Will it be genremeister John Carpenter directing Chevy Chase in "The Memoirs of an Invisible Man," based on the 1987 Harry Saint novel, for which Warner Bros. paid a reported $1.3 million? That's the word from sources close to the project, which is expected to begin shooting in the fall.
Described to us as "a slightly quirky, dark comedy," the film will be devoid of the usual broad gags Chase is known for. It has Chase playing a sophisticated New York securities analyst, rendered invisible by an industrial accident."What happens afterward is humorous," says a source. "But there's also a serious theme. . . . Chevy will discover that, in a sense, he's been invisible all along - because his life lacked love, and substance."
Dana Olsen and Robert Collector scripted. Bruce Bodner, Chase's partner, will produce. -PAT H. BROESKE
-Tale of Two Cities:
HOLLYWOOD - When pregnant Carol Stuart was murdered in Boston last year - and a black man, William Bennett, was falsely accused - the city was gripped by controversy and thrust into an unflattering national spotlight. Now the producer of a CBS movie based on the sensational case has decided to lense the film primarily in Chicago, with only a few scenes to be shot in Beantown.
The reason: lingering tension in Boston's Mission Hill district, where police rounded up herds of black suspects, accusing Bennett, before Stuart's own husband - white and upscale - became the prime suspect in his wife's homicide, and committed suicide.
"The case inflamed the (Boston) community," explains director Jerrold Freedman, speaking of the controversy surrounding the aggressive tactics of police investigators in the black neighborhood. "Feelings were bruised. Families were traumatized. We don't want to step on anyone's feelings if we don't have to."
Producer Arnold Shapiro insists that the move to Chicago was not motivated by fears about the community's response. "We're not `afraid,' that would be a totally inappropriate word," Shapiro says. "We decided it might be insensitive to shoot all of the movie in Boston - particularly the murder scene and other scenes that involve the Mission Hill district. . . . There has never been an official conclusion about whether the police operated properly . . . it's a sensitive area."
Shapiro's "Rescue 911" camera captured the murder scene on tape after Charles Stuart called for help from his car, telling police that a black assailant had shot him and his wife. In January, when his story began to unravel, he took his own life.
"We've been researching this since the murder happened last October," Shapiro says. "You could wait and wait and wait (for an official resolution), and five years from now there might still be investigations under way. There comes a time when you know you have enough information to go on - and we do."
No casting or start date has been set, but Shapiro expects to deliver the movie to CBS before summer's end. The script features the character - and point of view - of real-life Boston Herald reporter Michelle Caruso, one of the media members who doubted Charles Stuart's story from the beginning. - STACY JENEL SMITH
HOLLYWOOD - Director Robert Benton and writer Tom Stoppard are teaming to bring to the screen E.L. Doctorow's 1989 novel "Billy Bathgate," winner of the National Book Critics' Circle Award.
Set in New York, circa 1935, it mixes fictional and non-fictional characters as it traces the rise of the fictitious title character - a 15-year-old poor boy from the Bronx - and the fall of his gangster mentor, real-life Dutch Schultz.
Arlene Donovan - who's teamed with Benton on four previous projects - produces for Disney-Touchstone.
Will Doctorow be involved?
"One wants him to be, yes," says Donovan. "I don't know exactly what his title will be. Let's say he's our muse."
As for Benton exploring a gangster theme: "This won't be a machine gun-type gangster film. It will be literary - about characters.
"But," she adds, "you shouldn't be surprised that Robert's doing this. After all, he did do `Bonnie and Clyde' (which he co-wrote, in 1967), and he is from Texas." - PAT H. BROESKE
-Harlem in Hungary:
HOLLYWOOD - HBO Pictures vice president Ilene Kahn, just back from Budapest, where HBO's $8 million "Josephine Baker" is being filmed, says that title star Lynn Whitfield shot two versions of the acts that propelled Baker to fame in the 1920s: one in which the actress faithfully re-creates Baker's semi-nudity, the other covered up for future syndication and some foreign markets.
Whitfield, who portrays the legendary singer from age 18 to 68, lost 20 pounds while training for her role (she's doing all her own dancing), Kahn says. But when the actress reported for work in Budapest, director Brian Gibson decided she was too streamlined for the period - and asked her to gain back 12 pounds.
Gibson's biggest challenge has been finding enough black extras. "For the past two weeks, we've needed several hundred extras for scenes re-creating a Harlem nightclub of the '30s and a segregated theater in Paris," Kahn explains. "We had to import black students from universities in Vienna to become our audiences. Africans, French, Cubans. . . . They all spoke different languages.
"And any dark-skinned persons we saw on the streets, we approached." -STACY JENEL SMITH
-Quibbles & Bits:
-Corey Feldman, who faces a preliminary hearing May 17 on two felony counts of possession of drugs for sale, has picked his next film role: According to his agent, he'll star in "Scout's Honor" for Denver-based Wild River Productions - playing an Eagle Scout who discovers a cache of drugs and winds up being pursued by drug dealers. Production begins June 4 in Washington.
-Feiffer vs. Warners: A Problem With Bugs:
HOLLYWOOD - Bugs Bunny's popularity is largely due to his irreverent, even anarchic charm, but Warner Bros. apparently believes the Wascally Wabbit should be treated with respect. For the just-released Bugs Bunny magazine - part of the studio's media campaign to celebrate the character's 50th birthday and push Bugs merchandise - Warners commissioned tributes from some of America's top comic-strip artists (Jim Davis, Charles Schulz and Matt Groening among them). But Jules Feiffer is conspicuously absent - Warners turned down the Pulitzer Prize-winner's cartoon.
"They asked me for a drawing, then rejected it with the sort of excuse I've been getting for years: `We love it, but we think it would offend other people,' " Feiffer says. "They said they were afraid it might offend Warren Beatty, because I refer to his age, and Mel Blanc's family, because I announce the fact that Mel is dead" (a fact that's mentioned at least twice in articles in the mag).
"It's one of those loony-bin situations that recur in America. You've got a character whose style is based on irreverence, but when you celebrate him, the one thing you can't be is irreverent. That attitude proves Bugs is dead and in the hands of the morticians."
Warner Bros. representatives had no comment.
The final irony: Feiffer says someone from Warners bought the original of his cartoon - after it had been rejected. - CHARLES SOLOMON
HOLLYWOOD - American Film magazine once called it one of the 10 most famous unproduced scripts in Hollywood; it was almost made several times, including once with Al Pacino. Now, finally, "America Me," written by Floyd Mutrux 14 years ago, is going before the cameras this year. Edward James Olmos, who has rewritten Mutrux's script, will direct and star in this drama about gangs in the U.S. penal system. Robert M. Young will produce and Universal will distribute in a negative pick-up deal.
Amanda Plummer and Mercedes Ruehl join Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges in Tri-Star's "The Fisher King," which director Terry Gilliam starts filming in New York May 21 for producers Lynda Obst and Debra Hill. Tom Waits and Harry Shearer have been cast in cameo roles. In the comic drama, written by Richard LaGravenese, Bridges plays a cynical shock deejay whose life is transformed by Williams, a charismatic ex-professor who lives on the streets of Manhattan and sees the world in medieval terms.
Joanne Whalley-Kilmer will star in "Early Days After" as an English housewife having trouble readjusting to her husband's return from World War II. Simon Langton will direct the Landmark Entertainment Group production written by Trevor Bentham and produced by Peter Waggs. Production gets under way this summer in the U.K.
Andrew McCarthy has been set for Columbia's "The Year of the Gun," a political thriller set in Rome during the Red Brigade terrorism in 1978. John Frankenheimer directs David Ambroise's script for producer Ed Pressman. Filming gets under way in Italy this August.
Carrie Snodgress will play Powers Boothe's wife in Orion's "Blue Sky," a drama about army life in the '50s, which also stars Jessica Lange and Tommy Lee Jones. Chris O'Donnell, who played Lange's son in "Men Don't Leave," plays her daughter's boyfriend in this film. Amy Locrane from "Cry-Baby" will play one of Lange's daughters. Director Tony Richardson calls for action later this month in Alabama and Florida.
Greg Louganis joins Traci Lords - in her first lead role - John Vernon, Nick Cassavetes, Martin Kove and Joe Cortese in Abba Entertainment's mystery whodunit, "Object of Desire." Director Joel Sieberg rolls cameras for producer Jessica Rains (Claude Rains' daughter) in Belize May 14.
Jennifer Tilly has a cameo in Oliver Stone's "The Doors," currently shooting in Los Angeles for Carolco.
Katharine Ross, Mia Sara, Steve Bauer and John Beck will star in Propoganda Films' "A Row of Crows," a murder-mystery with a love triangle written and to be directed by J.S. Cardone. The film, produced by Carol Kottenbrook, gets under way in Yuma, Ariz., in early June.
Rachel Talalay, who produced "Hair Spray," "Cry-Baby" and two in New Line's "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise, now gets a chance to direct with "Nightmare 6." The film is scheduled to shoot in early September.
Moshe Mizrahi, whose directing career in Israel and France has resulted in three films nominated for Oscars as best foreign film, including the Oscar-winning "Madame Rosa," has come to Los Angeles to prepare for his first American film. "Paradise Man," filming this fall mostly in New York (with some locations in France) for Rosa-Guy Productions. It is based on a detective novel by Jerome Charyn, an American writer more celebrated in France than in the United States. - KIRK HONEYCUTT
-The Movie Chart:
Films going into production:
BLUE SKY (Prairie). Shooting in Alabama and Florida. Jessica Lange continues her serious work in this study of a '60s Southern Army base. Tommy Lee Jones is her husband and Powers Boothe her extracurricular lover in the Tony Richardson-directed comedy-drama. Producer Bob Solo. Screenwriter Rama Blum.
CLUB FED (Rumar). Shooting in Los Angeles. Burt Young, Judy Landers, Karen Black and Allen Garfield star in this offbeat look at prisons that house the ultra rich. Obviously a Club Med spoof.