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‘Water’ flows back to source

Tome adapted as 'Conrack' in 1974

Is the squeaky-clean Hallmark company trying to pretend that its upcoming CBS movie “The Water Is Wide” isn’t a remake?

An elaborate presskit sent out for the telepic (slated to air Jan. 29) details novelist Pat Conroy‘s pic adaptations, from “The Great Santini” to “Prince of Tides.” But there’s no mention of “Conrack,” the 1974 theatrical from 20th Century Fox that first adapted “Water Is Wide.”

Jon Voight starred as an idealistic young man teaching black kids in a South Carolina schoolhouse. (The kids mispronounced “Conroy” as “Conrack.”) Most of the reviews of “Conrack,” directed by Martin Ritt and scripted by Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch, were favorable, pegging it as a classy family movie.

So why did Hallmark choose to ignore it in its press notes?

“We didn’t deliberately leave out any reference to ‘Conrack,’ ” says a Hallmark spokeswoman. “We just didn’t think it was relevant to the new movie.”

She says Hallmark bought rights to the book, not the screenplay, “So we don’t consider ‘The Water Is Wide’ as a remake of the movie.”

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