LOOK-ALIKES : Hats Off to Those Creative Folks in the Ad Dept.

It's pretty unusual to see even one movie ad that uses a picture of a man strategically covering his private parts with a hat--an informal poll of film buffs would suggest it's never happened--but this summer there are two.

The print ad for Universal's "The Cowboy Way" features a picture of Woody Harrelson's character in only cowboy boots and a Stetson (not on his head), while an ad for Goldwyn's rap music parody "Fear of a Black Hat" shows the three members of a fictitious rap group wearing two hats each, one on their heads and one on . . . well, you get the idea.

And what's behind the cover-up? Pure coincidence, apparently.

The Harrelson shot is taken from a key scene in the movie, while the "Fear of a Black Hat" ad spoofs a Red Hot Chili Peppers album cover that shows the Peppers wearing only well-placed socks.

A spokesman for Universal said he didn't know about the similarity until he saw both ads in print just before Memorial Day. "Initially we were concerned, (but) we're not at all upset," he said. "We looked at it and said, 'This is amusing.' "

"My reaction was I thought it was an interesting coincidence," said Richard Bornstein, Goldwyn's vice president of world wide marketing. "I actually didn't notice it until it ran."

Spokespeople for both companies are quick to point out that neither company knew about the other's ad, and there seems to be little worry that the two movies, both of which opened Friday, will be confused by the public.

"I can't believe anybody seeing our ad would think it's (an ad) for 'The Cowboy Way,' " said Bornstein. "Unless there's a movie about a cowboy rap group, I think we're OK."*

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