RUMORS ABOUT GHOST BOY IN `THREE MEN AND A BABY' PERSIST

Published: Sunday, Aug. 19 1990 12:00 a.m. MDT

Today we hear from the movie answer man, also known as the complaint king:

- SO IF HE'S NOT A GHOST, why was that boy standing in the window in the "Three Men and a Baby" scene?Well, the answer to that question hasn't quite surfaced yet, but the urban legend grows.

In last week's column I reflected on the rumor that the boy is actually an apparition: As the story goes, a New York couple leased their apartment to Touchstone Pictures for the bachelor pad in "Three Men and a Baby." Their son had been killed (or committed suicide, if you prefer) in the apartment. The boy in the scene is their dead son.

The rumor has the parents appearing on "60 Minutes" or "20/20" to tell their story.

But the apartment doesn't exist. The film was shot on a set built specifically for the film on a Toronto soundstage.

Well, this is certainly the rumor that won't die.

Despite that column debunking the myth, more people have called in the past week to insist it's true, and one person said Ted Danson appeared on "Donahue" to say the boy was indeed a ghost. Someone else said the film's editors saw the boy's ghost in 60 different scenes as the movie was being cut, but all were eliminated from the final film except one - the scene with Ted Danson and Celeste Holm passing quickly by the window.

If that's not enough, your friendly neighborhood film critic was called Thursday by a pair of Milwaukee deejays - radio station WKGR there - and quizzed over the air about it. (I had no idea our circulation reached that far.)

Surely I'm not becoming the national spokesman for this weird story?

But so far no one has been able to authenticate anything about this rumor. It's always, "I heard it from a friend of a friend, or my wife's boss' niece's acquaintance," or . . . . well, you get the idea.

And now there's probably a run on "Three Men and a Baby" videos in Milwaukee!

- HOW COME WHEN YOU see certain movies at Cineplex Odeon theaters the house lights dim but don't go down all the way, leaving moviegoers in an auditorium filled with too much light?

That only happens with movies that begin right away, without the previews or ads - known as trailers - that usually precede the feature. The lights dim automatically as the trailers begin and there is a special strip of film at the end of the trailers that runs through the projector, telling a computer to pull the lights down all the way before the feature starts.

But sometimes the trailer reel is left off, so the lights dim as the feature begins and without that special strip the computer is never told to shut the lights farther.

If that happens, just tell an usher or the manager and they'll manually shut down the lights.

- SPEAKING OF CINEPLEX ODEON, why did the theater chain discontinue real butter on its popcorn?

For some reason, unlike the company's three-ring hoopla when it began using real butter, Cineplex Odeon didn't send out press releases to notify the media when real butter was discontinued.

But the reason is probably that real butter goes rancid after awhile and is expensive to maintain. Margarine slime, on the other hand, has a much longer shelf life.

- WHY DOES SPIKE LEE call each of his films "A Spike Lee Joint"?

This is an in-joke for Lee and friends, but Universal Pictures, which has released his past three movies, insists it is not drug-related.

By the way, Lee has opened a store in Brooklyn, his home town, where he sells memorabilia from his movies.

The name of the store is - you guessed it - Spike's Joint.

- HOW DO CELEBRITIES feel about the movie rating system?

For one, Bill Murray had some things to say about the movie ratings system when he was in Salt Lake City recently, particularly with regard to his bank robber caper-comedy "Quick Change," which was rated R for the use of one specific profanity a few times:

"It's just that one word. There's no violence, there's no sex, it doesn't espouse any. . . ." At this point Murray got that mischievous grin on his face and wryly noted, "Except for grand larceny, it doesn't encourage anything immoral."

Murray said the R-rating was given because of the number of times the profanity in question was used. "They actually have a limit."

He also offered some thoughts on the PG-13 rating created six years ago, saying the board was coerced into coming up with a rating between PG and R because of the uproar over "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."

"It was jammed down their throat by `Indiana Jones.' They invented PG-13 for `Indiana Jones.'

"We thought maybe we should cut one (a version of `Quick Change') that is PG-13, because there's nothing (in the film) a 13-year-old hasn't seen. But you need it in that mob scene. It's funny in there. And when Jason (Robards, as the police chief) says it, it's funny.

"I hope we don't lose a lot of audience because of it. I think it's the softest R anybody ever made. It's PG-14, if it's anything."

- QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Nicolas Cage, to the L.A. Times' Michael Wilmington on his "Wild at Heart" director, David Lynch:

"David is like a criminal director. He's not concerned with establishment laws and rules. He just does what he does - and it's honest. He's constantly sculpting and fishing. A scene can turn into a comedy or into heavy horror in a fraction of a second. He's very much a sculptor, a spontaneous sculptor."

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