OFF-CAMERA HOLLYWOOD HIGHLIGHTS

Times Staff Writer

The endless Top 10s and Bottom 10s of '84 movies have come and, mercifully, gone. In the interest of full disclosure, Film Clips presents its uncut, untainted, and completely unauthorized list of off-camera Hollywood Highlights.

Paramount Pictures' "Best Defense" grossed $8 million opening weekend before word spread that "strategic guest star" Eddie Murphy had only a glorified cameo role opposite Dudley Moore. Business dropped 60% the following weekend, and Murphy, to Paramount's chagrin, later mocked the film on "Saturday Night Live" and told Moviegoer magazine that he had "whored himself artistically" and had wanted a Band-Aid on his eyes when he saw the finished film.

Tri-Star Pictures tarnished its formal debut of "The Natural" by picking up the tacky beach movie "Where the Boys Are" for distribution. The Allan Carr film bombed, presaging Tri-Star's troubles with another embarrassing pickup, "Silent Night, Deadly Night."

Goldie Hawn and director Jonathan Demme had it out on "Swing Shift" after Hawn insisted on new footage showing her character, and her profile, in more sympathetic favor. "They put enough light on her to illuminate Glendale," cracked one Demme supporter.

Walt Disney Picture's initial campaign for "Splash" showing Daryl Hannah in mermaid guise was set aside after practical-minded teen research subjects pointed out that you can't make love to a fish. The film opened with ads showing a de-scaled Daryl.

Life magazine canceled a planned February cover shot of Nastassja Kinski in a swimsuit after editors discovered that Kinski was pregnant and, at the time, unmarried. The ubiquitous Hannah stepped in.

New York magazine heralded Paramount Pictures' executive team as "Hollywood's Hottest Stars" in a gushy July cover story. Within weeks, the team had bitterly departed the studio and New York was publishing a sequel ("Son of Hollywood's Hottest Stars") with the tag line "Nothing lasts forever."

"Red Dawn" director John Milius, shrugging off attacks from liberals, joked that "next some extreme right-wing organization will give me an award, which is equally ridiculous." The Gun Owners of America announced later the same week that they were honoring Milius for "dramatically depicting the importance in our time of the Second Amendment."

The lofty Ladd Co., after such noble commercial failures as "The Right Stuff," "Blade Runner" and "Once Upon a Time in America," grossed more than $80 million with a teen cheapie called "Police Academy." The company has since closed up shop--except for "Police Academy II."

Los Angeles magazine set Hollywood egos quaking with its impossibly arbitrary "Hotshots: the 25 Hottest Young Comers in Hollywood." Groused one "winner," "The only thing more ridiculous than the list is the fact that everyone in town would stop meetings and lunches and talk about nothing but who made it and who didn't."

MGM/UA sued director Blake Edwards for overspending after Edwards sued MGM/UA for sabotaging its distribution of his "Curse of the Pink Panther." Edwards promptly filed a third suit alleging that MGM/UA libeled him by distributing copies of the overspending suit to newspapers.

Hollywood's rage for F-movies ("Flashdance" and "Footloose") moved on to G-movies when Steven Spielberg followed "Gremlins" with the upcoming "Goonies." Look for H-movies to be very big in '85.

Twentieth Century Fox executives who commissioned Sly Stallone to sing in "Rhinestone" also let him rewrite the script, to the dismay of screenwriter Phil Robinson. Said Robinson in an attack on the studio's conduct: "If you take a non-housebroken puppy and put him in a nice house and he makes a mess on the floor, you don't blame the puppy--he's only doing what comes naturally."

Beverly Hills police arrested KNBC-TV reporter Phil Shuman after he tussled with authorities at an Academy Awards bash at the Beverly Hilton. The Beverly Hills Cop himself, Eddie Murphy, was arrested by authorities in West Hollywood after a barroom brawl at Carlos 'n' Charlie's.

Richard Zanuck and David Brown were welcomed back to 20th Century Fox to produce "Cocoon" less than a year after their company was banished from the lot in a dispute with management. "Nothing causes a nicer reconciliation than a good script," observed Zanuck.

NBC announced that it had bought TV rights from Paramount Pictures to Sam Fuller's undistributed "White Dog," calling it a "well made motion picture that makes a strong anti-bigotry statement." The network changed its mind two days later, declaring the movie "inappropriate" for broadcast.

Independent producer Woody Clark said that he would proceed with a movie about John Z. DeLorean despite the auto maker's opposition, confident that no network or studio would finance an authorized DeLorean movie. "There aren't too many people around who want to pay John DeLorean's legal bills," said Clark.

Harvey Comics sued Columbia Pictures for allegedly lifting the "Ghostbusters" logo ghost from "Casper the Friendly Ghost." Soon afterward, artist Saul Steinberg claimed that the ad campaign for Columbia's "Moscow on the Hudson" was based on his celebrated Manhattan skyline print first published by the New Yorker. The camel procession in Columbia's "Passage to India" ads is safe so far.

Warner Home Video announced that it will distribute two different versions of "Once Upon a Time in America": Sergio Leone's 225-minute uncut version, priced at $89.95, and the much-maligned 143-minute theatrical version, for $79.95. Rumors that half-hour highlights will be available for $29.95 were unsubstantiated.

The Hollywood Reporter, struggling after a mass exodus of reporters and editors, ran a page one headline declaring "Strike Imminent" the morning after a crucial vote by members of the Directors Guild. As other publications duly reported the same day, the strike had been vetoed.

Twentieth Century Fox refused to match the $1,400 that other studios kicked in for Hollywood Boulevard banners welcoming Olympic visitors to movieland. "There is not a bottomless fund for expenditures of this kind," explained an executive at 20th Century Scrooge, which later canceled its '84 Christmas party.

Filmex '84 brought with it Flummox '84, an L.A. Reader parody. The bogus festival offered "Dull as Dirt," a 423-minute masterpiece of Central African agricultural tragicomedy; "Gesundheit, Mein Dumpling," winner of the Angry Red Ribbon at the Tulsa Filmfest for its depiction of "people yelling at each other in poorly lit windowless rooms;" "Plow, Yeoman, Plow" from Yugoslavia; "We Starve While You Go to Film Festivals" from Latin America; and "Best of the L.A. Times Theatrical Promo Trailers."

On that note, better luck to all in '85.

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