"It's the best script I've ever written, and I know that someday we're going to get it made," said director and writer Paul Schrader more than a year ago. Now, it looks as if that someday has arrived: Universal has agreed to distribute "The Last Temptation of Christ," and the Martin Scorsese-directed film is slated to start shooting in Morocco this month.

In 1984, Paramount was set to back the movie drawn from Nikos Kazantzakis' controversial 1966 novel, but backed out under considerable fire from religious groups who objected to the novel's portrait of a Christ who initially doesn't realize he's divine and who, while he's on the cross, has a lengthy fantasy about marrying and leading a normal, quiet life.

The subject matter scared off potential financiers for years, but Scorsese has reportedly secured the money from unnamed independent investors. To keep it at the $10 million budget, the director and his cast (Willem Dafoe as Jesus, Barbara Hershey as Mary Magdalene, Harvey Keitel as Judas and Sting as Pontius Pilate) will all work for scale.

All About 'Baby'

On the face of it, "Baby Boom" sounds like a classic "high concept" movie -- i.e., a film whose premise can be summed up in one attention-getting sentence: "Diane Keaton's a high-powered businesswoman whose life falls apart when she inherits a baby." But United Artists has apparently decided that it needs a lot more than one sentence to sell the picture to moviegoers. So instead of 30- or 60-second TV ads, the company is going with two-minute ads, the longest ever used to advertise a movie. In 30 markets around the country (including Washington), UA will be showing the entire "Baby Boom" theatrical trailer on television, at a cost of about $700,000 ...

"Baby Boom" isn't the only upcoming film in which young urban professionals find their lives disrupted by an infant: "Three Men and a Baby," Disney's Tom Selleck-Ted Danson-Steve Guttenberg remake of the French "Three Men and a Cradle," has been getting exceptional word of mouth in its first screenings, and its release has been moved up from December to Thanksgiving. Much of the buzz centers on a predictably crowd-pleasing scene in which a baffled Selleck and Guttenberg try to change a diaper, and the baby urinates on their couch. To shoot that scene, a tube was run from a jar of apple juice, through Selleck's sleeve to the baby. But when they shot the scene, they reportedly didn't need the juice -- on the first take, the baby did what the script called for, right on cue.

Popular Plots

Incidentally, "Three Men and a Baby" and "Baby Boom" aren't the only upcoming films that share premises. In "Like Father, Like Son," due out today, Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron play a father and son who somehow swap minds. In "Big," now shooting in New York, Tom Hanks plays a 35-year-old man who has a 13-year-old inside his body. And in "18 Again," which is just getting underway, George Burns portrays an 81-year-old who lives the life of his 18-year-old grandson for two weeks.

De Laurentiis' Cutbacks

For weeks, rumors have been circulating that the financially troubled De Laurentiis Entertainment Group is on the verge of massive layoffs. New DEG Production President Howard W. Koch Jr. steadfastly denies that firings are in the works, but the company has reportedly canceled its plans to make "One Saliva Bubble" with "Blue Velvet" director David Lynch. While "Blue Velvet" didn't make much money for DEG, it significantly helped the company's image -- and since its release, DEG had seemed determined to sustain that relationship, first agreeing to back Lynch's "Ronnie Rocket" and then green-lighting "One Saliva Bubble" when the director changed his plans. The comedy was slated to star Steve Martin, and it reportedly dealt with the chain reaction that's set off when a saliva bubble lands on the console of a nuclear power plant.