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Hollywood's Talking About Grant's Big Adventure : The British Star Has Left L.A. for Now, but the Marketing Campaigns for 'Nine Months' Will Not Change

June 29, 1995|CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER and GREG BRAXTON | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

His clean-cut image tarnished after his arrest with a woman identified as a prostitute, British actor Hugh Grant slipped quietly out of Los Angeles Wednesday while Hollywood and the public at large couldn't stop speculating how this might affect his career.

Many reports said the 34-year-old Briton was flying off to London to face his girlfriend of eight years, Estee Lauder model Elizabeth Hurley.

"He's no longer in Los Angeles," said Grant's publicist, Sandy Rice. "He's just waiting for it to blow over. He was upset. Obviously he was embarrassed," the publicist said.

Divine Marie Brown, 23, has no publicist but certainly could get plenty of publicity. The woman who was arrested with Grant and who police identified as a prostitute is being hotly pursued by at least one agent.

Sheri Spillane, an agent with the Ruth Webb Talent Agency, said, "We're trying to sign her up. The obvious is a book deal. She has a story about life on the streets, and what led her to that moment. There is so much interest in her it's unbelievable. I would be surprised if there wasn't a movie of the week in the works already."

And, naturally, both the TV and print tabloids want to talk to Brown.

"We're just praying she walks in to us," said Eric Ritter, managing editor with the syndicated "Inside Edition." Ritter and representatives for another television newsmagazine, "A Current Affair," said they would be unwilling to pay Brown for the interview.

"We're not in the habit of paying known prostitutes for interviews," Ritter said. "That's our policy in this case, regardless of what the competition does."

David Perel, general editor for the National Enquirer, said the paper also would not pay Brown.

"We're not going to get into some insane bidding war for her story," Perel said. "I understand that is happening with the British tabloids; I'm hearing that they are offering her $100,000. That's not worth it. Her contact with Hugh was extremely limited, and there wasn't a whole lot of dialogue other than 'OK, get in the car.' "

Grant's arrest had Hollywood wondering what impact the escapade would have on his first big commercial Hollywood film, 20th Century Fox's "Nine Months," opening July 12.

Rice said that Grant will keep up his promotional schedule for "Nine Months" starting next week. Fine Line Cinema is also still planning to release another film with Grant, the dark comedy "An Awfully Big Adventure," on July 21.

Fox spokesman Jeffrey Godsick said the studio had no comment on Grant's arrest or how it will affect the movie. But he did dispel rumors of a last-minute effort to alter the marketing campaign and take the movie's pitch off Grant. "We absolutely are not changing the marketing campaign for 'Nine Months,' " he said. The film's posters plastered on billboards and at bus stops around town are a picture of Grant's smiling face with his co-star Julianne Moore whispering in his ear.

"Nine Months" director Chris Columbus came to Grant's defense Wednesday.

"Sure, I'm upset that this happened on my film," says Columbus, who is pretty much regarded as a family-film director with the two "Home Alone" films under his belt. "But I have to tell you I was coming back from the airport [in Chicago Tuesday] and the limo driver says to me, 'Hey, I don't know anything about movies but I've been seeing and hearing about your movie all over the place today!'

"Maybe I should tell the entire cast to do something to get jailed before the film opens," quips Columbus. "No, seriously, I am upset about this, and I know Hugh is as well. But what can you do? I'm not going to sit here and have a funeral about it with [the film's] opening a week away. You just have to get through it, and you have to deal with it humorously."

As for Grant's other film already in release, Miramax's "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain," Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein was unruffled by the latest controversy.

"Right now we are in the midst of expanding the number of theaters for the holiday weekend, something we had planned anyway," says Weinstein.

"I don't think this incident will have any impact on the film or Hugh's career," he added. "People who know Hugh Grant know he has principles and that he made a momentary mistake. That goes with instant stardom."

Film fans had a similar take on Grant's arrest. For women who were charmed by the actor's clumsy romanticism in "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and were looking forward to his father-to-be role in the upcoming "Nine Months," the news left them dumbfounded.

"I was so surprised because I wouldn't think he'd need to go to a prostitute," said Mellisa Contreras, 22, of Los Angeles, who saw "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain," at Mann's Westwood Village theater Tuesday night.

Contreras and her friend Brad McGavin, 22, said they had originally planned on seeing "The Englishman" when it first came out, but they finally made a point to see it Tuesday night, "in honor of this special occasion."

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