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A look inside Hollywood and the movies : THE AGE OF PROMOTION : Second Prize: Scorsese Hands You 500 Bucks and Calls You a Mook

September 26, 1993|JANE GALBRAITH

When's the last time an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie got a "sponsored-by" tie-in with National Public Radio? How about a writing contest in the New York Times asking readers to pen an essay telling of their own "Indecent Proposals"? Or a glossy, chock-full-of-pictures coffee table book--complete with screenplay--for "Beethoven"?

Need it be said, only films with a certain, well, snob appeal would qualify for such prestige-type tie-ins. A film like "The Age of Innocence," for instance.

People connected to these promotions and the Martin Scorsese-directed movie now in limited release have another word for their target audience: upscale. The well-educated. People with money. People who may actually have read the Edith Wharton novel upon which the Columbia Pictures release is based--or at least know who the Pulitzer Prize-winning author is.

For the uninformed, there's a tie-in paperback at bookstores across the country ($5.95) now available featuring the movie's romantic leads--Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer--on the cover. And for the affluent, there's the quite elaborate "The Age of Innocence" art book, retailing at $49.95 from Newmarket Press, containing color movie stills and a reproduction of the movie's screenplay in full, historic photographs and etchings from the Victorian period connected to Wharton, her times, plus extensive quotes and annotations from her and her contemporaries.

Newmarket spokeswoman Sally McCartin said the initial run of 10,000 is completely sold out--6,000 went to book stores, the balance to Columbia Pictures and the press. A second printing is set for this week.

The publishers are marketing it as a limited-edition hardback, unlike their "The Making of Dracula," "The Making of Dances With Wolves" and others of their ilk that are printed in paperback in the tens of thousands. (Both, she said, sold over 125,000 copies.)

"The Age of Innocence" has sold particularly well in Dallas and Ann Arbor, Mich., which McCartin found inexplicable.

Back in Gotham, New York's paper of record, their Times, thought it a good idea to capitalize on several of its associations--Columbia (a big advertiser), the movie's director (a favorite son) and Wharton--recalling Manhattan in more genteel times.

"This is the perfect movie to do a perfect promotion with," said Alyse Myers of the New York Times' promotions department. "Upscale . . . New York society . . . Martin Scorsese . . ." to name just three of its top qualities, she said.

The contest, thought up apparently by the Times' promotions staff and Columbia's outside advertisers McCann-Erickson and agreed to by the filmmakers, offers a $1,000 gift certificate at Bloomingdale's (clearly, K mart or Mervyn's wouldn't be appropriate) and a walk-on role in a Columbia Pictures film to the best writer of a story (in a 100 words or less!) "about a love that never quite materialized." Wharton's book--and Scorsese and Jay Cocks' quite literal adaptation--follows the same theme, set in New York of the 1870s.

Lastly, there is National Public Radio, home to the all-news and newsfeatures shows "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered." Other movies deemed appropriate to be NPR sponsors were "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Out of Africa."

Maybe if Schwarzenegger tried Shakespeare . . . or Wilde . . . or Rostand, NPR might reconsider. (His funny turn playing Hamlet badly in the movie-within-a-movie parody from "The Last Action Hero" does not qualify.)

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