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Michael J. Fox, the Diet Pepsi Kid (see box, this page), is the latest star attached to director John Badham’s action comedy, “The Hard Way.” The diminutive star will play a well-known actor hanging out in Chicago to pick up background for a role as a police officer--and getting on the nerves of a veteran cop in the process. And Fox gets into more trouble than he bargained for.

At separate times, Ted Danson and Kevin Kline were set to play the actor opposite Gene Hackman, but schedules conflicted. Now Daniel Pyne’s script is being reworked for Fox--with shooting planned for next August. (Badham’s last film, “Stakeout,” had to be rewritten when youthful Emilio Estevez was cast; the character originally was a 50-year-old detective.)

Now Badham’s casting for a tough-as-nails type (mid-30s) capable of trading quips with Fox.

“Fortunately,” the director told us, “when it comes to cops and actors, you’re never too old or too young to play one.”

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