life out of the peace-loving sponge. Several aquatic zealots have been barred from early screenings after claiming the film casts mollusks in a negative light.

  • After creating an autobiographical book, audiotape, documentary and animated series, Robert Evans has pitched a bigscreen version of his life as “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told.” Apparently the producer misheard a conversation and thought Hollywood had finally learned how to tap into the vast audience of Evans-gelicals.

  • “Gigli” will be rereleased with a new audio track, in the hopes that Jennifer Lopez’s line “It’s turkey time: Gobble-gobble” will be funnier in Aramaic.

  • In Philadelphia last week, Stanley Gold and Roy E. Disney presented a slideshow to demonstrate their contempt for Michael Eisner. At press time, there were unconfirmed reports that the two are planning a bigscreen version, to be called “The Passion of the Anti-Christ.”

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