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UNTITLED NORA EPHRON PROJECT

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STARRING JOHN TRAVOLTA, LISA KUDROW, TIM ROTH, MICHAEL RAPAPORT, CHRIS KATTAN, ED O’NEILL, BILL PULLMAN, MICHAEL MOORE DIRECTED BY NORA EPHRON

BUZZ-O-METER 4

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? Sleepless in Seattle‘s mastermind goes Heartless in Harrisburg.

Formerly known as numbers, this movie from the director of Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail has been called a ”romantic comedy” in the press. Now Ephron wants to set the record straight: ”There is almost not a romantic bone in this movie’s body. It’s very dark. It’s not at all the sort of thing that I’ve ever done. People are killed in it.” No, it’s not the kind of thing you expect from Ephron, who left the writing to Adam Resnick (HBO’s The Larry Sanders Show), whose script is loosely based on a true story: In 1980, a group of bumblers in Pennsylvania tried to rig the state lottery by weighing down the numbered Ping-Pong balls with paint. ”My script is completely unsentimental,” says Resnick. ”No one falls in love.” Instead, Travolta plays a weatherman who owns a limping snowmobile dealership and gets seduced by the wicked Crystal (Kudrow), the lottery’s sequined evening-gown-wrapped Vanna White. ”She has no morals,” says Kudrow. ”I liked that.” The first scene Kudrow and Travolta rehearsed together? An orgasm, naturally. Kudrow remembers it this way: ”’Hi, nice to meet you. All right, so let’s start here: John, get on the bed. Lisa, you are straddling him.’ Isn’t that somethin’? But he really made it comfortable for me.” (July 14)

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