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Burt Reynolds returns to film

Burt Reynolds returns to film — The actor plays a sex-crazed congressman in ”Striptease”

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Thanks to Pulp Fiction, John Travolta is so ”back” it’s hard to remember he ever left — except if you’re plugged into the Hollywood gossip network that has made identifying ”the next Travolta” a new favorite pastime. The buzz usually doesn’t build until a film is completed — this fall, expect to hear about the return of Treat Williams in Miramax’s Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead and Flashdance‘s Jennifer Beals in Four Rooms — but all Burt Reynolds had to do to start insiders talking about a comeback was sign on to play a dirty old pol. Reynolds, 59, landed the role of sex-crazed Florida congressman Dave Dilbeck in the upcoming Striptease, starring Demi Moore, beating out higher-profile feature players Michael Caine and Gene Hackman for the part.

Is this the start of a Reynolds comeback? ”The thing about Burt is that he’s had so many,” says Martin Shafer, president of Castle Rock Pictures, which is producing Striptease. ”Burt gave some great performances in films like Starting Over, Deliverance, and Hooper. Hot and cold can come and go, but talent is always there.” Miramax cochairman Harvey Weinstein agrees. ”Burt is finally getting the chance to be the actor he always wanted to be, not the movie star,” he says.

How does Reynolds feel about the buzz? He’s already taking a star stance: He couldn’t be reached for comment. As for John Travolta — remember him? — he stars next in a Reynoldsian role, as charming tough guy Chili Palmer in the October comedy-thriller Get Shorty.

Additional reporting by Judy Brennan