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There’s Something About These Guys

Before most movies get made in Hollywood, script vetters are brought in ensure that none of the characters’ names correspond to those of real people who might be offended. Not so with 20th Century Fox’s “There’s Something About Mary,” the Cameron Diaz-Matt Dillon-Ben Stiller comedy that opens Wednesday. Peter and Bobby Farrelly, who co-wrote, co-directed and executive-produced the film, have stocked it with oddballs whose names--though unfamiliar to most people--are well known to industry insiders. Dillon, for example, plays a cad named Pat Healy. The real Pat Healy is an associate producer on the film. “Dillon plays a bit of a scoundrel, so we thought, ‘What is a good scoundrel name?’ ” Bobby Farrelly explained. “Then we realized, we had a scoundrel working with us.” But the scoundrels who drew the most chuckles at last week’s premiere were Krevoy and Stabler, two cops in the movie who use tough-guy tactics on Stiller to get him to confess to murder. The real Brad Krevoy and Steve Stabler, long-time producing partners and former executives at Orion Pictures, gave the Farrelly brothers their start, producing their previous films, “Dumb and Dumber” and “Kingpin.” Krevoy, now president of the Motion Picture Corp. of America, said he suspected something was up when he bumped into Stiller last week. “Ben said, ‘Have you seen the movie?’ I said, ‘No, why?’ He said, ‘You’ll see. I owe you one.’ I had no idea my character was smacking his head on a steel table,” said Krevoy. But you know what they say: Any publicity is good publicity--just get the name right. “It was a nice thing they did,” Krevoy said of the Farrellys. “Though I’m not so sure when my daughter grows up that I’ll want her to see her dad as a deranged detective.”

With the Fox Away, Pay Channel Plays

Once upon a time, when a network passed on a pilot for a TV series, that was the end of it. Today, with so many hungry channels to feed, it’s often the beginning. Such is the case with “John Woo’s Once a Thief,” a Fox pilot produced and directed by the renowned Hong Kong action filmmaker. Fox aired the prototype in 1996 but wasn’t impressed enough to order a weekly series. This Saturday, however, the Movie Channel will televise “John Woo’s Once a Thief: The Director’s Cut,” featuring footage excised from the Fox broadcast, followed by “John Woo’s Once a Thief: Family Business.” A third movie will be shown on the pay service in August. Alliance Communications, the Canadian producer of the films, is responsible for keeping the franchise going--releasing the “director’s cut” of the pilot in video stores and securing commitments from networks in Canada and Europe to continue production, due largely to Woo’s popularity. “Once a Thief” is about two siblings who break ranks with the Hong Kong crime family that adopted them, becoming part of an elite crime-fighting unit. The movies star Sandrine Holt, Ivan Sergei and Nicholas Lea, the duplicitous Agent Krycek on Fox’s “The X-Files.”

The Resurgence of Soul Music (Cont.)

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Recording industry observers will look to SoundScan’s weekly sales reports on Wednesday to see if Maxwell’s “Embrya” can maintain its lofty position on the list of the nation’s best-selling albums after entering the chart last week at No. 3. The album, which was the No. 1 seller in Southern California for the week ended July 5, is the first of several expected over the next six months from young artists whose deep ‘70s musical influences and sexy-rather-than-suggestive lyrics have led to a commercially viable and critically acclaimed resurgence in romantic R&B; music in the late ‘90s. The second album from Tony Rich and the debut solo collection from Lauryn Hill of the Fugees are due next month, and D’Angelo and Erykah Badu are expected to have new albums out before the end of the year. Violet Brown, urban music buyer for the Wherehouse retail chain, expects each of these records to make its presence felt on the sales charts. “The urban-alternative sound is real big right now,” she says. “It’s fresh, it’s new and it’s saying something positive.” Maxwell’s 1996 debut, “Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite,” has sold about 1.3 million copies and spent more than a year in the Top 200--and Brown expects no less from the new album. “The last one was around for a very long time,” she says, “and this one will be too.”


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