Moviemakers' bet: winner takes mall 

Next February, the fruits of Orlando moviemaking will again be seen at a theater near you . ...depending on where you live.

The locally shot and edited romantic comedy "Olive Juice" `Dec. 9, 1999`, which capped its postproduction phase last summer, has been placed with United Artists. Not with the UA distribution network, that is, but directly with the United Artists theater chain, which will install the film in its Florida Mall multiplex for a two-week run sometime around Valentine's Day. One of the other UA theaters in the area -- Wekiva Riverwalk or Seminole Towne Center -- is a possible but not certain site for a simultaneous showing.

The Orlando engagement is a test run for a potential national rollout -- maybe 50 cities, or perhaps as few as six -- says director of photography Alex Karvounis. Working under their Doubble Troubble Entertainment imprint, Karvounis and his brother Nick (the film's producer) brought "Olive Juice" to United Artists without the involvement of an outside distributor. It's a highly unorthodox arrangement, and it's made even more odd by Doubble Troubble's sale of the film as a concurrent VHS release to Blockbuster stores across the country. Will anyone venture into a theater to watch a film that can be rented instead?

Alex Karvounis thinks so, especially here. Backstreet Boys Brian Littrell and A.J. McLean have on-screen roles in "Olive Juice;" last year, Littrell earned the project some extra publicity via his wedding to Leighanne Wallace, who just happens to be the movie's star and co-producer.

A cameo by WTKS-FM (Real Radio 104.1) personality Jim Philips is among the more obscure, Orlando-centric details that Alex Karvounis hopes will draw an audience here. When I first read the shooting script, I suspected that its snatches of local lore wouldn't survive the editing process. But the finished product is said to be "very close" to its written template.

A cutesy smooch-fest with club-culture touches, "Olive Juice" may indeed make the most of its two-week mall residency. It helps that the MPAA stamped the film with a PG-13 rating, bringing it down from an R after the Karvounis brothers agreed that the word "fuck" would only be heard once in the final edit. (At least they can't complain that the MPAA didn't give two fucks for their film.)

Already back on their home turf of Las Vegas, the cinematic siblings have wrapped production of their next feature, "Sticks and Stones," a thriller starring Glenn Quinn (of the WB network's Angel) and Jason Mewes (the lewdly-minded Jay to Kevin Smith's Silent Bob in "Clerks," "Mallrats," "Chasing Amy" and "Dogma"). And they're about to announce a label for the "Olive Juice" soundtrack CD, which will include tracks by such locals as Joseph Graye and Littrell (yes, him again), who recorded the film's title song.

Meanwhile, Backstreet rivals 'N Sync aren't ceding any filmic ground: Their Joey Fatone appears in the hip-hop comedy "The Brothers," which was shot here this past fall. Taken together, those developments hint that a new rule governs all our lives: No movie gets made in this town unless someone from a boy band is in it. I suppose the really cash-strapped productions will have to make do with Take 5.

A Bard taste in your mouth

If you're headed to a friend's pad this New Year's Eve, it'll behoove you to bring along a thoughtful gift. (Yes, I am implying that your divine presence may not be gesture enough.) A cultured host will likely appreciate a bottle of the official wine now being sold by the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival -- and in two varieties, yet. At the tasting ceremony I attended, most folks seemed to prefer the Hamlet Cabernet Sauvignon (advertised as "noble and heroic with pensive undertones"), though I gave the thumbs-up to the Juliet Chardonnay ("youthful and delicate, with a dramatic finish"). I particularly appreciated the "Juliet" bottle's custom label, which depicts the doomed heroine from the nose down only. Her hidden identity makes sense when you think about it: Not only is she a minor, but she comes from an influential family.

Priced at $18 per bottle, the wine may be purchased by calling the OSF at 893-4600, ext. 206. (It's also sold by the glass at performances.) Just try not to focus on the fact that any liquid that figures in a Shakespearean text usually turns out to be poisoned.

The old in-out

What's with those well-circulated rumors that a rent increase has forced Trilemma Productions to bow out of the Orlando Science Center's Darden Theater? According to the folks at the OSC, no such increase has been decided upon, and a pow-wow with Trilemma isn't planned until after Jan. 1. To quote the Beatles parody "All You Need is Cash," it sounds as if somebody picked up the wrong end of the stick and proceeded to beat about the bush with it . ...When the year-2000 flock of departed Orlandoans flew home for the holidays, I happened to run into "Waiting" scriptwriter (and Los Angeles transplant) Rob McKittrick. In high spirits, McKittrick expressed a gut feeling that his film would get made, even though its studio, Artisan Entertainment, isn't enjoying the merriest of Christmases. While he waits for Artisan to get the ball rolling (or perhaps kick it to another studio), McKittrick is exploring other avenues of amusement. He recently appeared on the updated version of the classic TV show, "To Tell the Truth" -- not as a crafty impostor, but as the real-life scripter whose six-figure payday was the success story put before a panel of celebrity sleuths. He did not, however, begin his comments with the biographical detail, "I, Rob McKittrick, had nothing to do with "Blair Witch 2". ..."

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