Peter Bogdanovich's "Mask" has already been touted as a resounding return to form for the director of "The Last Picture Show" and "Paper Moon," but that doesn't mean the director is completely happy with the film that's due to open March 8.
Bogdanovich planned to use four songs by Bruce Springsteen -- who was impressed enough by a rough cut of the film to offer his songs to the director -- in scenes involving Eric Stoltz, who plays a facially deformed teen-ager raised by Cher and informally adopted by a motorcycle gang. But CBS Records demanded an exceptionally high payment, plus an unprecedented share of the videocassette profits, for the use of the songs, a price that Universal Pictures was unwilling to pay.
Bogdanovich submitted preview prints of "Mask" to Universal before leaving the country at the end of last year, expecting the studio to iron out the problems with CBS -- instead, the picture now features the music of rocker Bob Seger. Rather than accept the substitution, Bogdanovich this week sued Universal and producer Martin Starger for $11 million, claiming breach of contract in Universal's substitution of "another music artist that Bogdanovich feels is inappropriate for 'Mask.' "
The day the suit was filed, the Hollywood Reporter ran a review that praised the songs, but Seger clearly isn't as big a drawing card -- the Reporter spelled his name "Seeger" . . .
Also on the rock circuit: Producer Zev Braun is cowriting the projected next film for Prince, the pint-sized rocker who made such a cinematic splash with "Purple Rain." The new film, budgeted at $15 million and described by Braun as an allegory about man's duality, stylistically "somewhat reminiscent of 'West Side Story,' " is titled "Prince of Darkness and the Morning Star" . . .
A large Sunset Strip billboard advertising the new Neil Simon-scripted comedy "The Slugger's Wife" shows stars Michael O'Keefe and Rebecca DeMornay embracing, with a tag line that promises a film about "two of America's favorite pastimes." Maybe Columbia Pictures is trying to start a guessing game -- nowhere on the sign does it say that those pastimes are baseball and rock 'n' roll, the respective professions of the film's two stars and an angle that had been played up in early publicity. Not that a little mystery couldn't help, mind you. Reaction to early screenings has been general dismay among Neil Simon fans, and loads of technical criticism from baseball and rock fans . . .
The leading man is a classical guitar student at the Juilliard School of Music. The film itself is described by its director as "picaresque, serious comedy in the 'Paper Moon' genre." It hardly sounds like a Walter Hill movie, but the director responsible for such kinetic, action-filled films as "48 Hrs.," "Streets of Fire" and "The Warriors" is setting his sights on something calmer and more refined. In mid-April he begins work on "Crossroads," set to shoot in New York, Mississippi and L.A. Ralph Macchio plays the guitar student, and Hill is looking for an actor to fill another chief role, that of an old blues musician . . .
A few years back, actor George Segal played a father trying to deal with an unexpected black son in the flop comedy "Carbon Copy." Now he's getting ready to play a father who tries to deal with his son's homosexuality in "Out of the Closet," a film to be directed by Mel Frank, who also directed Segal in the hit "Touch of Class" and the less successful "The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox." In the new film Segal plays a politician -- naturally, the film finds his son emerging from the closet at election time . . .
Let's-not-and-say-we-did department: Orion Pictures took out newspaper ads trumpeting the 11 Oscar nominations received by "Amadeus," and some of those ads listed Jeffrey Jones as a Supporting Actor contender. Jones was in the running for a nomination, but he didn't get one -- as somebody at Orion sheepishly realized a week ago, when the studio ran a retraction . . .