South Africa isn't the only country to be surprisingly open to a controversial movie of late. Not long after that country's government bowed to pressure from Universal Studios and decided to allow "Cry Freedom" to be shown uncensored in integrated movie theaters, the East German government lifted a 20-year ban on Heiner Carow's "The Russians Are Coming." The film, made in the late 1960s, centers on a young Nazi who causes the death of a Soviet POW in Prussia.

By the way, the South African decision on "Cry Freedom" reportedly came because white leaders were worried that Universal would turn their refusal into an international cause ce'le`bre -- but they're hardly in the clear, because Universal production chief Tom Pollock now says the company will be as aggressive and confrontational as possible in its marketing, including using quotes from Stephen Biko in its ads. The South African press is forbidden to quote Biko in news stories.

Fakery by Request

He made his name forging art, then went to jail, then became a well-known art critic, but now he's being kept busy by the film industry. In 1968, David Stein was convicted of painting counterfeit Marc Chagall canvases (he was also caught with phony Picassos, but unlike Chagall, that artist refused to testify); he now lives in Montreal, where director Alan Rudolph hired him to paint a few counterfeits for "The Moderns," Rudolph's upcoming film about the art world of Paris in the 1920s. And now Armand Julian Productions is planning a movie based on Stein's life. To that end, the producers have hired Stein to be technical adviser -- and they've also asked him for about 100 new paintings for the movie.

Two From a Trilogy

"Ironweed" is already generating a fair amount of Oscar talk, albeit mostly sight unseen -- and about the time the movie opens next week, novelist turned screen writer William Kennedy is expected to deliver a rewritten script to "Legs," a planned film version of the first of the novels in Kennedy's "Albany Trilogy." ("Ironweed" is the third.) Florida financier Joseph H. Kanter, the executive producer of "Ironweed," is developing "Legs," though he won't start casting or looking for a director until after he receives Kennedy's new script ... At the same time, Kanter is working on a remake of Elia Kazan's 1957 film "A Face in the Crowd"; at one point the word was that Kanter wanted Whoopi Goldberg to play the role of a rube who becomes a television star (Andy Griffith played the part in the original), but Kanter says he's now considering Don Johnson in that part and Goldberg as his scheming manager.

Thicke's Early Rock

In his television series "Growing Pains," Alan Thicke once used amusingly dated footage of the real rock 'n' roll band he performed with many years ago in Canada. And now he may have a chance to show off that film on the big screen: Thicke will play a former rock 'n' roller in his first American movie, "Return of the Kiwis." Produced by "Risky Business" producer Steve Tisch, the movie is about a long-defunct rock band that reunites after one of its songs becomes a hit via a movie sound-track album ... Director Leonard Nimoy's "Three Men and a Baby" is a solid hit for the Walt Disney company, and Disney has responded the way it usually does for those involved in its hits: It has given Nimoy other jobs, fast. He'll direct a family drama titled "The Good Mother," and later a French-set coming-of-age picture called "The Blue Train." All this work means that "Star Trek V" won't start until late next year.