April 05, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Ashley Judd’s new movie ”Someone Like You” has more in common with Renee Zellweger’s ”Bridget Jones’s Diary” (opening April 13) than just being bittersweet comedies about single women whose office romances run amok. Both movies also have handsome Hugh heroes (”Someone”’s Jackman and ”Bridget”’s Grant) and media world settings (”Someone”’s heroine works on a New York TV show, while Bridget is a London publishing flunky). And when the heroines finally embrace their Messrs. Right, and the music swells? You guessed it: The songs are the same, too. The Van Morrison penned ”Someone Like You” underscores both films’ climactic clinches.

Amazingly, this is news to both directors. ”Don’t tell me they use the same song!” ”Someone”’s Tony Goldwyn (1999’s ”A Walk on the Moon”) tells EW.com when informed. ”The Intensive Care Unit will be wheeling me out in about five minutes. I thought I would have known, since we did know other movies that were trying to get the song.” ”Bridget”’s first time director Sharon Maguire is equally nonplused. ”I didn’t know anything about their film while we were shooting,” she admits.

So what happened? Tom Rowland, VP of Film and TV Music for Universal Music Enterprises, whose publishing arm controls the rights to Morrison’s catalog, says producers worried about soundtrack overlap need only ask either the record company (which licenses the version of the song used in the film) or the music publisher (which licenses the song itself) to find out who else might be chasing a tune or an artist. But, he says, few bother to check.

Prime example: ”American Beauty” and ”The Limey,” both released in fall 1999, used a long sample from the Who’s ”The Seeker” to accompany scenes of restless heroes on the move. ”There was a time when everyone was using the Who,” Rowland says. ”Since then, maybe some producers scratch their heads and ask about it, but most are more concerned about the music in the trailer, since that’s functioning as an advertisement for the film.”

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