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Echoes of ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ in N.Y.

GOOD MORNING from New York and a balmy Indian summer, but some of the concrete city’s many trees have started to wear their autumn gold and ruby jewelry. And the delayed cold season has given a reprieve to the homeless huddled in the steam pouring from the subway’s sidewalk grates. Friday night on West 12th Street and Greenwich Avenue, the clear fall sky was punctuated by the telltale lights of a movie company and the streets, bearing tracks, foretold a camera crew and not an ancient trolley. Overhead, residents were hanging out of their windows to catch a glimpse of the glamour below. And from nearby NYU, eager students stood on the sidewalks. The cinema hopefuls and future studio sachems studied the equipment and got as close as possible to the monitor to peer over the shoulders of director and co-writer Andrew Bergman. I arrived on the “Cop Tips Waitress $ 2 Mil” (new tentative title) set with Mike Lobell, producer of the Castle Rock/TriStar romantic-comedy. The added chase-suspense features give this movie a scent of “Sleepless in Seattle,” I hinted to Lobell. He told me their movie will also contain the kind of romantic music standards that made up “Seattle’s” sonata. “Cop” will be a serenade to N.Y., they tell me, and the city is one of the principal players — with 103 locations, including Yankee Stadium and Central Park. The stars are Nicolas Cage, Bridget Fonda and Rosie Perez, a trio of the hottest young players in the biz.

BRIDGET FONDA, an alumna of nearby NYU, is approached by many of the student-fans for her autograph, which she graciously signs. “I’d like to go back to school,” she tells me. “I’d like to take some anthropology courses.” She didn’t say whether they’d give her the few necessary credits needed for the graduation she missed. But her movie sked is so heavy it doesn’t seem likely the NYU students will soon see Fonda as a classmate. “Rough Magic” is next up for her — if it can get a January start, John Malkovich will co-star. If it’s delayed, he’s planning to return to the stage. But Fonda starts learning magic as soon as she winds “Waitress.” Perhaps she and Eric Stoltz will re-team again. He winged in from his location Sunday to spend a holiday weekend with Bridget in N.Y. She also looks forward to visiting in Montana. “All the Fondas live there,” she laughed. They include her long-divorced parents, Aunt Jane and her Ted you-know-who. Bridget has shown her versatility in varied roles — and says she’s happy to be in a warm comedy. However, she admits learning to use a gun and battle in other roles was also welcomed. “It forces you to take your mind off the theories of acting alone,” she laughed.

“I WOULD LIKE TO DO A HEAVY,” smiled Nicolas Cage as he joined us following a take. “Or something dramatic.” His previous Bergman/Lobell comedy hit was “Honeymoon in Vegas” and he follows with another comedy with Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz, “It Happened in Paradise,” also known as “Home for the Holidays.” George Gallo directs and Cage tells me they’ll film in the winter cold of Toronto with much night shooting. “I’m the straight men with those two (Carvey and Lovitz).” Cage allowed he enjoyed working with them on “Saturday Night Live,” and admitted he’d like to do another “SNL” hostint as he did following “Honeymoon in Vegas.” Cage and Fonda both suffer from acrophobia and admit it required quite a bit of acting to remain calm in a balloon sequence flying over Central Park! “And being suspended by a crane high up in the air,” added Cage. Lobell/Bergman had tested Cage’s ability to fight fear previously in the fabulously funny “Flying Elvises” sequence for “Honeymoon in Vegas,” you recall. … Another star of the “Cop Tips Waitress $ 2 Mil” is the New York Post — and the movie company’s happy (as is everyone) that the newspaper survived. The saga of the cop and waitress is headlined throughout the movie. In the scene I watched, bundles of the Post have arrived on the street — and the front page is emblazoned “Cop and Waitress Lose.”… Lobell and Bergman have a romantic twist to the story and are trying to keep it mum. They are also shooting “Little Big League” in Minneapolis while in production in N.Y. on the “under $ 30 mil budgeted ‘Cop.’ ” Their next teaming as producer/director will be “StripTease,” next winter. But they will be developing “Wolf Dog” plus other pix for Castle Rock, 20th and WB. … Caleb Deschanel, ace cinematographer who has been involved with his own company on commercials, is behind the feature cameras for the first time in six years. He says he returns to the shorter film life upon this movie’s completion. “You learn a lot from them (commercials),” he admits to me. As an ambulance screamed by, I asked if it is in the scene. “I thought they were in every scene,” he laughed. … Also in the movie is Lobell’s daughter Anna, a Brown U. student who appeared in “Honeymoon in Vegas.” Also Ed Goldstein, Lobell’s childhood pal from Brooklyn — who plays a candy store owner. He appeared in Lobell’s first movie — 25 years ago.