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Austin Chronicle Short Cuts

By Marjorie Baumgarten

Count producer Robert Kuhn as one of those baffled by Columbia/TriStar Home Video's contractual failure to release his film of a couple years back, The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Those of you lucky enough to have caught the screening of this Austin-made horror cult sequel when it unveiled at the 1995 SXSW Film Festival will remember that in addition to showcasing the work of local arts chameleon Robbie Jacks as Leatherface, the film also features the ascendant acting talents of Matthew McConaughey and Renée Zellweger, both honing their acting chops during their pre-fame days. Now, it doesn't take a Hollywood marketing genius to realize that since both McConaughey and Zellweger's stars have taken on a meteoric glow during the past year, the timing could hardly be better for the release of this early work (which the distributor has had in its possession since 1995). So what's the hold-up? Hard information is difficult to uncover, which is precisely the grounds for Kuhn's suit. One of the more persistent rumors in circulation is that Zellweger's management doesn't feel the star's scream-queen roots are good for her new leading-lady image, although the Zellweger camp heartily denies those allegations. It now remains for the folks at Columbia, who are also, coincidentally, the distributors of Jerry Maguire, to account for the Chainsaw delays...

It seems our pal Harry Knowles over at Ain't It Cool News http://aint-it-cool-news.comhas been taking a lot of heat these days and some of it is coming from no less a source than the head Batdude, Joel Schumacher, the director of Batman & Robin. The Hollywood publicity machinery is beginning to wage a bit of a backlash against what's being termed unfairly as "cybersleaze." Knowles posted on his site a slew of B&R reviews from L.A. contributors who attended advance test screenings. Virtually all of the comments were negative. Schumacher and several other pundits (other recent digs have been seen in People magazine and GQ Daily, and on Entertainment Tonight) now regard this dissemination of unattributed advance word as a scurrilous use of the Internet and a biased attack. Schumacher was even on a Fox affiliate morning show, Good Day L.A., last week attacking Knowles by name. In Knowles' defense, let me say that Harry is the ultimate fan, which can either make him a studio's best friend or worst nightmare. Knowles' bottom line is always the movies themselves and lumping what he does into the category of cybersleaze is an inaccurate and unjustified denigration of what he does. Nowhere on the Ain't It Cool News site will you find personal gossip or insider trading in star peccadillos. The only thing that matters to Knowles is the movies; all the other Hollywood guano might only be relevant insofar as it affects the outcome of the movies themselves...

Joan Crawford, in her horror queen mode, is on full display in Berserk, this week's entry in the Austin Film Society Femmes Fatales series (Wed., June 25, 7:30pm, Dobie). The AFS Summer Free-for-All series features a rare screening of Hungarian feminist filmmaker Márta Mészáros' 1975 film Adoption, grand prize winner at that year's Berlin Film Festival (Tue. June 24, 7pm, Texas Union Theatre).

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