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Traditional Cannes Phantom Deals Fail to Thrill Actor Gary Oldman

Film: He's linked to a project he's turned down, and one that's at preliminary stage, his manager says.

May 23, 2000|JAMES BATES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It's long been true that at the Cannes International Film Festival announcements of deals, both real and imagined, flow as freely as the champagne.

Two years ago, a "Titanic" spoof was the hot press release. Because the film was scheduled for release early in 1999, all the major studios reportedly were eager to sign on. Then the spoof sank without a trace.

Gary Oldman and his representatives weren't amused by this particular Cannes tradition when, at this year's just completed French festival, Oldman was linked to two potential projects. One, his representatives say, he had already passed on before the festival even began and the other one he has had only brief preliminary discussions about.

The first film was "Ticker," a Nu Image film bought by Artisan Entertainment that Oldman's manager, Douglas Urbanski, said the actor passed on months ago. Indeed, the formal announcement eventually did list actor Dennis Hopper in the role for which Oldman had been discussed.

The second was "D'Artagnan," a film from Behaviour Worldwide and producer Moshe Diamant in which it was widely reported that Oldman would star.

Urbanski says he and Oldman asked to read the script, but that's the extent of it. Oldman's lawyers are asking that he no longer be linked publicly to the project, and are demanding an apology.

Artisan declined comment. Producers of "D'Artagnan" didn't return calls.

Oldman recently starred as Roman ruler Pontius Pilate in the TV miniseries "Jesus," and will star with Jeff Bridges in the upcoming film "The Contender."

Urbanski said that an actor's career can be hurt by phantom deals. People may assume the actor reneged on the agreement, is undependable or wasn't a big enough star to secure financing for the project.

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