John Travolta's Domestic Disturbance, his second movie of 2001, opens Friday.
But after you've seen the commercial on TV, don't expect to see the same lines uttered by Travolta on the screen. That's because sources tell me new scenes were filmed recently and added to the TV teaser and theater trailers to make Travolta's character seem more heroic.
Calls to Donald De Line, the film's producer, were not returned.
And there may be another reason why the commercial is different than the movie. Apparently, the film's ending did not test well and an entirely new ending had to be shot.
"If there are differences in the commercial, that's because it reflects the old ending," says a production source.
All of this does not add up well for Travolta, who is currently in the middle of a long downward trend at the box office. Since having a comeback run with Pulp Fiction and Face/Off, the former Saturday Night Fever star has made a series of mediocre films. Among them: The General's Daughter, Primary Colors, Swordfish, and now Domestic Disturbance.
Insiders say the Paramount-produced latest effort has not tracked well with audiences. Thus, the new ending and punchier commercial.
Domestic Disturbance began shooting in January and didn't wrap until June, which is explained now by the new ending. Writer Scott Rosenberg is said to have stepped in for Lewis Colick toward the end also.
And this was the film, should memory fail, that became notorious when co-stars Vince Vaughn and Steve Buscemi and writer Scott Rosenberg (Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead) got their clocks cleaned by locals in a North Carolina bar. Buscemi still has a bit of a scar from the incident; he was stabbed three times.
So, Monday I was able to buy Michael Jackson's new and not terribly good album Invincible, in the East Village. The record store owner had all four color versions of the CD and said he'd been selling them since last week. The album goes on sale officially today.
In the liner notes to Invincible, we can deduce a little of what goes on in Jackson's surgically altered head. His list of thank yous goes in this order: his grandmother, his parents, his kids, his manager John McClain, Elizabeth Taylor, his assistant Frank Tyson ("you are my true friend and family"), Carlos Santana, studio engineer Matt Forger and his family, PR guy Bob Jones, his lawyer John Branca, concert promoter David Gest, and magician David Blaine.
Jackson also dedicates Invincible to a 16-year-old Norwegian boy named Benjamin Hermansen, who was killed in a hate crime in Oslo by Neo-Nazis. Jackson did not know the boy, according to press reports, but was alerted to his fate by a Norwegian Jackson imitator with whom Michael is friendly.
There is also a full page devoted to a drawing by Uri Geller, at whose wedding Michael served as best man this year.
No mention of Macaulay Culkin, Bubbles the Chimp, Webster, his two ex-wives, his brothers or sisters, or his religious leader Shmuley Boteach.
But the most interesting of all Jackson's remembrances on this first album in six years is to Princess Nouf. The Saudi princess died last winter. Jackson writes: "PRINCESS NOUF … I love you from here, now and eternity … Michael Jackson."
Jackson has a long history and business association with the Saudi royal family. In the mid-1990s he was managed by Princess Nouf's brother (or cousin, depending if you can figure out their massive family tree) Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and announced that they were opening theme parks together. This is indeed the same prince whose recent offer to New York of $10 million for the clean-up effort was rejected by Mayor Rudy Giuliani when the prince criticized U.S. policies in the Middle East.
Interestingly, Disturbance was not intended to be a thriller at all, but the story of a father who risks everything for his young son.
The idea for Disturbance sprang from the very un-Hollywood mind of William Comanor, former chief economist for the Federal Trade Commission under President Jimmy Carter. Comanor — who is now an economics professor at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara — happens to live across the street from screenwriter Lewis Colick in suburban Los Angeles.
"I had an idea for a movie and a friend across the street," Comanor told me yesterday. "We each have nine-year-olds — my son Gregory plays with his son Jack. So I told him my idea and he sold it to Paramount. We worked on the treatment together."
Comanor moonlights as a father's rights advocate when he's not teaching economics or hatching movie ideas. Having been divorced years ago and gone through a nasty custody battle (with his first wife, not Greg's mom) he wanted to convey the lengths to which a determined father might go for his son.
"What happens to the new male who marries into a family. In the animal world, he would kill all the babies by his predecessor," Comanor says. "Not only is infanticide prevalent, it's 100 times more likely to happen in families with stepparents rather than two biological parents."
Comanor offers this couplet, which is specific to women but can be applied to fathers as well: "The mother of babes who elects to re-wed/Has taken their enemy into her bed."
By the way, Comanor told me that although he thought up the idea for Domestic Disturbance, he did not get to share in any of Travolta's famous on-set banquets. (The actor is known for his large perk package that includes a private chef at his disposal.)
"I ate in the cafeteria," says the veteran teacher. "And it was great."
The last great light of a lost New York era went out yesterday on Broadway and in Hollywood. John Springer, the monumentally gifted press agent, the man who set a standard for all who he knew and all who came after, passed away at age 85. There was no one better, he was the best. He will be sorely missed.
What didn't John do, whom didn't he represent? You should know that he was Marilyn Monroe's press agent when she died, and he never ever, even with prodding, told any of her secrets. He wouldn't have done it. He has been Tony Randall's p.r. guy since forever, and he was always with Mia Farrow. He shepherded her through her 1992 public turmoil with Woody Allen. He always took the high road.
John left this note for his son, Gary, who now runs his agency with Susan Chicoine, in the early 90s:
"To whom it may concern: We all know that nobody is really dead until the New York Times says he is. When you have reached my age, the first section of the paper to which you turn is the obituaries. And I generally find someone out of my long past. I have no intention of kicking the old bucket at this point. But enough of my contemporaries are doing it that I figure I should somehow be prepared. Since the best thing about making the move to the next world is the Times obit, I'd like to give you something with which to work.
"Enclosed is the Who's Who biographical sketch. Not covered there is any listing of personalities whom I personally represented. Most of these I handled for years, while some I continue to represent. The more I think about it, the more the names keep flooding back."
He followed the note with names such as Henry Fonda, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Tony Randall, Hal Prince, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Mia Farrow, Maureen O'Sullivan, Liv Ullmann, Lauren Bacall, Warren Beatty, Ed Harris, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Myrna Loy, Sylvia Sidney ... the list goes on and on and it hardly tells the story.
I will tell you that two years ago at the god awful National Board of Review dinner, Clint Eastwood made a special point of seeking John out among the noisy crowd and making sure to have a reunion with him. There wasn't a star of the heaviest Hollywood magnitude who didn't respect John Springer. I knew him for about 18 years and considered him a friend and a bit of a mentor. I will always cherish the memory of him, and send condolences to Gary, to John's widow June, and their whole family.