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Problems for 'Leap of Faith'

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No movie has inspired more gossipmongering this season than Paramount’s Leap of Faith, the Steve Martin-Debra Winger drama about a phony faith healer. The most repeated phrases about the film, opening Dec. 18: ”A rush job.” ”Unhappy stars.” ”The hard-luck movie that prompted Paramount chairman Brandon Tartikoff to resign.”

How do such stories get started? Here’s how:

*Murmuring began last May when director Adrian Lyne refused Paramount’s demand that he deliver Indecent Proposal, the Robert Redford-Demi Moore drama, in time for a Christmas ’92 release. This left Faith — which began shooting in late June, even later than Indecent did — as the studio’s only holiday headliner. Producer Michael Manheim insists that Faith ”was always seen as a Christmas movie. It was planned out very carefully.” Yet the loss of Indecent put the pressure on Faith.

*Things got off to a bumpy start when producer Daniel Melnick (L.A. Story) bolted just before filming over a squabble with studio boss Stanley Jaffe. The official cause was money, but insiders say it was animosity between the two.

*Producer David Picker joined Manheim in assuming the reins, but the production was stressful. Martin has said publicly he’s ”ecstatic” about the finished film, but the actor recently suggested to a talent agent that, based on his Faith experience, ”he doesn’t think he’ll be making a movie with Paramount again for a while.”

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