SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY It's a harrowing case of life and art imitating each other: After the Columbia crash on Feb. 1, Paramount scrambled to pull the trailer for its sci-fi picture ''The Core'' because it included shots of a shuttle plummeting to earth. Despite the bad timing, the studio isn't postponing its March 28 release (as 20th Century Fox did last fall when the Colin Farrell thriller ''Phone Booth'' mirrored the D.C.-area sniper attacks). ''We want to be very, very respectful,'' says studio head Sherry Lansing. ''Nothing in the movie is like [the Columbia disaster]. No shuttle crashes in the movie.'' In fact, the shuttle does crash-land in an L.A. river basin. But because, unlike in the real-life tragedy, the crew in the film survives, Lansing defends her decision to stick to the original release date, clarifying: ''Nobody dies, and there are no scenes of a shuttle being destroyed.''
AMOUR TO COME The romantic comedy ''How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days'' earned an impressive $49 million in its first two weeks, so it's no surprise that it may be the first in a line of frothy flicks from producer Christine Peters. Next up is ''The Other Billy Drake,'' about a heartless man who gets another chance at love, and Peters has just optioned Laren Stover's chic self-help guide, ''The Bombshell Manual of Style.'' Per Peters, the sad state of world affairs means big things for escapist comedies: ''Everybody wants a feel-good movie.''
FURTHERMORE Tim Blake Nelson is mulling over an offer to direct a film adaptation of Sylvia Plath's ''The Bell Jar,'' and considering Julia Stiles (whom he directed in 2001's ''O'') to portray the suicidal poet. But the project won't reach the finish line before ''Ted and Sylvia,'' Focus Features' Plath biopic starring Gwyneth Paltrow, which opens this fall. Unlike the morose Bell Jar, assures a Focus spokesman, ''our film is romance, romance, romance.'' Hey, does Christine Peters know about this?