He may be the biggest drawing card on the tube, but don't expect much from Bill Cosby when he hits the big screen later this month. For months, rumors have been suggesting that Cosby's Columbia release, "Leonard, Part VI," was in trouble -- and now even Cosby is admitting it's not a particularly good movie. In one cable TV interview this week, Cosby reportedly disclaimed responsibility for the comedy, saying he felt like a hired hand surrounded by unsympathetic ears.
Some stories suggest that then Columbia chief David Puttnam saw "Leonard" as the sort of big-budget, big-star Hollywood movie he hated and so saddled it with an unsuitable producer; others say Cosby's reputation for being a perfectionist scared people away.
At any rate, Cosby went public with his feelings, he said, because he doesn't want his fans to be disappointed. According to several Columbia employes who've seen "Leonard, Part VI," the star is wise to disassociate himself from what they predict will be a commercial and critical flop.
All year long, one studio has had the No. 1 and No. 2 films in the weekly box office charts -- and Thanksgiving weekend ran true to form, except that this time it wasn't Paramount Pictures with the monopoly. Buena Vista -- i.e., Disney -- had what was easily the biggest movie in the marketplace, "Three Men and a Baby," while its rerelease of "Cinderella" wound up in second place. Both films did surprisingly well: "Three Men" surpassed just about everybody's expectations by making more than $10 million. "Cinderella," meanwhile, had enough staying power in its second week to beat out the widely promoted debut of John Hughes' "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."
Adrian Lyne, director of "Fatal Attraction," recently denied reports that the movie will be released in Japan with its original ending, in which Glenn Close's character commits suicide in a way that implicates Michael Douglas. Japanese preview audiences apparently preferred that ending, but Lyne says the movie's not being changed, because "I don't think you should pander to an audience." That leaves open the question of what the director was doing when he shot the movie's current ending, a last-minute addition after Paramount found American audiences didn't like the suicide ending.
Longer Is Better
Unlike "Fatal Attraction," "The Sicilian" will be released in some European countries in a version different from its American release. Scandinavian distributors of the Michael Cimino film didn't like the 115-minute version made by the Samuel Goldwyn company after a bitter battle with Cimino, but they liked the 145-minute cut made by Cimino -- so that's the one that will be released in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland ... Tales of obsessive excesses were rampant around Werner Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo," the story of a real-life obsessive who built a steamship and then transported it through the mountains and jungles of South America to the water; Herzog, it seemed, did the same thing so his movie would be realistic. Now, Canadian director Philip Borsos has bought the rights to a similar story: Borsos, who directed "The Grey Fox" and "The Mean Season," is adapting Andreas Schroeder's book "Dustship Glory," about a Canadian prairie farmer who built his own steamship and then transported it overland to the Hudson Bay. The movie will be titled "Bethune: The Making of a Hero," and it's safe to bet that Borsos won't be quite as fanatic as Herzog was.