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MOVIES : POST-DIVINE RAPTURE : Hollywood to Hugh: All Is Forgiven

February 04, 1996|Judy Brennan | Judy Brennan is a frequent contributor to Calendar

After a quiet few months, who should pop up in two critically praised films at year's end but one of 1995's top tabloid-headline grabbers, Hugh Grant.

But his roles in "Sense and Sensibility" and the ensemble period piece "Restoration" were sealed well before his June 27 lewd conduct arrest with Divine Marie Brown on Sunset Boulevard. So what kind of offers has Grant been able to garner since the incident?

Most Hollywood insiders say there's been no real fallout from the prositution incident; Grant's not talking. His handlers say that since he apologized to his public and his loved ones--particularly his girlfriend, model-actress Elizabeth Hurley--enough should be enough.

Grant and Hurley, in fact, are currently co-producing a Castle Rock film called "Extreme Measures," in which he will star. He has reportedly turned down several acting offers, including Penny Marshall's "Liar, Liar," (the role eventually went to Jim Carrey) for Universal; "Edwards & Hunt," with Chris Farley, for Turner Pictures; "Bell, Book and Candle" for Miramax; and Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!" for Warner Bros.

"I've offered him three movies myself--three romantic comedies--and he turned me down on every one of them," says Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of Miramax. "He told me he wanted to do something different. I can certainly respect that. Hugh's talent is unstoppable because he's got talent and that Cary Grant, leading-man look. Any notion that his arrest hurt him in Hollywood is total nonsense."

In fact, say some of his rejected suitors, it only intrigued them more.

"I met with Hugh the day before his arrest and asked him to star in a project I was doing," says Brian Grazer, head of Imagine Entertainment. "That night he was busted. After I heard the news I called his agent and said: 'I want you to tell him, "Not only does he still have the offer, but I'll give him a significant raise!" ' "

Martin Shafer, president of Castle Rock, echoed Grazer's support. Shafer's company gave Grant a deal to develop movies after the success of "Four Weddings and a Funeral," the small 1994 British film that proved a worldwide hit and launched Grant's career in the United States. It also landed him the role in "Nine Months," the film he was promoting in Los Angeles at the time of his arrest.

Even those in the industry who aren't particularly big fans of Grant say they don't believe his bad-boy behavior will have any lasting effect. Only the media, and not necessarily the public, will keep churning up the troubling incident, they believe.

"Look, Hugh is pretty light stuff who appeals to young girls, and I think he's already lost a lot of his luster. And to put him in the same ballpark as Cary Grant is almost sacrilegious," says a top executive at one leading talent agency. "But to say he's over because he was arrested for a night with a prostitute is a huge, false assumption. This, after all, is Hollywood, the land of indiscretion."

So Grant will soon begin work on "Extreme Measures," a film directed by Michael Apted about a young doctor who tries to help a woman searching for her missing brother and becomes entangled with the underbelly of the medical establishment. It is planned for a fall release. After that, Shafer says, Castle Rock will develop a pet project for Grant called "Animal Attraction."

He declined to provide details.

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