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Lions Gate gets ‘Wise,’ changes ending

GOOD MORNING: In addition to a delay (Aug. 31 to Sept. 21) on the opening of Mariah Carey’s 20th Fox starrer “Glitter,” her second pic “Wise Girls,” from Lions Gate got a new ending — in order to get its completed financing, reports producer Jack Sojka. He had worked on this project for three years and achieved the casting of Carey, Oscar winner Mira Sorvino and Melora Walters (thanks to the efforts of William Morris’ Nicole David). The trio play waitresses in an Mafia-owned eatery where drugs were an unlisted menu item — and the three were rubbed out in the original finale. But, as Sojka told me, Lions Gate nixed that ending … The role may have mimicked Mariah’s own, pre-celeb life, notes the producer. (Whereas in “Glitter,” she’s a star — in a star-crossed love affair.) I asked Sojka if there were any indications during his pic’s filming that Mariah was headed for the “emotional and physical breakdown” that had her seek medical attention this month. He said, “When we were filming in Halifax, she’d often have to fly to N.Y. or L.A. for ‘Glitter,’ both the film and the album of the same name. And she had to fly to Cannes to promote it. We often had to do our show around her.” He said there were several times when she was late for her work call, once without giving any notice. “When she arrived on the set three hours late, she claimed she had hives and had to go to the doctor. Behind her back the company called her ‘the bitch’ and ‘the diva.’ The crew didn’t mind the delays: They got overtime because of her.” He said Sorvino had meticulously researched the roles before the film started and on her computer noted each scene’s motivations. Sorvino had also taped Mariah’s guestint on Rosie O’Donnell on which both women reverted to their conversational, tough New Yorkese. Before they started to film, Sorvino played it for the company; director David Anspaugh exclaimed to Mariah, “That’s it — play it just like that!” “I can do that,” she said. And, said Sojka, “She did it perfectly; her acting fit the part.” At the beginning, he says, “the two of them clicked. It was only when her discipline failed — when she became late — that the climate changed.” He thinks the role brought out Mariah’s inner self pre-fame and he speculated, “Her breakdown might have been caused by her crossing point. I think this movie got her in touch with who she really was and the movie made a psychological release for her. The role is Mariah — who she really was before she became ‘Mariah Carey.’ ” Would he hire her again? “Yes, now that she’s had the courage to seek the help.” And the rest. Sojka may have the occasion to seek Mariah for another film: His Champion Entertainment is readying six films — one is “Jimmy the Elf,” a Christmas story written by “Wise Girls” author John Meadows; also Williams Bekkala’s “Tourniquet,” a thriller in which the President is killed.

TED TURNER PICTURES is investing $51 million in its “Gods & Generals” Civil War epic, which will probably be released by WB. New additions to its cast of Confederate and Union officers are Jeremy London, William Sanderson, Billy Campbell, Malachy McCourt, Dechen Thurman and Stephen Spacek … “In the Shadow of the Condor,” shooting in India, costars Sean Young and Rutger Hauer, last seen together in “Blade Runner” (1982). The story of an archeologist kidnapped because he knows the whereabouts of a lost city is directed by Ted Nicolaou, produced by Frank DiMartini and Marisa Johnson. Showcase Entertainment will release … Peter Boyle back for his sixth season on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” for which he has his third Emmy nomination, starred in Miramax’s “Monster’s Ball” during the hiatus — as the patriarch in a family of executioners. On-screen son Billy Bob Thornton follows in his footsteps and Puff Daddy is one of his charges (you should pardon the expression). “I play a redneck racist,” laughs Boyle. “I don’t know why they cast me.” In the series, “I continue to be obnoxious as someone who has to be politically incorrect. Somebody’s got to do it,” he laughed. Boyle who underwent angioplasty a coupla years ago, is boasting a new, slimmer waistline.

AARON SPELLING SOUNDED like his old self as we chatted on the phone. He confirmed his radiation treatments are successfully completed and he’s planning his return to the office shortly … The consortium of medics who are planning the first human cloning have inked with Krista Erickson of Carpediem Prods. to cover it, from beginning to end, for a documentary film on human cloning. Agent Christopher Nassif of Diverse Entertainment signed Erickson, who will begin filming next month “at a secret location with the tightest security. We are recording history,” he says. A TV and book deal are also being cloned by agent Nassif … The video “I Want Love,” in which Robert Downey Jr. lip-synchs pal Elton John’s song (from his album “Songs From the West Coast”) preems on VH1 and MTV today. Sam Taylor-Wood directed at Greystone in BevHills Aug. 23. The album’s released by Universal Oct. 2 … Twice Tony-nominated Terrence Mann, who recently wound “The Devil and Daniel Webster” with Alec Baldwin, returns to B’way Aug. 30, donning fishnets and six-inch pumps to play Dr. Frank N. Furter in “The Rocky Horror Show” at the Circle in the Square.

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