NEW YORK — Scratch scandal-scarred Michael Jackson from doing the theme song and video for Paramount’s big holiday hopeful, “Addams Family Values.” Jackson’s manager, Sandy Gallin, abruptly told the studio in recent days that Jackson would not be able to finish the video for the song. It is reasonable to assume that Paramount was nervous about Jackson because it had no way of knowing how the allegations of child molestation against the pop idol would play out by the time the film opens Nov. 19 — and the studio has a big promotional campaign for the film with the family eatery McDonald’s. But knowledgeable sources assert that the decision was solely Jackson’s. Execs at Paramount seem to have embraced the viewpoint of many in the industry, that while hardly a poster boy for family values, Jackson’s claims that he’s the victim of an extortion plot seem highly plausible. Paramount was even prepared to stick by the megastar, having flown the set for the video over to Japan, after the scandal broke, so that Jackson could finish the work while he continued his world tour. Jackson will likely pickup the tab for the footage that has already been shot, which could exceed $ 1 million, since Paramount would have paid for the video upon delivery. Meanwhile, Paramount still has time to line up another act to do a song and video for the film. The video for the original movie’s theme song proved a good promotional tool, and even slowed the waning of rap star Hammer’s career. Not surprisingly, other pop performers are lining up to do the song. Paramount wouldn’t comment.
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PAULA’S BLUES: Paula Abdul, who recently reclaimed her voice in court, now wants to stake her claim in the movie business as well. DISH hears she’s close to making a deal to star in “12 Bar Blues,” a musical at Savoy that will be co-produced by Dawn Steel, Charles Roven and Bob Cavallo. It’s a series of firsts: Aside from being Abdul’s starring debut, it’s Steel’s first non-Disney production, and her first collaboration with hubby Roven, whose credits include “Final Analysis.” There might be another husband-wife teamup, as Abdul’s spouse, Emilio Estevez , might play a male lead. The film is about table dancing — something closer to flashdancing than lapdancing — and was scripted by David Luca and will be directed by Dwight Little. Latter last did “Rapid Fire” with Brandon Lee. Roven is partners with Cavallo, the “Purple Rain” producer who manages Abdul.
FEMALE SWITCH: Columbia was pushing producer Denise Di Novi and “Wide Sargasso Sea” director John Duigan to do the female western “Outlaws.” Now, the studio’s steering them toward a higher-profile project with a largely female cast. They’ll wait for another draft of “Outlaws” and move on to a remake of “Little Women,” which was assigned to Di Novi over such Col producers as Jim Brooks, Doug Wick and Zoetrope. She was chosen because she could deliver Duigan, and, the studio hopes, Winona Ryder, who’s garnering great notices for “The Age of Innocence.” Sources say Ryder’s now reading Robin Swicord’s script, which is a lot closer to Louisa May Alcott’s book than the two earlier film adaptations. Since Ryder’s mom, Cindy Horowitz, once wrote a book about Alcott, she might be hooked.
EISNER GETS EVANS: Hollywood connections have led longtime Paramount exec Robert Evans to place his memoirs, “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” with Hyperion , the Disney-owned publishing house. Two weeks ago, Paramount’s Simon & Schuster essentially put the book in turnaround, three years after S&S commissioned Evans to write it. It came in three weeks late, at 850 pages, and bared a lot of dirty laundry not only about Evans, but the Par empire and S&S itself.
Evans’ agent, Ed Victor, said the auction was completed yesterday. “It was a very spirited auction, with a number of bidders getting down to Hyperion and another publisher,” said Victor, who wouldn’t name the other house.
“We reached a substantial amount of money, and both publishers stopped at the same point. It was a knife edge, but what swung it Hyperion’s way was that one of the people there who love the book was Michael Eisner. It meant a lot to Bob that Eisner loved it.”
Victor wouldn’t discuss whether Hyperion covered the S&S advance, believed to be between $ 200,000 and $ 250,000, in a total deal estimated at $ 400,000. The first dollars go to recoup S&S’s advance. DISH hears Hyperion paid upwards of $ 275,000 to beat out other suitors that included St. Martin’s Press.
Most important to Evans, he gets his book published properly. “All I’ll say is Bob feels vindicated and happy, and that (S&S topper) Dick Snyder will also be a happy man,” Victor said. The book is planned for a September 1994 pub date, and since the 1994 American Booksellers Assn. convention is in Los Angeles, Evans will hold a big bash at his house.
EXIT, STAGE LEFT: Des McAnuff, who directed “The Who’s Tommy” on Broadway and has been the longtime artistic director of the La Jolla Playhouse, is about to become the latest in a list of leading legitters to try his hand at movies. DISH hears McAnuff is making a deal with Touchstone’s David Hoberman to direct a short film, followed by features. This can hardly be good news for the stage, which has watched such stars as Herb Ross, Mike Nichols and James Lapine drastically cut their legit output to concentrate on features.
SCOUT HONORED: Producers Al Ruddy and Andre Morgan have finally succeeded in getting the baseball pic “The Scout” up for a plate appearance, after the project seemed a perennial bench warmer. The pic, about a failed scout who might save his job when he finds a baseball phenom, will be set up with director Michael Ritchie. Albert Brooks plays the scout, DISH hears. Past efforts to mount the pic had Peter Falk, Rodney Dangerfield and Walter Matthau in the scout role. DISH hears the studio’s eyeing Brendan Fraser for the ballplayer and is in negotiations for a distributor.
WOO ABUSE: Everyone knows that the screenwriter takes the most abuse on a movie set, but not like Chuck Pfarrer. Pfarrer, also a producer on the project, got subjected to the most graphically violent scene in John Woo’s “Hard Target”: He’s chased, run over by motorcycles, and done in by iron-tipped crossbow arrows. “About 10 days after Christmas, they hadn’t shot the opening scene and John said he wanted me to do it,” says Pfarrer. “I figured they’d use a snapshot of me, and I’d be a chalk mark on the streets of New Orleans, but John kicked the crap out of me. I got blown up in a building, and run over with a motorcycle. And everything was redone 30 times. But it was kind of flattering.” Much of it was taken out by request of the ratings board. Pfarrer, a former Navy SEAL, survived the ordeal, enough to turn in a draft of “The Green Hornet” at Universal. DISH hears the draft was good enough to put it on the studio fast track.
CAA GEOGRAPHY? DISH figured that after brokering David Letterman’s huge CBS talkshow deal, CAA might be stockpiling talent on the first few episodes of Letterman’s “Late Show” to get him off to a good start against ICM client Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show.” Apparently, it’s not true, at least in the first two installments. Sure, Bill Murray, Paul Newman and Robin Williams are CAA clients. But at press time, the agency hadn’t signed the other guest, 4-year-old geography whiz kid Jonathan Estrada, who bites cheese into the shapes of U.S. states.