Yes, they look at things differently in Europe. Fresh from its NC-17 rating and fresh from being banned in Dedham, Mass., "Henry & June" has just been labeled by the French ratings board. Its verdict: It's suitable for viewing by anyone over 12. Director Philip Kaufman, meanwhile, says he pointed out to American ratings administrator Richard Heffner that his new movie was no more sexually explicit than his last film, the R-rated "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" -- and Heffner agreed, saying, "That should have gotten an X too." Heffner, by the way, told Kaufman that he liked both movies.
Puttnam Revisited David Puttnam is back in the belly of the beast, so to speak. Late last week, the British producer gave his first public talk in Hollywood since he was unceremoniously ousted as head of Columbia Pictures after a stormy, short-lived reign in which he tried to shake things up and in the process alienated many longtime heavyweights. Puttnam was back mostly to promote his new movie, "Memphis Belle," but in a well-attended speaking engagement he also addressed himself to what went wrong the last time he came to town. "I'm one of the few people," he said, "... who's done what they thought in the back of their minds would be the ultimate within the role they performed, and discovered they were not very good at it." The producer added that both he and the Coca-Cola Co., then owner of Columbia, "made extraordinarily tragic errors, but we made them for very good reasons."
Puttnam, incidentally, also predicted what's in store for Hollywood. The Japanese company Matsushita, he said, will succeed in its proposed buyout of the entertainment giant MCA/Universal. This will cause widespread alarm and the perception that Hollywood is being taken over by the Japanese, and in response Disney and Paramount will merge to create a huge American movie company. In the end, he said, Hollywood will consist of five enormous companies, only two of them based in the United States, and a handful of independent producers who'll be forced to handle more of the creative side of the movie industry.
Short Takes Producer Alan Marshall, best known for movies such as "Midnight Express" and "Fame," will reportedly take over production chores on "Basic Instinct," the movie being made from the most expensive script ever written. After $3 million was paid to Joe Eszterhas and $1 million to producer Irwin Winkler for the project, Carolco Pictures and director Paul Verhoeven had a falling out over the amount of sex Verhoeven wanted in the movie. Eszterhas and Winkler were told to keep their paychecks but stay away, and now Marshall will be producing when the cameras begin rolling in February. Michael Douglas stars ... Another script that was the object of big-money bidding -- and another project involving Douglas -- has had an even rockier road. A year ago, Columbia and Warner Bros. engaged in a bidding war for "Radio Flyer," a script from David Mickey Evans. Warners wanted the project for "Lethal Weapon" and "Scrooged" director Richard Donner, but Columbia won the rights by offering $1 million and telling Evans he could direct. The film went into production in June with star Rosanna Arquette, but then shut down later that month when Evans didn't see eye to eye with executive producers Rick Bieber and Douglas. At that point, Arquette walked off the project and the producers unsuccessfully tried to persuade Debra Winger to take over. When that didn't work, they hired Lorraine Bracco ("GoodFellas") and then, ironically, Richard Donner. Production has now begun again with Donner directing and co-producing, Bracco starring, and Evans as executive producer with Douglas and Bieber.
Producer Lili Fini Zanuck, who won an Academy Award earlier this year for "Driving Miss Daisy," will make her directorial debut on "Rush," a thriller based on the life of an undercover narcotics cop in Texas who became an addict when she infiltrated a drug ring. It's from a novel by former undercover officer Kim Wozencraft, who became a hot property in Hollywood before her book was even published.