'The Player' aims at the movies and has the industry buzzing


New Line Cinema has nabbed "The Player," Robert Altman's scathing black comedy about the movie business.

Virtually every studio in Hollywood was bidding to distribute the independently financed picture, based on Michael Tolkin's novel and starring Tim Robbins as a hotshot studio executive who kills a struggling screenwriter -- and then seduces the screenwriter's girlfriend.

According to Variety editor Peter Bart, writing in the current issue, "Hollywood's new favorite indoor sport is trying to figure out which industry figure each of the lead characters is modeled after. . . . None of [the characterizations] are particularly flattering, to be sure."

"The Player," which is scheduled to open in April, contains a humongo number of cameos, including Cher, Whoopi Goldberg, Anjelica Huston, Julia Roberts and Bruce Willis all playing themselves.

And all of them were toiling for day-worker, scale wages.

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