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'Titanic II'? There's a Ghost of a Chance

Movies: Never let it be said that Hollywood would let a little iceberg stand in the way of a lucrative franchise. Here are some ideas.

March 25, 1998|ANNE BEATTS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

This is Hollywood, where the goose that laid the golden egg would definitely not be killed but instead signed on the spot to produce the sequel: "Golden Egg II." Picture the frustration engendered by "Titanic's" grosses and its newly won 11 Oscars--after all, there's no getting around it, at film's end, the ship sinks, taking the film's hottest young star along with it. This puts what you might call a real damper on the prospect of a sequel.

On the other hand, in the Hollywood dream factory, sheer implausibility has never been a deterrent, especially when economics are involved. With a little creativity, anything's possible, even "Titanic II." Here, then, are some suggestions on how to capitalize further on the world's most famous shipwreck.

1. The Sequel. In a flashback, it's revealed that the David Warner character was actually a German doctor who, in a groundbreaking experimental operation, switched Jack's and Billy Zane's faces while Rose was momentarily oblivious in a post-coital swoon. Thus the real Jack is still alive. He finds Rose amid the survivors and, by sketching her in the nude, convinces her that he has Jack's personality and artistic talent despite being stuck with Zane's face and hairline.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday March 26, 1998 Home Edition Calendar Part F Page 51 Entertainment Desk 1 inches; 20 words Type of Material: Correction
Wrong actor--An article about suggested "Titanic" sequels in Wednesday's Calendar misidentified an actor in the film. He is Bill Paxton.

They sell the Star of the Sea to pay for risky plastic surgery to restore Jack's face to its original condition so he can go back to looking like Leonardo DiCaprio. Though momentarily jeopardized by a volcanic eruption that creates a red-hot lava flow headed directly for the hospital, the operation is a success. To celebrate, Jack and Rose book passage on the Lusitania.

2. The Prequel. Jack is an art student in Paris, where he plays cards, drinks, paints pictures of naked women and hangs out with Picasso and Einstein at the Lapin Agile. Meanwhile, Rose's twin sister, Lily, down on her luck, is forced to become an Apache dancer and meets Jack when she accidentally kicks him in the head during a spirited routine.

He persuades her to leave her vicious dancing partner, Billy Zane, and they embark on a madcap tour of Paris by night, which is unfortunately interrupted by a tornado. Lily's clothes are ripped off by the high winds and Jack is able to complete a hasty sketch of her in the nude before she spirals away over the rooftops. Thus begins a fevered quest that can end only with his discovery of her twin, Rose, on board ship.

3. It Was Only a Dream. (Hey, it worked for "Dallas.") After a restless night caused by eating some bad sushi, Jack and Rose wake up together in their Venice beach cottage in 1998, where Jack's surfer dude attitude seems a tad more appropriate to his new chosen profession, surfer dude. Rose busies herself making art pottery for a housewares boutique on Abbott Kinney, pausing occasionally to be sketched in the nude by Jack. All is bliss.

Unfortunately their happiness is soon threatened by the arrival, in rapid succession, of an earthquake, a tidal wave and Billy Zane as a vicious bike cop who hates all surfers. Rose saves the day and stands Jack's bail when she discovers that the only thing she was able to salvage from the earthquake and tidal wave, a painting she bought at a yard sale, is actually a genuine Picasso nude of her great-grandmother.

4. "Titanic" Meets "Ghost." Even though he's technically dead, Jack's spirit can't rest until he's warned Rose that Bill Pullman is still trying to get his hands on her Star of the Sea (the part where she threw it overboard was only a dream). While old Rose is in her studio working the clay on her potter's wheel, Jack's disembodied spirit shows up for an erotic fantasy sequence.

Rose soon realizes that Jack has taken over the body of her psychically susceptible caregiver, played by Whoopi Goldberg, when Whoopi insists on sketching her in the nude. Whoopi, Rose and Jack's spirit manage to foil Pullman and his fellow treasure-seekers and turn the Star of the Sea over to Elizabeth Taylor, Courtney Love and Sharon Stone (playing themselves) to be sold at auction, with the money going to AIDS research. In a stunning emotional climax, Whoopi morphs into Jack, and he waltzes Rose around in her wheelchair to "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers.

5. The Remake. Unbeknownst to anyone, the American president (played by Harrison Ford), is actually on board ship. He has never left his private stateroom because he's involved in an extramarital affair with his secretary of state, played by Uma Thurman. When the iceberg hits, the president swings into action and, via shortwave radio, contacts his head Secret Service agent, played by Jackie Chan.

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