This week in Hollywood

By Jeff Jensen
Updated November 19, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Access Baggage A battle has flared up between Hollywood studios and NBC’s Access Hollywood over a new weekly segment called ”Battle @ the Box Office.” With data provided by the website Hollywood Stock Exchange, the infotainment show debuted the bit on Nov. 5, predicting the weekend performances of such new releases as The Bone Collector and The Insider—a sore point for studios, which believe such forecasting could taint a movie’s potential earnings. According to NBC, some studios threatened to retaliate by denying access to their stars. A source within Access Hollywood says the show may modify the segment and no longer offer rankings.

Blair Apparent On Halloween, Blair Witch Project cocreator Eduardo Sanchez teased fans via e-mail with the possibility of a sequel. What he failed to mention was that he and Daniel Myrick may not be writing and directing it. Artisan Entertainment, which owns the franchise, is angling for a fall 2000 release but has yet to decide who’ll be on board. Recent meetings between the studio and the filmmakers have proved inconclusive. ”The ball is in their court. They control whether we get involved or not,” says Sanchez. ”Our biggest issue is to make a good film. We also want to make a film that doesn’t betray the fans.” Sanchez praises Artisan (which declines to comment) for playing straight with them, although he admits to feeling ”disillusioned” by Hollywood. ”We used to wonder why indie filmmakers who make it big sell out,” he says. ”Now we know. There’s lots of compromises to make in order to do the films you really want to do.” That may mean submitting to Artisan, which has first dibs on the film Sanchez and Myrick really want to do next: a comedy called Heart of Love.

Swear Dance Remember the Titans, now shooting with Denzel Washington as a Southern high school football coach struggling with racial integration, was originally going to be the kind of edgy picture you’d expect from producer Jerry Bruckheimer. But when Walt Disney Pictures president Peter Schneider read the script, he saw something PG or even G — if only it didn’t have all those four-letter words. ”So I told Jerry, ‘We should make this a Disney movie — and your name should be attached to it,’ ” says Schneider. The Bruckheimer name was critical, as Schneider wants to broaden Disney’s family-film business by recruiting brand-name filmmakers (see: David Lynch and his G-rated The Straight Story). The Armageddon producer liked the idea, and the raw language was lost. ”It’s a story that’s pretty inspirational,” Bruckheimer says, ”and I would love kids to see it, so I thought it was a way to get that done…. Plus, it takes place in the South, where people are very polite.” Guess he must not have seen Lynch’s Wild at Heart.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Essex)