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May 21, 2000|KATHLEEN CRAUGHWELL

The Wages of Sin

In "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery," Dr. Evil holds the world hostage for the grand sum of . . . 1 million dollars! Until his lackeys inform him that in today's economy $1 million isn't what it used to be and he ups his ransom request to 1 billion dollars. So what does an arch-villain want in the year 2000? In "M:I-2," the "Mission: Impossible" sequel, Scottish actor Dougray Scott plays a former-agent-turned-bad-guy who wreaks all sorts of global chaos for that most coveted of modern commodities: stock options.

She Likes the Idea, Too

When Artisan and Miramax announced they will co-produce and distribute a sequel to the 1987 sleeper hit "Dirty Dancing"--Ricky Martin and Natalie Portman are reportedly in talks for the leads--the news came as a surprise to many, but none more than New York-based filmmaker Eleanor Bergstein, who wrote and produced the original. "My phone started ringing of the hook," said Bergstein. "I guess it's an homage of sorts. I think Ricky Martin is an incredible performer, and it's an immensely interesting idea. I just hope with all my heart that [the remake] honors the contract we made with the audience." Bergstein will be in Los Angeles this week to cast the lead role in her latest film project, "Starry Night With Sprinkles," a Fine Line film that will begin shooting in New York in late summer.

Holiday releases

This year the Fourth of July falls on a Tuesday, and at least one studio, Columbia, will start the celebration six days early when it releases the holiday-appropriate "The Patriot," which stars Mel Gibson as a reluctant Revolutionary War hero. Other films set for the holiday weekend include Warner Bros.' fact-based adventure "The Perfect Storm" with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, and Universal's kid-friendly "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle."

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