This summer, there didn't seem to be enough good summer movies to go around; except for "Rambo" and "Back to the Future," the summer box office totals simply didn't measure up to previous years. And this fall, most of the serious fall movies have failed to interest moviegoers; apart from "Commando," a week or so of "Invasion U.S.A." and maybe "Jagged Edge," they've performed pretty dismally, keeping the industry in the doldrums.
Now, problems apparently are cropping up with more and more of the films that are supposed to bail out the studios come Christmas. Last week Universal delayed Richard Benjamin's "The Money Pit," and the latest film to be dropped from its planned December opening is Richard Pryor's semiautobiographical, semifictional "Jo Jo Dancer -- Your Life Is Calling." Originally slated to open Dec. 13, the film now won't be out until next spring -- because, says Columbia Pictures, it's "physically impossible" for Pryor to finish postproduction work in time. The physical impossibilities may have something to do with the eleventh-hour reshooting recently done on the film . . .
That change leaves Columbia without a big-breaking December movie, though it has the Mikhail Baryshnikov/Gregory Hines "White Knights" opening in November and will distribute "A Chorus Line" to a small number of theaters at Christmas. Some are speculating that the studio will move Blake Edwards' "A Fine Mess" or Walter Hill's "Crossroads" into the "Jo Jo Dancer" slot -- but the Edwards film had already been moved from December to March, and Hill may not be able to ready "Crossroads" in time . . . Adding to the problem with "Crossroads" is that it's currently being sneak-previewed in two different versions: one has a happy ending, the other doesn't . . .
Speaking of endings, Monty Python member and "Time Bandits" director Terry Gilliam has been battling Universal over his new "Brazil," which the studio says is too long and Gilliam says can't be cut without ruining its conclusion. The latest skirmish took place a week ago at USC, where Gilliam showed up to address a group of film students and show his version of the movie, which stars Robert De Niro. Gilliam's question-and-answer session with the students was constantly interrupted by phone calls from Universal's lawyers, who said the studio had to approve all screenings. Gilliam argued that it was a private screening, but Universal President Sidney Sheinberg finally delivered an unequivocal "no" -- even to the director's request to show a few clips. Gilliam's contract with the studio called for a film no longer than 125 minutes; a version that won favorable reaction at Cannes was half an hour longer than that, and his trimmed-down "American cut" is a still unacceptable 131 minutes . . .
This Sunday, rock singer-turned-movie star David Lee Roth is holding an open casting call for his upcoming film "Crazy From the Heat," which takes its title from a record by the colorful former lead singer for Van Halen. But as anybody who's seen Roth's videos will attest, he'll be looking for more than just acting experience.
Roth took out a full-page ad in Daily Variety this week, emblazoned with the "Crazy From the Heat" logo and headlined "WE WANT YOU!" Who's this "you" he's looking for? First off, you have to be female: "If you are a woman," the ad reads, "and you think you have an unusual character face or a beautiful body, or if you have an unusually beautiful face or a character body or any combination of the above . . . then you're perfect!" He goes on to say that you don't have to be in the actor's union -- but you've gotta bring a photo, and "beauty types must bring bikini." And even if you're not chosen, there's a bonus in it: "Everyone," the ad promises in big type, "will be seen by Roth and cowriter and director Pete Angelus . . ."
Or if that's not to your taste, you could always try out for what's described in a casting call as an "untitled feature." This one's looking for "experienced male and female Asian gymnasts, able to do a variety of stunts on trampoline and/or high wire," and also "female Asian martial artists." Experience with weapons, it adds, is "essential." Hope they find what they're looking for.