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Jeff Goldblum paints himself into a corner as an art forger in a quirky comedy movie in which the characters are often as phony as the paintings.

The movie is HBO's "Framed," which will make its debut on Sunday at 10 p.m.Goldblum is Wiley, a struggling artist who paints just like one of the masters. So much so that it lands him in a French prison, while Kate, his partner and former lover, skips off with the money from the sale of the fake painting.

After he gets out of prison he runs into Kate again. And, guess what, she wants him to paint the same Modigliani again.

"He falls in love with this girl and she gets him to do this painting," Goldblum says. "When he goes to jail he wonders if she set him up. When they meet again he thinks she's trying to set him up again. She says it's all a misunderstanding, that she loves him and this time they'll share the money. Still, he's torn by doubt."

Kristin Scott-Thomas co-stars as Kate. The movie also stars Todd Graff as Wiley's friend, a conceptual artist who sculpts life-size models of the human brain, Michael Lerner as an art-collecting gangster Kate intends to marry, James Hong as owner of a Chinese restaurant that's a biker hangout, and Abdul Salaam El Razzac as an FBI agent who looks more like a street hustler - and may well be.

"Framed," written by Gary Rosen and directed by Dean Parisot, is a deadpan farce that pokes fun at caper movies, gangster stereotypes, starving artists and pretensions of the art world.

It was filmed on location in Paris and Los Angeles.

Parisot directed the Academy Award-winning short film "Steven Wright in the Appointments of Dennis Jennings." Goldblum says he wanted to do "Framed" after seeing some of Parisot's short films.

"Dean examines some interesting ideas about original art and derivative art," he says. "This picture deals, for instance, with the idea that some people put a higher value on fake art than they do on the originals."

"Framed" is one of four movies that Goldblum has completed after working almost non-stop for a year and a half. Three feature films are due out later this year.

He spends his time now teaching acting at Playhouse West and developing a script with director David Lynch based on the life of electrical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla. Lynch is the co-creator of "Twin Peaks" and director of "Wild at Heart," which won top honors at the Cannes Film Festival last month.

Goldblum is married to Geena Davis, who won an Oscar a year ago as best supporting actress for her role in the 1988 film "The Accidental Tourist."

He says he's wanted to be an actor since a fifth-grade recital in his hometown of Pittsburgh. He sees acting as not only a creative expression but as a means of seeking freedom.

"When I saw children's theater it seemed very exciting," he says. "I wanted to know what they did backstage. Once I got started in high school, I wanted to explore the idea of being authentic in imaginary circumstances. There are some schools of thought that an actor dons a mask. But I think that an actor should reveal himself in a realistic and passionate way that allows him to unmask.

"In real life, when you're off the stage, there is an obligation to pretend to be something you are not. That seems to be the rule. You can't really be yourself. You can't do what you want to do, which is tell the truth and be free-spirited ."