'Striptease''s Demi Moore — The upcoming film fights to not be mistaken for 'Showgirls II'

There are some things only Bruce Willis knows. And if Hollywood’s morality police have anything to say about wife Demi Moore’s Striptease, that’s the way it’s gonna stay. The actress’ $40 million slinkfest, which promises to reveal more skin than a year’s worth of Victoria’s Secret catalogs, has had its first run-in with the MPAA. Though the ratings watchdogs gave the film an R (for nudity and foul language), the committee has rejected the flick’s promotional poster, deeming it ”too suggestive.” The problem: ”Too much crotch,” says an exec from Castle Rock, the film’s production company. The ad, featuring a nude Moore sitting cross-legged, apparently left too little to the imagination. The MPAA won’t comment, but Castle Rock’s senior VP of publicity and promotions, John DeSimio, still doesn’t get it. ”You couldn’t see anything,” he defends. ”There are racier perfume ads.”

The ad is being revamped, but when it comes to the grinding bumps that the film will face between now and its new June 28 release date (last-minute reshoots to make the ending funnier pushed it back a month), exposure of the actress’ nether regions may be the least of Castle Rock’s woes. The bigger headache? The bad karma left by last year’s T&A Uberdud Showgirls. ”That movie is a pain in the butt,” says Striptease producer Mike Lobell. ”It was so hated by everyone that we have an uphill marketing battle.”

Then again, Moore herself hasn’t made that job any easier. The fit actress’ proud display of her body of steel for David Letterman last fall and her erotic dance on Barbara Walters’ Oscar-night special didn’t do much to steer the Striptease buzz away from Elizabeth Berkley territory.

To prove that its film is not Showgirls II, the studio’s trailer sells Striptease as a screwball comedy (it’s based on Carl Hiaasen’s darkly funny crime novel) rather than as a sordid glimpse into the world of stripping. Sid Ganis, president of worldwide marketing for Columbia, the movie’s distributor, adds that Striptease, will, in fact, be more tease than strip. ”It’s not going to be as controversial as some might think,” says Ganis. And, according to Lobell, those expecting a full-frontal assault à la Showgirls will surely be disappointed. Moore, who pocketed $12.5 million for her part as a scrappy stripper mom, does appear topless, but, says Lobell, ”there’s no sex in our film.”

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