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Entertainment news for July 19

”The Eighth Day,” Alicia Silverstone, and Belle made the news this week

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Title Du Jour: Columbia’s upcoming futuristic thriller The Eighth Day, starring Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, won’t be ready until 1997. So imagine the studio’s chagrin when it discovered that it was already earning raves in France — sort of. One of Europe’s big hits is Le Huitieme Jour (The Eighth Day), a Belgian film that got a boost when its stars, Daniel Auteuil (Manon of the Spring) and Pascal Duquenne, shared the Best Actor prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. So what’s a movie to do? Eighth Day writer-director Andrew Niccol, who says both films’ titles were inspired by the Book of Genesis, is searching for another name and trying to console himself by saying ”I always thought it a ‘working title.”’

Production Note: Katzenberg, Ovitz, Silverstone?! Attention, power-list makers: Alicia Silverstone, 19, doesn’t just star in Excess Baggage; she’s also producing the action-adventure film — the first in her $10 million, two-picture deal with Columbia. ”I’m overwhelmed with it,” says the miniskirted mogul. ”Every day I put on about 15 years.” Though the actress has shown that she’s far from clueless about her new duties, Columbia president of worldwide production Barry Josephson says she’s had help from producer Bill Borden. ”It’s not like she’s up there on her own making a movie,” says Josephson. ”But her instincts about the material have been wonderful.” Josephson credits Silverstone with handpicking Baggage‘s cast, which includes Benicio Del Toro, Christopher Walken, Nick Turturro, and Harry Connick Jr., though she had to be convinced about casting herself. ”I didn’t know if I was going to be any good as an actress [because I was producing as well],” she says, ”so I suggested that [I fire myself] before we started. But they didn’t go for that.”

Etc.: Walt Disney was right. It really is a small world after all. Seen walking through the streets of Paris during the second big musical number in The Hunchback of Notre Dame is none other than Belle, the plucky, bookish fille of the studio’s Beauty and the Beast. ”One of our storyboard artists included her in there as a joke, since both pictures take place in France,” says Tone Thyne, Hunchback‘s assistant production manager, who concedes the stories are set centuries apart. ”She told us it was Belle’s great-great-grand-mother.”