AMERICAN GRAFFITI

The arrival of a Hollywood tell-all book - the most notorious example of which would have to be Julia Phillips's You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again - has always been a major event in the movie industry, inspiring outrage from those slighted and outright glee from everyone else.

Hollywood's must-read author of the moment is Natural Born Killers co- producer Jane Hamsher, who's been receiving mostly enthusiastic reviews for her book Killer Instinct. The story begins with Hamsher and her partner Don Murphy buying the rights to a hyperviolent screenplay by some video-store geek called Quentin Tarantino, and ends two years later, the pair having barely survived the sanity- threatening experience of an Oliver Stone production.

Stone is depicted as a paranoid, womanising megalomaniac with a fondness for mind games - which is almost flattering compared to Hamsher's portrayal of Tarantino, whom she calls a "one-trick pony" and "a slightly smarmy, falsely modest Uriah Heep character". Tarantino comes off as a power- crazed backstabber who, Hamsher says, lied to her, tried to sabotage her project, then hit on her. She provides evidence, reproducing a scribbled note, part of which goes: "When we sat next to each other at lunch, you wore these great shorts and your leggs [sic] looked so sexy, I couldn't keep my eyes off of them (were you wearing them for me?)"

Hamsher's next film, Apt Pupil (starring Ian McKellen), is due out in a few months. Oliver Stone's U-Turn, an unapologetically sexist "spaghetti noir", opened here last Friday, and the increasingly backlash-prone Tarantino returns in December with Jackie Brown.

US TV's most coveted time slot is, without question, 9.30-10 pm, Thursdays on NBC, right between Seinfeld and ER, the two most-watched shows in the country.

The network traditionally uses the slot to launch new sitcoms, the assumption being that your average American couch potato is too lazy to switch channels even when fed junk like Brooke Shields's Suddenly Susan; this season's beneficiary is Veronica's Closet, the patchy Kirstie Alley showcase. In last week's premiere, the writers on Seinfeld worked in a typically sly in-joke mocking this practice.

In the episode, Jerry gets upset about an unfunny fellow-stand-up comic who always goes on stage immediately after him, and in effect, "steals" his laughs. Veronica's Closet did just that last week in record-breaking fashion, and is the newly anointed comedy smash of the year.

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