"Scrooge," Or Maybe Not

'Twas the night before pre-Christmas and all was not quiet at the production office of Paramount's "Scrooge," where they're modernizing Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," Bill Murray's first major film role since "Ghostbusters." In the new version, which began filming last week in NYC, Murray plays a cynical network programmer overseeing the making of a TV special of the classic.

But it may no longer be "Scrooge": A memo went out last week from the film's producers stating that neither the film nor the TV special being filmed in the framework of the story was to be referred to as "Scrooge." The special was to be called "A Christmas Carol" and the "title was pending" for the overall film.

Could it be that the registration of National General's 1970 musical "Scrooge" with Albert Finney posed a clearance problem? A Paramount rep would neither confirm nor deny.

Then another memo directed that the special could be called "Scrooge"--but clearance for use in the overall film was still in question. The production office now refers to it as "Scrooge Untitled," while Paramount is officially referring to it as "Christmas Project."

Co-producer Art Linson told us that it was his understanding that the film would be titled you-know-what: "But more powerful people than me might question that."

As for the contemporized plot: Like what's-his-name, Murray's lost the yule spirit and three ghostly figures--from the past, present and future--arrive to rekindle it. Richard Donner directs and co-produces, with Karen Allen playing Murray's love interest.

Unconfirmed reports persist that Marlon Brando (who worked for Donner in "Superman") will play Mr. Bah Humbug in the film-within-a-film.

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