Film Scouts Diaries

1997 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Day 7: Old Faces At The Market

by Richard Schwartz

CANNES, May 13 -- Souvenir plastic water bottles filled with bloody mary mix were the aperitifs du jour at the Tuesday late night screening of Stephen King's "The Night Flyer." It's unclear which left a worse taste in most viewers' mouths, the bitter tomato juice-and-vodka combo or the flaccid histrionics of the shoddy horror film. Still, the movie had a few redeeming qualities, most notably that it allowed us to reopen our 'Whatever Became of...' file.

The actor who played the slimy tabloid newspaper editor in "The Night Flyer" appeared very familiar, but we couldn't place his face. Upon viewing the closing credits, we realized the actor in question was Dan Monahan, better known to a generation of cable-surfers as the infamous Pee-Wee of the legendary "Porky's" trilogy.

Such an amazing discovery motivated us to take a closer look at the rest of the Cannes market's offerings in search of other washed-up actors now earning a paycheck in straight-to-cable goodies. Indeed, among the thousand-plus out-of-competition market films one can encounter some formerly beloved sitcom stars and ex-athletes desperately attempting to resurrect their careers.

For example, check out this cast list for "The Misery Brothers," produced by the Lorenzo Doumani of "Cotton Club" fame: Pat Morita of "The Karate Kid" and "Happy Days;" Vegas funnyman Norm Crosby; "Jeffersons" and "Amen" star Sherman Helmsley; "Fish" title character and constant subject of "Dead or Alive?" queries, Abe Vigoda; O. J. Simpson trial star Paula Barbieri; "Gimme a Break"'s Nell Carter; "Incredible Hulk" bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno; Sly brother and failed vocalist Frank Stallone; and kilt-wearing professional wrestler Roddy Piper. And how about this tagline," Accused of a crime they didn't commit, their fate lies in the hands of Judge Ben E. Hana... so does the sushi!" Wackiness ensues.

Or the same production company's "Amore!" starring model Kathy Ireland, suntanned George Hamilton, "Star Trek"'s James Doohan, Katherine "Soap" Helmond, Vegas funnyman Norm Crosby (must be a contract player), Jack Scalia and Elliot Gould. Poor Elliot Gould -- after appearing in the Palme D'Or winning "M*A*S*H" twenty-five years ago, he returns to Cannes to star in a film with Scotty.

Sitcom stars are well represented at the 50th Cannes as well. Tony Danza stars opposite Michael Madsen in "The Girl Gets Moe!" while his "Who's the Boss?" daughter Alyssa Milano has a few films in the market, including "Below Utopia" with rapper Ice-T. Troubled "Diff'rent Strokes" actress Dana Plato appears in the aptly titled "Different Strokes" (notice the slight difference as to avoid copyright troubles), a Coastline production whose plot is summed up as "new possibilities arise when another Jill is added to the twosome of Jack and Jill."

Look for other past television stars as well, including Jimmie Walker and Candace Cameron in "Frankenstein Sings!" Krystyne Haje in "Morella," Lee Majors and Ed Marinaro in "The Protector," Norman Fell in "The Destiny of Marty Fine," and Casey Kasem playing opposite (gasp!) Robert Mitchum in "James Dean: Race with Destiny."

Athletes are for sale in the market as well. Green Bay Packer Reggie White teams up with the versatile Pat Morita to star in "Reggie's Prayer" while Olympic diver Greg Louganis stars in the love story "Touch Me."

On another note, Siegfried and Roy -- the animated duo, at least -- are being sold at the market by ABC Distributors, which describes its cartoon film as telling the story of "two masters of illusion who track the trail of a rare creature that has become a myth." Parents, be sure to keep the children and pets locked up.

Others represented multiple times include the aforementioned Ice-T and leggy ex-Stallone babe Brigette Nielsen, both of whom have at least four films for sale. Morgans Fairchild and Brittany make appearances, as do Coreys Feldman and Haim. Ex-Brat Packers Anthony Michael Hal and Ally Sheedy confirm that they have fallen from the 'A' list with films for sale as well.

So while all the production companies may leave Cannes without having sold the distribution rights for many of these films, at least they can rest easier knowing that they could hold one hell of a stiff "Battle of the Network Stars" competition.

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