Woody Allen has signed a three-picture deal with Orion Pictures, which isn't really news: for the past several years Allen has been making his films for that company, usually under three-picture deals. But in addition to the standard clauses -- the contract calls for Allen to make at least one film a year, and to star in two of the three movies -- this pact has a new wrinkle prohibiting Orion from releasing any of the films in South Africa.
What Allen refers to as "atrocious racial policies" is, of course, the reason for his refusal to supply that country's movie theaters. At a time when Hollywood is under increasing pressure to follow suit, a statement from Allen says he hopes the move "might encourage other filmmakers to think about doing the same . . ." But it'll take a while for the restriction to take effect, since Allen's next film -- "Hannah and Her Sisters," due out early next year -- was made under his previous deal with Orion, and thus is not subject to the new deal . . .
French actor/sex symbol Gerard Depardieu has a new film due to begin shooting this fall. It's called "A Woman or Two." One of the women in question is Sigourney Weaver, who will move to that project after costarring with Michael Caine in "Half Moon Street." Another woman involved is considerably more offbeat, though: "A Woman or Two" marks the film debut of everybody's favorite TV sex therapist, Dr. Ruth Westheimer . . .
Is the movie world ready for a grown man who wears ill-fitting suits and bow ties and acts like a 7-year-old? It sure is, says the advance word on "Pee-wee's Big Adventure." Opening nationwide on Aug. 8, the comedy is the film debut of Paul Reubens, who created the character of Pee-wee Herman while in the improvisational comedy troupe the Goundlings and who now seems to live in character.
According to the credits, the movie stars Pee-wee Herman as himself, though Reubens is credited for the screenplay; in addition, for some time Reubens has been doing all his interviews as Pee-wee, not Paul. Though the film -- which deals with Pee-wee's search for his lost bicycle -- seems like a dubious commercial bet, in test engagements in five cities (including San Diego, Denver and Columbia, S.C.) it did remarkably well, picking up per-screen averages that placed it among the country's top movies.
Warner Bros. is hardly hurting this summer. They've already released "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome," "Pale Rider," "The Goonies" and last weekend's big hit, the unanimously panned but highly profitable "National Lampoon's European Vacation," which had the third-biggest opening of any film this summer. Now Warners is banking on a substantial sleeper hit -- and to welcome Pee-wee with the appropriate fanfare, it's tossing a premiere party tonight to which it promises to attract grown-ups like Daryl Hannah, Tom Cruise, Jeff Bridges, David Lee Roth and Dolly Parton . . .
They may be the only folks around who could get the best of Rambo in hand-to-hand combat: Mattel's "Masters of the Universe" toys will soon have their very own feature film, courtesy of RKO Pictures and the Edward Pressman Film Corp.
A couple of the toys have already made their movie debuts in the ill-fated "Secret of the Sword," which was spliced together from TV episodes featuring He-Man and She-Ra; but the new film -- which will also be titled "Masters of the Universe" -- will be a live-action adventure, not a cartoon, and will revolve around two kids who encounter some of the superheroes from the mythical Eternia. It's budgeted at $22 million and will be shot in Mexico as part of a two-year agreement between RKO and that country's government. Mattel will also have a hand in the film, but only to the extent that the toy company has the right of approval over the first draft of the screenplay -- and, of course, the right to turn anything or anybody from the movie into toys . . .
Michael Cimino has kept a low profile since his "Heaven's Gate" debacle, but the director is now creeping back into the public eye. First, UA executive-turned-author Steven Bach captured lots of Hollywood ears with his upcoming behind-the-scenes book "Final Cut" on the making of Cimino's massive flop. No sooner had people begun talking about that book's unflattering revelations than Cimino got a Sunset Strip billboard for his upcoming "Year of the Dragon"; the sign features the director's name more prominently than any of the movie's stars. And with "Year of the Dragon" just beginning to make the preview-screening rounds, producer Dino is so happy with the movie that he's reportedly already asked Cimino to direct a film version of Truman Capote's book "Handcarved Coffins" . . .