Semel at work on multinational deal

BONJOUR DE PARIS: A familiar face and friendly voice greets us in the lobby of the world’s No. 1 hotel–the Ritz–Warner Bros.’ Terry Semel, looking very businesslike with conservative suit, striped shirt and tie. He explained he was on route to meet the Canal Plus toppers. Semel had just arrived Monday night and left yesterday morning on the WB plane following the intense meetings. Semel was accompanied by four WB exex equipped with facts and figures on present and future projects and projections about the business throughout the world. They would–and did–talk not only of product-to-be but of existing pix. No new deals were struck, Terry told me, as he readied to leave–however, business was “finished” on past, pending deals. The enormity of the WB-Canal Plus-New Regency deal goes beyond the $600 million commitment on mutual production. It also goes beyond the 20 movies initially planned, and will expand to another 20. Semel said the French (Canal Plus), the Germans (New Regency) and the Americans (WB) are planning a healthy movie future. They are already involved in six movies, including the Richard Gere-Jodie Foster “Sommersby,” the Whoopi Goldberg-Ted Danson “Made in America,” and Michael Douglas in the recently wound “Falling Down.” Semel smiled, noting this was a good time to be talking business deals, as WB was enjoying enormous box office success with “Lethal Weapon 3” and “Batman Returns.” Semel said there will positively be a third “Batman” and a fourth “Lethal.” And there are ideas already in the works for both. And don’t be surprised if Jack Nicholson makes a return as the Joker. (Did he really die in “Batman”?) Semel spoke with Joel Silver and Dick Donner, who were here at the Ritz last week, about the future “Lethal.” Donner and Silver segued from Paris to Brussels. Their movie opens in Paris this fall, while “Batman” is being heralded all around Paris for its mid-July bow.

EURO DISNEY LOOKED a lot different to me yesterday than it did exactly a year ago when I trudged through the mud, wearing high boots and a slicker, to report firsthand what was to be this year. There have been plenty of brickbats thrown at Euro Disney but take it from me, when you see thousands of kids here, talking French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, yes, even English–and laughing their way through the many “lands,” you know Walt’s dream has found another fairyland. It is, of course, very much like our Disneyland and the DisneyWorld of Florida–but , with its own eclat. The streets are wider, more colorful, the audio-animatronic figures more refined. The “Pirates of the Caribbean,” always one of my favorite rides through the years, is a favorite here too, judging by the lines. The Disney hotels are a visual delight; the Cheyenne, western motif’d , is the favorite. We lunched with Euro Disney’s topper, Bob Fitzpatrick, who has devoted five years to make this dream come true, and with Jean-Marie Gerbeaux, his VP of communication. I asked howcum the park has gotten some of its poor press. They claim it is because it has such high visibility. But things are good here, and Bob expects by year’s end the park will achieve its anticipated goal. There will be 19,000 “cast members” working in the park this summer. “And that’s not bad,” said Fitzpatrick, who reminded that France is suffering from 10% unemployment. They are adding housing for the employees as well. Fitzpatrick noted that hiring youngsters for summer jobs of two months is unique to France–and welcome. The other night, he said he was dining in a Paris restaurant and when en route to the men’s room, he was stopped by a young lady who wanted to give him her resume for a job in Euro Disney! As for the striking farmers who blocked the road to Euro Disney last week, Fitzpatrick said, “What better place for them to get attention.” One of the truckers told Fitzpatrick he appreciated Euro Disney’s courtesy to them. “OK,” Bob told him, “but next time, come back with your family and leave your tractor at home.” As for the contractors who built Euro Disney, Bob told me 95% of them have expressed their desire to build the additions to be built in ’96 and the year 2000–the first is the Disney-MGM Studio Tour followed by Epcot. It’s now believed that Epcot will boast pavilions for the continents rather than for countries as in Florida–since there’s no need to “show parts of Italy, France, Germany to visitors who live but a few hours away.

SHOWBIZ ON Asmaller scale–but by no means small–is the famous show at the Moulin Rouge, which is packed these days with LaToya Jackson starring. She sings songs interspersed throughout the two-hour show and she’s dressed in spectacular costumes. Some are slightly revealing of her figure, which seems slight beside the voluptuous showgirls traditionally attired in the most glamorously semi-nude costumes. Michael Jackson, who recently played Munich, is to play Paris in September and he is expected to see LaToya–as a matter of fact, it’s rumored he’s bought out an entire second show at the Moulin Rouge. And that’s 1,000 seats! I wonder what Michael will think of the show–no, not about his sister’s performance, but some of the other acts, which include a man wrestling two alligators, a dancer with an enormous boa constrictor–and les semi-nude girls.