David Hochman
June 04, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Hanks a lot
Despite critical raves, Return With Honor, a documentary that retraces the steps of a group of American pilots who became POWs in Vietnam, was having trouble getting attention outside the festival circuit. But all that could change when the movie opens June 11 in New York before rolling out across the country this summer. Why? ”Something wonderful happened,” explains Freida Lee Mock, who produced and directed with Terry Sanders. ”Tom Hanks decided he loved it.” In fact, the actor offered his name to help increase the marquee value of the film, which will now have the phrase ”Tom Hanks Presents” above the title. While such celebs as Martin Scorsese and Jodie Foster have similarly blessed movies they didn’t make, the arrangement is a first for Hanks, who will not receive payment for the unsolicited endorsement. Says Mock, who won an Oscar for 1994’s Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision, about the woman who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: ”Anything we can do to get people over the stigma of the word documentary is great with me.”

Jackson jacks in
How many kings of pop does it take to fill an entire Manhattan screening room? Just one. When Michael Jackson arrived for a private showing of The Matrix at the Sony building on May 10, office security was told to keep people away from the seventh floor in order to give the singer some space. Folks who showed up for a scheduled preview screening of the indie drama Twin Falls Idaho had to wait in a downstairs lobby 45 minutes until another location could be found. Both Jackson and Sony Music, which organized the screening for one of its biggest moneymakers, refused to comment, other than to say, as one Sony spokesperson put it: ”That was supposed to be hush-hush.” Says a publicist involved with the Twin Falls Idaho screening: ”I couldn’t understand it. The guy has his own llamas — can’t he get his own screening room?”

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