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London goes from Baltimore to Hollywood, emerges with 'Rich Girl'


"Rich Girl," a film that opens here Friday, is a "Michael B London production." That's Michael B. London, formerly of Baltimore, now of California.

London, 36, was born and raised in Baltimore. He attended Pikesville High School. Later, he went to the University of Miami, then Georgetown Law School, where he earned his law degree. He took it to California where he worked for several law firms, then decided to become a film producer.

"I represented a number of producers in court. I felt I could be one, too," he said. "It wasn't something I dreamed of as a kid. It just seemed the right way to go."

London's company is Film West. He served as executive producer for the company's first project, "The Immortalizer."

"That was our test film," said London, who describes "Rich Girl" similar to "Dirty Dancing" and "Flashdance."

"It does for music what those films did for dance," he said.

In the new film, Jill Schoelen plays a rich girl who goes to work in a club where she falls in love with the lead singer in the house band.

There are 23 songs in the film, which means that London had to listen to 1,000 tunes, some old, some not. "Some were originally done for the film," said London, who added that getting the rights wasn't all that difficult. "Making the selections was," he said.

London returns to Baltimore now and then. "I have friends and relatives all over the place," he said.

* It took more than three years to get "Rage in Harlem" before the cameras, and Bill Duke, who directed, says he doesn't know how he feels about it. "I'm numb," he said.

Duke is particularly pleased because it is his first film as director of a feature that is being shown in theaters. He's acted in films ('Bird on a Wire"). He has also directed for television, and in 1984, he did "The Killing Floor" a feature film that was made for theaters but went directly to cable.

"It's been a rough road," said Duke. "It has taken me 26 years to reach this point."

Duke was assigned to "Rage" after he submitted a "TV reel" to the producers. "That's how they do it today," he said. "They want to know what you've done, and a TV reel gives them portions of your work. They also saw 'The Killing Floor.' "

"A Rage in Harlem," opening Friday, cost $9 million, one third the cost of today's average film, and Duke hopes it will cross over to a mainstream audience. "We're marketing it that way," he said.

The movie is a combination of broad comedy and violence, and that's the way Duke intended it to be. "The story was written by Chester Himes, and we cut out 80 percent of the gore," he said.

The plot has Robin Givens (you remember her, Mike Tyson's ex-wife) play a hustler who carries a suitcase full of hot gold to Harlem, where everybody wants to get his hands on it, and her.

"She'll surprise everybody," said Duke. "She is going to be a big star."

Danny Glover and Gregory Hines are also in the cast.

"They did the film for scale and a percentage," said Duke. "If I had paid them what they usually get, we'd have had no money to do the film."

* Dolly Levi, that durable old girl who never seems to wear out her welcome, particularly at dinner theaters, is currently being impersonated at the White Marsh buffet house.

Nancy Tarr Hart is the meddler from Yonkers. Hart does more with that famous eating scene than Carol Channing or any of the other women who have done this role, but she does it well. Actually, Tart is good throughout, and so are all the others.

John Desmone directed, and this "Hello, Dolly!" breezes along. The dance is smart, and the supporting players sound especially good, particularly when they unite in song.

James Potter is Horace Vandergelder, the shop owner for whom Dolly sets her cap. Chuck Graham is Cornelius, Gary Marshall Dieter is Barnaby Tucker and Jane E. Brown is Irene Malloy, owner of a finery shop who is expected to marry Vandergelder and never will.

"Hello Dolly!" will remain at the White Marsh through June 30. As buffets go, this one is superb.

* Want a giant lobby display for "Silence of the Lambs?" All you have to do is ask for a form at the Lowe's theaters showing the film, sign your name and drop the form in a box. Names will be drawn, and four lucky people will take home this "collector's item" which has Anthony Hopkins, as "Cannibal" Lecter, locked in a wire cage.

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