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A look inside Hollywood and the movies. : LOOK WHAT WE FOUND : Stupid Squirrel, You Thought We Were Dead

April 12, 1992|Andy Marx

Their shelf-life has been impressive, but two movies long held out of release have turned up: "Boris and Natasha," starring Dave Thomas and Sally Kellerman as the spy couple of Rocky & Bullwinkle fame, is coming to cable TV, Jay Leno's first starring vehicle, the 1987 "Collision Course," is coming out on home video.

In an obvious tie-in to the massive publicity surrounding Leno's taking over for Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show" next month, HBO Video is releasing "Collision Course," a 1987 Dino De Laurentiis film that starred Leno and Pat Morita ("The Karate Kid") as mismatched police detectives working on a case together.

Where has the film been? According to Robert W. Cort, one of the film's producers, when De Laurentiis' firm declared bankruptcy, "Collision Course" ended up in the hands of Wells Fargo Bank. "The movie sat with Wells Fargo and we were never able to get it released," says Cort, president of Interscope Communications. "They were looking for someone to buy the movie out at full price and they couldn't sell it."

The film had problems from the beginning. Three different directors--John Guillermin, Bob Clark and Lewis Teague--worked on the project. Teague ultimately received the director's credit.

According to Leno's longtime manager, Helen Kushnik, they're not thrilled that the film's finally being released. "They're just taking advantage of where Jay is now," she says. "It's so obvious. We had nothing to do with the release of this movie now." (Leno's predecessor, Johnny Carson, also made a film appearance he'd probably like to forget--in 1964's "Looking For Love.")

As though tying the film to Leno's current success isn't enough, HBO video's one-sheets andpress material for "Collision Course" say that the film is "from the makers of 'The Jewel of the Nile,' 'Airplane!' and 'Airplane II: The Sequel.' " This is partially correct, but it's a bit of a stretch: Teague did direct "Jewel," but as for the "Airplane!" connection, nobody seems to know. A publicist for HBO Video said that Cort worked on the "Airplane!" films but Cort said he had nothing to do with either of those movies.

Also rising from the dead is "Boris and Natasha," which premieres on the Showtime network Friday. It's another film that got caught up in financial problems, this time when M.C.E.G., the company that made the film, wound up in bankruptcy court.

"Boris and Natasha" is a live-action film starring Dave Thomas and Sally Kellerman as Pottsylvania's most notorious secret agents, based on the animated characters made famous by Jay Ward. The film was directed by Charles Martin Smith and written by Charles Fradin, Linda Favila and Anson Downes.

According to Showtime's Larry Landsman, the network had a deal with M.C.E.G. to premiere several of their releases after they were shown theatrically and released on videocassette, but with the company's reorganization, the films went straight to Showtime. Several other unreleased films from M.C.E.G. that never saw the light of day, including "Fatal Charm" and "Chains of Gold," were also premiered on the network.

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