The inside scoop on the book world
  • Movie

CUTTING REMARKS So that‘s how Michael Bolton was able to part with his famously luxurious locks: by immortalizing them in print. The singer’s new kids’ book, The Secret of the Lost Kingdom (Hyperion), features a long-maned hero named Prince Marlon who bears a suspicious resemblance to … could it be … ”Certainly, the lead character is supposed to resemble Michael,” says a flack for the book. And the recent cropping’s effect on publicity? ”We’re really thrilled about it, as you can imagine.” Sarcasm!

FIT THE BILL Disney’s production of Jonathan Harr‘s best-selling real-life legal thriller A Civil Action, scheduled to start filming in Boston next month with John Travolta in the lead, is fraught with legal troubles of its own. A bill introduced by movie producer and former Massachusetts legislator Nick Paleologos (Ghosts of Mississippi), and given preliminary approval this summer by the state legislature, would bar producers and studios filming there from using anyone’s name or story in a movie without permission. If it becomes law, Disney might have to pay the eight families who brought the suit against W.R. Grace and Beatrice Foods for toxic dumping — which they argued caused their children’s death by leukemia — or film elsewhere. But Disney says it was never able to approach the families because their life-story rights had already been purchased — by Paleologos and his partner, Fred Zollo. As a goodwill gesture, Disney has offered about $100,000 to each family, but negotiations are continuing. Paleologos also scoffs at Disney’s claim that the film focuses on the legal side of the story and is not about the families. ”If it’s not,” he says, ”the legislation would have no impact on them.” But critics of the bill say it’s written so that nearly anybody mentioned in a work would have to be paid. Massachusetts Film Office director Robin Dawson fears ”it could affect news stories, it’s so loosely worded.” With the bill tied up in the senate, Disney plans to film with or without an agreement with the families.

Alexandra Jacobs and Matthew Flamm

A Civil Action
  • Movie
  • Steven Zaillian