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By Devin D. O'Leary

FEBRUARY 9, 1998:  I just got some very groovy news off the grapevine. It seems John Leguizamo is attached to star in a film about Juan Garcia Esquivel, the famed Mexican bandleader who pioneered the art form known as Space Age Bachelor Pad Music. Leguizamo, who made a huge splash on Broadway as a performance artist (his new one-man show "Freak" will make its Broadway bow on Feb. 12), has yet to find himself a respectable film vehicle. With duds like Super Mario Brothers, The Pest and Spawn behind him, perhaps Esquivel will be Leguizamo's breakout perf. The film from Fox Searchlight will be written and directed by Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman, the duo behind the documentary Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's. Esquivel is set in the 1960s and will chart the life and career of the Mexican composer, band leader and hi-fi pioneer who introduced the lyrics "za-za-za, zu-zu-zu" to the world. ... Steven Spielberg, who's still caught up in a lawsuit claiming he stole the story for his recent film Amistad, just wrapped up another plagiarism suit brought by a St. Louis writer. Screenwriter Stephen Kessler claimed that Spielberg, whose Amblin Entertainment produced the hit film Twister, actually stole the film's idea from his unproduced 1989 script Catch the Wind. Jurors deliberated just two hours before finding Spielberg and Co. not guilty. Silly me, I couldn't even tell that Twister had a script. For what it's worth, the claims in the Amistad case seem just as baseless. It is, after all, a true story; and unless they've started issuing patents on historical fact, I'm not too worried for Mr. Spielberg.


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