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This week in Hollywood

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BOOK RETORT

Authors reviewing books by likeminded authors is no new phenomenon, but Hollywood tongues are wagging about the questionable timing of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls writer Peter Biskind’s review of Charles Fleming’s Don Simpson bio High Concept for the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Both high-profile movie-biz tomes, released the same week, target the same audience and are now competing on the paper’s best-seller list (at press time, Easy Riders was No. 1, High Concept No. 6). In his critique, Biskind writes that while High Concept is ”by no means without interest,” it relies ”too much on preexisting Simpson literature” and ”the sad truth is that the great Simpson book…may never be written.” Says Los Angeles Times book editor Steve Wasserman, ”I assigned it before either of the books was on the list…because I thought [Biskind] was the best qualified to evaluate the merits and prose. I see no conflict whatsoever.” Biskind says that when he accepted the assignment, he had no idea that the books would be released simultaneously. ”I see them as complimentary instead of competing,” he says. Fleming counters: ”The review and Peter Biskind’s byline struck me as rather peculiar and unfortunate.” Sue Horton, editor of the L.A. Weekly, where Fleming pens a column, says that the weekend Biskind’s piece appeared she considered assigning Fleming to review Easy Riders, but ”I instantly realized that it would have been desperately unfair.”

FIRST STRIKE

After overhearing Deep Impact producer Richard Zanuck at that movie’s premiere party echoing comments he made to EW — that his film is the ”real-life drama” while Armageddon is the ”comic-book take” — Armageddon director Michael Bay took his gloves off. ”I’m not going to be nice anymore,” says Bay, a surprise face at the festivities. ”I actually learned a helpful asteroid safety tip from watching their ‘real-life’ movie. You can outrun a thousand-foot tidal wave with a motorcycle…and you’ll even have time to put on a helmet.”

GIDDY UP

A year after New Line’s Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery debuted, the studio may have landed its most unusual licensee: execs at Tudor Investment Corp. have named their —500,000 racehorse after the secret agent played by Mike Myers. ”Women want him, men want to be like him, and other horses want to be called him,” says co-owner Bjorn Nielsen. New Line waived a licensing fee for the thoroughbred — who may make his first U.S. appearance at the 1999 Breeders’ Cup — in exchange for 10 percent of his purses, which will be donated to the Ted Turner Foundation, a charity for environmental causes started by the vice-chairman of Time Warner, the parent company of New Line. Says Austin Powers director Jay Roach: ”I’d put all my money on a horse named Austin Powers as long as there are no mares in the race.”

FURTHERMORE

An unexpected reunion took place at Mortons May 3: Seagram’s CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. was seen dining with Howard Weitzman, who stepped down as Universal Pictures exec VP only a month earlier.

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