Last time EW spoke to Peter Chelsom (''Serendipity''), the director was looking forward to a long vacation in Tuscany after the August premiere of his new movie, a remake of the 1996 graceful Japanese dance number. But then Miramax cut in and reshuffled the release schedule, tossing the director's travel plans out the window (''And I really don't want to be reminded of them right now,'' he sighs).
The party line is that Miramax moved the movie to take better advantage of the holiday awards season. But tongues wag on that the $50 million movie, in which J. Lo plays a ballroom dance teacher and Richard Gere her willing pupil, is simply a wet noodle. ''I swear to you, totally the opposite is true,'' says Chelsom. ''I've got the test scores right in front of me! It plays through the roof!'' The lousy word on the street depresses the director, but hey, things could be worse. ''All we hope is that Jennifer doesn't get divorced before Oct. 15.''
WHAT'S AT STAKE After a year of bad press and tabloid fatigue, J. Lo's derriere is on the line.