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‘Greenlight’ bow unspools lessons

Tyro helmer Rankin offers advice at pic's preem

HOLLYWOOD — The sophomore class of Showbiz for Beginners — aka Miramax/LivePlanet’s “Project Greenlight” series — had its graduation party at the Hard Rock Cafe Monday night after the bow of “The Battle of Shaker Heights” at Universal Citywalk.

Co-director Kyle Rankin acknowledged the pic took a lighter direction after a humbling test screening on the most recent episode of the HBO docu. He advised fellow Hollywood wannabes “to make sure that the movie lives in their heart or they’ll get the crap kicked out of them.” Even screenwriter Erica Beeney, whose tensions over the pic’s direction were evident in the HBO series, had clearly mastered one of Hollywood’s mantras. “I knew from the get-go — film is a director’s medium,” she said. “If you want to be a screenwriter, you’re not in control of the final production. If that drives you crazy enough — direct.”

But it was Ben Affleck, also an exec producer on the pic, who showed the most showbiz savvy of the night in rueful remarks. “Project Greenlight” is “more rewarding than — well, much more so — than some of the movies I’ve starred in,” the thesp told the crowd. “I think everyone in the United States who saw ‘Gigli’ last weekend is here.”

Also in attendance: Miramax production exec Rick Schwartz, co-director Efram Potelle, exec producer-LivePlanet partner Chris Moore, producer Jeff Balis; the pic’s Shia LaBeouf, Amy Smart, Anson Mount, Kathleen Quinlan, Elden Henson and Ray Wise; plus Will Farrell, Don Cheadle and Kevin Smith.