This week in Hollywood

By Steve Daly
Updated August 07, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT
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FRAT’S ENTERTAINMENT In the wake of recent high-profile journalistic mea culpas, HBO is putting Todd Phillips and Andrew Gurland’s Frat House, a Sundance Best Documentary winner that explores collegiate hazing, under a microscope. At one point scheduled to air on Aug. 12, the expose has been postponed at least until October, so that HBO’s legal and programming staffs can reexamine every scene — such as pledges doing push-ups in vomit — and the circumstances under which each was filmed. ”A few things were fuzzy for us, because we didn’t make the film ourselves and weren’t there every step of the way,” says an HBO spokesperson. ”But this is nothing unusual. We have extremely high criteria for airing documentaries.”

TITLE WAVE Shakespeare said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet — but in Hollywood, a stinky title can turn a decent movie into a box office skunk. To avoid such a fate, studios have been renaming pictures with even more abandon than usual (Mafia! was originally Jane Austen’s Mafia, which remains on prints and posters). The upcoming Columbia romance Dance With Me was called Shut Up and Dance until execs decided that was ”catchy but too rude,” says producer Lauren C. Weissman. Touchstone’s adaptation of John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany diverged so sharply from the novel that the studio switched to A Small Miracle before settling on Simon Birch. The upcoming Vince Vaughn-Anne Heche drama from PolyGram began as Force Majeure (the title of the 1989 French film it’s based on), but the thinking was the movie couldn’t get arrested with such an inscrutable appellation. The initial fix was All for One, but echoes of D’Artagnan faded when it became Return to Paradise.

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