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CRYSTAL SAYS IT WAS NO BALL PLUNGING BOLDLY INTO RIVER

Billy Crystal learned the hard way that writing about fording an icy river in a cattle drive and actually doing it are two brrrry different things.

"On the script page, crossing a river looks easy," said Crystal, in New Orleans for a preview of his new movie, "City Slickers.""But you get to the edge and the water is 40 degrees," he continued. "There are rapids with sharp rocks underneath, and trout coming to the surface saying, `I wouldn't go in there if I were you.' "

Still, Crystal said, he felt it was important to do the stunts himself because "audiences are too smart these days - they know when you're faking a shot."

Crystal wrote as well as played the lead in the film, which is about a 39-year-old New York City radio ad salesman who goes on a cowboy vacation with two of his best friends.