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Lion gets creative with auction idea

What price stardom? For years Hollywood has wondered. And finally, the answer emerges: Stardom starts at $10,000 and you can get it mail order.

MGM wants to put you in pictures. For the right price, you could “act” alongside Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo in the Lion’s upcoming remake of the 1968 heist-romance pic “The Thomas Crown Affair.”

It’s a brilliant new filmbiz strategy for Kirk Kerkorian’s cash-hemorrhaging Leo: Instead of selling tickets for people to watch movies — a risky business, at best — MGM will sell tickets for people to be in the movies.

In the past week, MGM has started mailing out the maiden edition of its new movie-themed MGM Star catalog. Created in conjunction with posh retailer Neiman-Marcus, the slickly shot booklet contains an attractive and not-cheap collection of classy clothes, deco furniture, jewelry and sundry wares inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood. This is your one-stop catalog to find such champagne-clique essentials as a 24-inch ostrich feather boa for $65 and 9-inch tall director’s chair sculpture for $390.

But on page 42, opposite the Italian driving style jacket in black leather with embroidered logo on left chest (just $395), comes the acting gig offer. From an auction starting at $10,000, the highest bidder gets to join the new “Thomas Crown” cast in New York City, under John McTiernan’s direction. Filming is slated to start in the fall. (By the way, the original pic starred Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway.)

Accounting firm Deloitte & Touche will conduct the auction. MGM will donate anything over $10,000 toward the cure and prevention of ovarian cancer.

This could the greatest thing to hit the business since product placement. And maybe MGM could broaden the role-selling concept. If bidding for a non-speaking, walk-on role starts at $10,000, perhaps the chance to toss off a drolly insightful line of dialogue could be priced from, say, $14,300. Participation in a fistfight might open at $17,500 if you lose the fight, and $19,500 if you get to win. And for a steamy romantic scene with one of Hollywood’s more desirable stars — the sky’s the limit.

But the experience is no less realistic for having come as a marketing promotion: The catalog entry’s small print warns prospective performers that there is “no guarantee that (the role) will be included in the film’s final edited version.”

In other words, your walk-on, non-speaking part could fall on the cutting room floor as a non-seen part as well.

Who knows, maybe next time MGM will auction off final cut. Kerkorian could probably

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