Is this 'Girl' a shameless tie-in or a Dutch treat?

By Michael Endelman
Updated January 23, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

What does 21st-century rock have to do with 17th-century Dutch art? Not much, yet the two collide in the video for ”Girl With a Pearl,” a roots-rock track from Minnesota singer-songwriter Truman. Currently in heavy rotation on MTV, the clip features Scarlett Johansson, who stars in Peter Webber’s ”Girl With a Pearl Earring,” along with a glimpse of the titular Vermeer painting. The song, however, is nowhere to be found in the movie or in the score. So what’s the deal?

Turns out it’s a marketing scheme devised by ”Girl”’s production studio, Lions Gate. Studio exec Michael Burns received a CD of Truman’s music from friends and asked him to contribute a track. Coincidentally, Truman had already penned ”Pearl,” having been inspired by the novel on which the movie is based. Johansson liked the song so much, she agreed to be in the video (directed by Meiert Avis, who has worked with U2). ”It seemed like a great way to bring a youthful demographic to what is essentially an art-house film,” says Burns. Consider the promo a success, at least for Truman: The video is building buzz for his Geffen debut, ”Payne Avenue,” due early this year. Coming soon to ”TRL:” blink-182 interpret van Gogh’s Sunflowers. — ME