Rushes

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The Independent Culture
The last cut is the deepest: Paramount's movie version of Ira Levin's hi-tech high-rise thriller Sliver dominates Tinseltown conversation. Sliver is meant a) to be the studio's summer blockbuster, b) to cement Sharon Stone's reputation as the decade's most daring, flesh-baring star. Yet the film, the latest attempt by the producer, Robert Evans, to re-enter the major leagues, has been attracting the sort of talk that makes Hollywood very nervous indeed.

Stone - who apparently only said yes to the role of voyeuristic woman-in-peril when erroneously informed that Geena Davis was primed to sign - has already expressed her dissatisfaction with the sex scenes, specifically devised to outflank Basic Instinct. She and director Philip Noyce expected co-star Billy Baldwin to go full-frontal, which he cheerfully did. Upon seeing the picture, Stone wondered aloud why she was up writhing on the screen, naked as the day she was born, while Baldwin's modesty had been protected.

New sex scenes were then shot in mid-April, although rumour has it that a bondage sequence featuring Tom Berenger had to be filmed with body doubles when the actor refused to get down and get funky. Paramount refuses to say if the film's erotic elements have been, er, beefed up, or diluted for ratings approval.

With a 21 May theatre deadline approaching, sneak previews have now revealed audience dissatisfaction with the movie's all-important final 15 minutes (the original ending has Stone deciding to remain with her psychopathic lover). Further shooting is under way, amongst much muttering from the cast. This leaves less than a month to insert the revamped footage and organise and ship prints in time for critics' screenings. Insiders claim that Sliver's initial dollars 40m budget is merely a faint memory. . .

Pocket money: the announcement that Macaulay Culkin is to receive dollars 9m for his next project will come as cold comfort to Michael Oliver, the 11-year-old moppet star of the appalling Problem Child flicks. A Los Angeles Superior court found that Oliver's manager-mother Dianne had 'unjustly forced' Universal Pictures to renegotiate her problem child's salary upwards from an agreed dollars 80,000 to dollars 500,000 amidst threats to walk off Problem Child II the day before filming was due to begin. Universal thought that was an awful lot of money to spend on sweeties. They'd like dollars 170,000 back now, thank you very much.

The terrible cost of fame: (An occasional series; readers' contributions welcome.) Tom Cruise had his briefs stolen while filming The Firm in sunny Florida. This seems apt, given that the title refers to a law firm. To add insult to injury, the thief has sold the purloined underwear on to a collector of movie memorabilia. Asking price: dollars 175. One hopes the cost of dry cleaning was included.

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