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''Rising Sun'''s script troubles

”Rising Sun”’s script troubles — Michael Crichton and Philip Kaufman are engaged in a war of words over the new Sean Connery movie’s screenplay

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It looks like Rising Sun, the film based on Michael Crichton’s contentious 1992 best-seller, is already raising temperatures. First, the Twentieth Century Fox release starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes was criticized during filming by Asian-American groups for its premise of a Japanese takeover of U.S. businesses. Now comes a public war of the words between director Philip Kaufman (Henry & June) and Crichton, who also penned the script.

Trouble began when Crichton, who was reportedly paid $1 million for the film rights, delivered his screenplay. ”It wasn’t about content,” says Crichton. ”It was about working methods. Phil kept refining the first part of the script, and I kept asking if we could just do a complete [revision].” After five rewrites with a coscreenwriter, Crichton walked.

”People get rich and yell at those who don’t do things their way,” says Kaufman. ”He should have done 100 rewrites. When I worked on The Unbearable Lightness of Being with Milan Kundera, who’s a real writer, his first word was ‘eliminate.”’

The studio feels the film, due to open July 30, won’t be hurt by the conflict. Crichton, who also cowrote the screenplay to Jurassic Park, is reserving judgment. ”I heard the preview went well,” says the author, who feels passionately about the Japanese threat to American business. ”At some point I’ll be able to pay my $7 and see what I think.”