If you've been hearing the Oscar buzz about "Color of Money"--which doesn't open until Oct. 17--it's no wonder.
Publicist Andrea Jaffe started hyping client Tom Cruise for a supporting-actor nomination . . . last May.
Publicist Warren Cowan acknowledges that he's also done some crowing about client Paul Newman's performance in the film--and a probable best-actor nomination. "But nothing official has been orchestrated," he said. "If I were to suggest to Paul some kind of an Oscar campaign, he'd hang up on me."
But the hypesters are claiming that the word-of-mouth is quite natural.
"In this town, people smell out performances," said Cowan. "There are gut instincts about some movies and with this one, all the ingredients sound right."
Christine Lamonte, director of East Coast publicity for Touchstone/Disney, claimed the buzz started on its own even before sneaks were held in the East in August.