Representatives of Columbia Pictures and the Los Angeles Times are in discussions regarding “an utterly irresponsible and untrue account” published in the paper regarding a purported “Last Action Hero” test screening.

According to a story in Thursday’s New York Times, the Los Angeles Times article so angered Columbia executives that the studio demanded that the reporter responsible for the article — freelancer Jeffrey Wells — be barred from covering the studio.

The studio has also said that if their demand is not met, all L.A. Times writers and editors will be barred from studio screenings and announcements, according to the New York Times.

Furthermore, the studio is reported to be considering not advertising in the paper. But industry observers contend that Columbia will not withhold ads, especially since the Los Angeles Times is the most-read paper in the city.

Calender claims

Wells’ June 6 article in the Calendar section claimed that numerous people had attended a screening at Pasadena’s UA Marketplace and were disappointed with the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, which opens today.

Although the article also contained denials from several Columbia executives that the screening even occurred, the studio took issue with the report and mailed a letter dated June 15 to executive Calendar editor John Lindsay.

According to the story in the New York Times, Mark Gill, Columbia Pictures’ senior vice president for publicity and promotion, wrote, “You ran a story about a screening that demonstrably didn’t happen. We are unable to come up with any explanation other than malicious intent on the part of the reporter.”

Reached Thursday, Lindsay said, “We’re talking (to Columbia) about it. There’s a lot of discussion.” Lindsay admitted that he talked to Gill but declined to elaborate. Gill declined to comment but acknowledged that the letter had been sent to the paper.