Anne Thompson

''The Frighteners'' has plenty of scare but no blood

No seas of blood. No hills of guts.

Peter Jackson went out of his way to make The Frighteners a goreless PG-13, but the ratings board found the film so popcorn-flying scary, it gave it an R anyway. The problem? The effects really are special. ”My natural tendency is to want to deliver the goods,” says the director who made clay figurines creepy in 1994’s Heavenly Creatures and turned an overbearing mom into a house-size zombie for 1992’s Dead Alive. ”To suspend people’s disbelief, you want a lot of effects.”

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”Zoloft, been good to know you,” quips one player in I’m Losing You, Bruce Wagner’s living satire of a dying Hollywood, which — like the L.A. screenwriter’s first novel, Force Majeure — is stuffed with vivid snapshots of Tinseltown angst and Hollywood-speak. ICM VP Donny Ribkin seeks oblivion with two men in an Impala. Celebrity dermatologist Leslie Trott’s vanity plates read lesismor; his buddies are either ”gay Mafia molls” or ”H.I.V.I.P.’s” who hang out at the H-Ivy.

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Jodie Foster sues PolyGram

On the surface it looked like your typical Hollywood lawsuit: Miffed star sues film company after being dropped from a project. But in this case, the star was Jodie Foster, and the company was PolyGram, which has a development deal with Egg Pictures, the production house that’s run by Foster. That the actress-director would resort to an acrimonious legal action against a business partner for losing a supporting part is, to say the least, eye-opening.

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Disney's ''Hunchback'' has murder, lust, and corruption

In The Little Mermaid, Disney gave us adorable crustaceans crooning about life ”Under the Sea.” In Beauty and the Beast, the studio gave us dancing teacups singing ”Be Our Guest.” And now, in its latest animated musical, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (opening June 21), audiences will be treated to a catchy little ditty called ”Hellfire,” sung by the villainous judge Claude Frollo as he fantasizes about the curvaceous Gypsy Esmeralda belly dancing inside his fireplace. ”Hellfire, hellfire, there’s a fire in my skin,” he moans.

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Cannes Film Festival has stars, movies, and nudity

”I could…make you understood all over the world,” says Scottish star Ewan McGregor to Taiwanese actress Vivian Wu in The Pillow Book, directed by Englishman Peter Greenaway. And just as McGregor and Wu lovingly apply calligraphy to each other’s bodies in the kinkily sumptuous polyglot epic, the overriding theme of the 49th International Festival of Film at Cannes was getting naked — via words, sex, and emotion — and getting noticed for it. Which isn’t difficult on the Riviera in May with the whole film world watching.

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Cannes do spirit

The liveliest screening at the Cannes film festival last week involved a big-name studio chief, a high-profile director, and a host of hot young stars. What it didn’t involve was a movie. New York Knicks superfan Spike Lee, who was on the Riviera to promote his phone-sex comedy, Girl 6, arranged with a Cote d’Azur satellite company to tap into the broadcast signal for last weekend’s play-off games between the Knicks and their arch-rivals, the Chicago Bulls.

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New rules of the game for film releases

With more than 100 movies opening in the first four months of 1996, most of Hollywood’s major releases had just a weekend or two in which to sink or swim, and that glug-glug-glug you hear coming from theaters suggests that most of them could have used some breathing lessons. Every Friday, four or five new movies dove into the marketplace and drowned; last weekend alone new offerings from Sharon Stone and David Schwimmer tanked, and even Pamela Anderson Lee couldn’t stay afloat.

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Warner Bros. suffers from lukewarm spring grosses

As the chairmen and co-CEOs of Warner Bros., Bob Daly and Terry Semel are used to having their movies talked about. What they’re not used to is having their movies sniped about. But business has been anything but usual since last November, when Time Warner chairman Gerald M. Levin rewarded their 15-year stewardship of Warner Bros. by entrusting the team with the troubled Warner Music division. The promotion was all the sweeter because they replaced a longtime rival, former HBO chief Michael Fuchs, whose tumultuous six-month tenure atop Warner Music ended with his dismissal.

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Timeline of Fox's ''Planet of the Apes'' remake

And speaking of cheesy ’70s movies…

When Twentieth Century Fox decided three years ago to remake Planet of the Apes, the decision could have been made by a chimp. After all, the 1968 sci-fi classic starring Charlton Heston spawned a ’70s phenomenon that included four sequels and a TV series, and after two decades of dormancy the franchise seemed ripe to be exploited again. But what could have become a retooled cash machine instead became a monkey on the studio’s back. What happened? A reconstruction of the events:

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