Sounds like an inspired match: Robin Williams in prolific penster Neil Simon's original screenplay, "My Son's Brother," at Columbia. Williams would play a man miserable in the shadow of his celebrity brother - Mom's favorite. But is it a go?
Simon said guardedly: "I've been too close on several projects that didn't happen, to be discussing this film as a certainty. I think we'll make it and Robin Williams would be wonderful in the role."A Williams representative said that the role of the obscure brother "gives Robin an opportunity to be funny, as well as reflect the character's inner rage. We're very excited about it and certain that when the re-writes are turned in, we'll be ready to commit. It's close enough to be his next picture."
Kevin Kline is being offered the role of the famous brother, it was said. -LEONARD KLADY
HOLLYWOOD - "Mississippi Burning" - generating critical kudos and awards (like the National Board of Review's best picture of '88) - also is catching a lot of flak.
Black leaders like Coretta Scott King and journalists who covered the 1960s civil-rights movement are knocking Alan Parker's movie for telling the civil rights struggle from a white point of view and for relegating blacks to background and "victim" roles.
Now, producers of "Mississippi Summer" say their movie will rectify Parker's account. "We'll be telling the true story - not a fictional one," promised producer Tova Laiter (the TV movie "Lina: My 100 Children, plus the films "Fire With Fire," "One More Saturday Night").
Laiter said that "Mississippi Summer" will be based on the true account of the fateful 1964 summer that brought together civil-rights workers Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner. She believes that "Burning's" fictional account distorts the story of the murders of three civil-rights workers by focusing on white lawmen who solve the murders.
"I feel it's a flawed movie about serious subject matter, with a great performance by Gene Hackman. I feel it distorts history.
"To bestow awards on a movie that has twisted the truth does a disservice to young people who don't know the whole story."
"We'll tell a story that has black heroes," Laiter said (Among them: Chaney). "Young black people from all over the country got involved. Local blacks put their lives on the line. We're going to tell that story - the real story."
Director Chris Menges ("A World Apart") is now casting the $10-$12 million "Summer." Scripted by Stanley Weiser ("Wall Street"), it will shoot on location in Mississippi. Laiter said that dramatic rights have been secured from the families of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner. - PAT H. BROESKE
HOLLYWOOD - The mainstream movie career of former teen porn star Traci Lords continues - this time she's co-starring opposite Jim Varney in "Fast Food," a $5 million Chuck Fries Films release due this spring. She will play a spy hired by hamburger franchise owner Varney to uncover the ingredients used by a rival company (Varney does not play his famous Ernest character in this one). Michael A. Simpson directs.
Fries, through a spokesman, said that he has no problem being associated with an ex-X-rated starlet: "So what if she made porno films at 15. Everybody has to break into this business somehow. She's just expanding her audience."
But the spokesman conceded, "Selling a family film with a former porno star might cause us an image problem." - CRAIG MODDERNO
HOLLYWOOD - Recall that Universal managed to make "Twins" through a unique financial deal: Arnold Schwarzenneger, Danny DeVito and producer-director Ivan Reitman took no fee up front in exchange for 35 percent of film rentals - Schwarzenneger receiving 171/2 percent, DeVito and Reitman splitting the other half.
Well, the film grossed $11.1 million during its opening weekend. With the studio recouping about 70 percent - or $7.7 million - as its rental share, the big guy should muscle about $1.3 million for just those three days, less studio deductions.
The Schwarzenneger-DeVito "Twins" pairing, by the way, is not all that novel.
Producer John Davis tried to get the physically antithetical stars together two years ago for "Urban Commandos," a project written by Frank Capello. It had DeVito as head of an American household where a crime-fighting alien (Schwarzenneger's role) takes sanctuary from intergalactic bad guys. DeVito discovers Arnie's indestructible suit, donning it to battle sleazy criminals - not an easy fit.
"We came very close to making the film," said Davis, who is still at work on the project. "But ultimately we were done in by the star salaries. Before we could come up with another deal, they were snatched up to do `Twins.' " -LEONARD KLADY
HOLLYWOOD - Things are finally beginning to happen for Oleg Vidov, the Russian matinee idol (he did 36 films at home), who defected to this country in 1985.
Vidov, seen briefly in the summer's "Red Heat" (as Arnold Schwarzenegger's Russkie police partner; he got popped right off), will star in a comedy, "Russian Dressing" - "a light-hearted glasnost adventure." Frank Capra Jr. is executive producing, from the script by Vidov and co-producer Joan Borsten. Peter O'Fallon, who does TV commercials, will make his feature debut.
Filming is expected to begin in April in South America.
Meanwhile, Vidov will appear in a Tony Bill-directed commercial (to air during the Super Bowl). And, he is post-producing a short children's film that marks his directorial debut. "The Legend of the Emerald Princess" is based on a story Vidov was told by his grandmother.
Filmed in one week at a cost of $31,000, "Emerald" was financed by members of Los Angeles' Russian-Jewish community. - PAT H. BROESKE
-Quibbles & Bits:
-Tri-Star Pictures has sent out a press release letting the world know it is "proud to present the movie event of the century" - the filming of "Les Miserables." Now, just which century is that?
-If you thought you were safe as long as you stayed away from Camp Crystal Lake, think again. In the soon-to-shoot "Friday the 13th: Part VIII," that fab fiend Jason leaves his outdoorsy digs . . . and heads for the big city!
HOLLYWOOD - Disney is also cashing in with its kiddie picture, "Oliver & Company": More than 30 distinct instances of company logos and brand names shown in the movie (some are repeats) have been counted.
This was no mean feat, considering that "Oliver" is animated.
Our kitty hero, for instance, takes refuge atop a Ryder truck tire. His little pal Jennifer plays a Yamaha piano. His gang of doggy friends congregate in a shipboard hideaway where at least one Diet Coke can can be seen. Billboards hyping Kodak, Dr. Scholls, Sony, Tab, McDonald's, U.S.A. Today and its parent Gannett litter the background.
Disney would not comment about the seemingly heavy commercializing of "Oliver & Company." But industry sources say that promotional tie-in deals and product placement fees usually cost companies a few thousand dollars to the mid-six figures for major films these days. - STACY JENEL SMITH
HOLLYWOOD - Joseph Mantegna, Faye Dunaway and Ornella Muti star in "Wait Until Spring, Bandini," a Zoetrope Studios production to film in Utah in February. Based on the John Fante novel, the story centers on a poor immigrant family in rugged Colorado in the '20s. Belgian director Dominique Deruddere wrote and is directing for producers Tom Luddy and Amadeo Pagani.
Prior to "Bandini," Dunaway heads for Italy to co-star with Rutger Hauer in "Up to Date," a romantic thriller for writer-director Lina Wertmuller. The Fulvio Lucisano production, which also stars Nastassja Kinski, films in Rome in January and segues to New York.
Andy Garcia gets the thankless job of investigating police corruption in Paramount's "Internal Affairs," to film early next year. Based on a screenplay by Henry Bean, it is being directed by Mike Figgis for producers Pierre David and Frank Mancuso Jr.
Corey Feldman plays Prince Charming in Trans World's "Cinderella Rock," a contemporary twist on the "shoe fits" parable (they are still casting about for the title role). Feldman will also write and sing several songs to be included in the script by "Rocky Horror Show's" Richard O'Brian and Jerry Colker. Marty Callner directs. Produced by Nir Hakili February in Los Angeles.
Woody Harrelson's currently moonlighting from "Cheers" in the romantic comedy "Cool Blue" opposite Elly Pouget and Hank Azaria. Richard Shepard and Mark Mullin together wrote and direct the yarn of a struggling artist looking for love and attention. Lionel Wigram and Cassian Elwes produce for Cinema Corp. of America.
Director Glenn Gordon Caron has come aboard "Curse of Genius," the Joel Silver production starring Richard Dreyfuss as Broadway producer Jed Harris. . . . Eric Red, who wrote "The Hitcher" and "Near Dark," has signed to create "Alien 3." Renny Harlin directs the monster sequel for Fox. - LEONARD KLADY
-THE MOVIE CHART:
A Film now going into production:
THE KARATE KID PART III (Columbia). Shooting in Los Angeles. Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita and director John G. Avildsen return for some high-kicking sentiment. This time the student and teacher have a parting of the ways and Macchio is led astray by a rival master. Executive producer Sheldon Schrager. Producer Jerry Weintraub. Screenwriters Robert Mark Kamen. Also stars Martin Kove, Robyn Lively and Thomas Ian Griffith.