Times Staff Writer

Last weekend's debut of "Party Animal" left many young moviegoers wondering if the film had anything to do with the Party Animal Station (KLOS-FM) and the Party Animal disc jockey (Frazer Smith).

They should have checked the fine print.

Full-page ads showed a midget party boy wearing a studded dog collar and surrounded by high-heeled Amazon women--a faithful reflection of the movie's lowbrow high jinks. But there was also a disclaimer: "Not affiliated with or related to KLOS-FM 95.5, the Party Animal Station."

The disclaimer appears only on larger ads as part of a compromise between the film's distributor, International Film Marketing, and lawyers for KLOS. The Party Animal slogan, which entered the local teen vocabulary through deejay Smith before his move last May to arch-rival KMET-FM, is a registered service mark (similar to a trademark) of KLOS. The station even ordered Smith to lay off the slogan after he called himself the Party Animal on KMET.

The disclaimer was only the beginning of the Party Animal tangle. KLOS refused to run ads for the film to avoid promoting Smith on KMET, according to David Miller of International Film Marketing. KMET refused to run ads to avoid promoting KLOS. And KROQ-FM refused to host promotional screenings or giveaways for the film to avoid helping either KLOS or KMET, Miller said.

'I've never seen a situation like this, where none of the stations would be involved," Miller added. "It hurt somewhat, since this picture was a natural for rock 'n' roll promotions."

("Party Animal" nevertheless grossed $185,000 regionally at 49 Southern California theaters for a strong per-screen average of $5,203, Miller said.)

Program director Tommy Hadges says KLOS nixed the ads because it didn't want its carefully cultivated slogan expropriated by a movie. "We've spent a lot of time, energy and money promoting the term Party Animal. We wanted to be sure that this was not an attempt . . . to play upon our good name and good reputation."

Frazer Smith says he gladly relinquished the slogan to pursue fresher monikers. His current favorites are Garden Weasel and Weed Molester, neither of which seems likely to inspire a movie. Despite efforts of KLOS and the "Party Animal" movie, Smith insists he's still the real article: "My feeling is that if you ask the kid on the street who the party animal is, they'll say Frazer Smith."

TRI-STAR TURNS: The first item of business for Jeff Sagansky, the NBC programming executive appointed head of production for Tri-Star Pictures Monday, will be a prickly one: hiring new movie executives.

Half of the new studio's production executives have recently moved on: Allyn Stewart to Warner Bros., John Fiedler to Columbia Pictures and David Field to become an independent producer for Tri-Star. Sagansky, whose background is exclusively in television, says that he will bring in experienced "movie people" for the posts.

David Matalon, who was named president of Tri-Star Monday, will remain in New York and says that his former duties as Tri-Star's chief of marketing and distribution will not be greatly altered. His appointment will lead to "less misunderstanding" between Tri-Star's East and West Coast offices, he said.

GREY-STROKES: The Oscar nomination race may be barely under way, but Warner Bros. has already tied up best-hype honors for its efforts on behalf of "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes" and its co-star, the late Ralph Richardson.

Last month, in a move apparently unprecedented in Oscar annals, Warners sponsored a 14-film retrospective of Richardson's career at Laemmle's Monica Theatre. It concluded with a one-week run of "Greystoke," for which Richardson is being pushed for best supporting-actor honors.

Last week, Warners took out what may rank as the most expensive Oscar trade ad ever: a 28-page, full-color "Greystoke" magazine inserted in Daily Variety. The insert was filled with glossy shots from the movie and choice quotes from critics.

Warner Bros. publicists declined to discuss the cost of the campaign and said only that they treat all their pictures equally. Keep your eyes peeled for that Prince "Purple Rain" magazine and a Goldie Hawn retrospective keyed to "Protocol."

HORSES IN MIDSTREAM: Eric Stoltz is out and Michael Fox (of TV's "Family Ties") is in on "Back to the Future," which Steven Spielberg's production company is making with Universal Pictures. Assembled footage from the first month of shooting revealed that Stoltz, who stars in Peter Bogdanovich's upcoming "Mask," seemed out of sync with the comic tone set by director Robert Zemeckis.

Fox had been considered for the lead role of a time-traveling teen-ager to begin with, according to one source. At the time, the actor was too busy with his TV series to work on the film. After further entreaties from the producers, he will now try to do both.

BOX OFFICE: The holiday season may be over, but not for "Beverly Hills Cop" and Paramount Pictures. "Cop" grossed $9.6 million last weekend to top $112 million to date. The distant competition was led by "The River," which opened wide for the first weekend and drew a lukewarm $3 million. "The Flamingo Kid" grossed $2.4 million followed by "Micki & Maude," $2.4 million and "Protocol," $2.2 million. Among films in limited release, "Tuff Turf" debuted with a strong $1.5 million on 440 screens.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World