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Goldmember trailer hitch for New Line
'Die' could be spliced onto NL's 'Rings,' Powers pix
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. That seems to be the operating principle behind MGM and United Artists' eleventh-hour negotiation that could allow New Line Cinema to use the "Austin Powers in Goldmember" title for the third installment of its snaggletooth spy franchise.
Though no deal is in place -- and ultimate approval has yet to be gained from the Broccoli family, which holds the James Bond license -- New Line is expected to receive permission to use the title, which spoofs the 1964 Bond pic "Goldfinger."
In exchange, the upcoming Bond pic "Die Another Day" and other MGM titles will be trailered on both the "Austin Powers" films as well as "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring." The trailers would be spliced onto the films at New Line's expense rather than put on a separate reel, which allows the option of using alternate trailers.
It's a deal that easily could have been reached nine weeks ago, when the "Goldmember" fracas reached its apex. At the time, however, MGM and UA seemed caught up in the chase to pounce on the vulnerable "Goldmember," which New Line left open under Motion Picture Assn. of America guidelines when the studio failed to respond to MGM and UA's petition to block the title.
Rejection irked MGM, UA
The Bond-spoofing sensibility of "Austin Powers" has always annoyed the MGM and UA camps, and never more so than after its creator-producer-star, Mike Myers, rejected the studio's offer to star in "The Pink Panther" after many months of talks.
In the end, however, it seems cooler and more practical heads prevailed. While MGM and UA can block "Goldmember," parody law provides them with no control over any number of other Bond-spoofing titles. Among the approved titles waiting in the wings are "Live and Let Shag," "You Only Shag Thrice," "Never Say Member Again" and "License to Shag."
With any upside in Bond-license protection thus destroyed, there seems little reason for MGM and UA to pass on the opportunity to benefit at New Line's expense.
The third installment in the Austin Powers franchise is slated for release July 26. It features Myers in four roles, including that of the villain Goldmember.
New Line would not comment for this story and MGM did not return calls for comment.
April 9, 2002
Copyright © 2002, Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.