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WOLF BLITZER TURNS DOWN A FILM ROLE -- HE'D RATHER BE ANCHORED IN REALITY

You want Buffalo angles from the summer TV critics tour, we have Buffalo angles.

Wolf Blitzer, movie star. It has a nice ring to it, but Larry King probably has a better chance of having a long-term marriage.

The CNN senior White House correspondent, who is from Kenmore, said here that he has been offered parts in such high-profile movies as "Crimson Tide," "The American President," "Dave" and the current Jodie Foster hit that has upset President Clinton, "Contact."

Blitzer declined them all, but several CNN reporters made "Contact." Why did Blitzer pass?

"For me, personally, I didn't want to confuse what I do for a living, which is stand on the north lawn of the White House and report real news, with being in a full-screen motion picture and report what is not real news."

Blitzer acknowledged that he has appeared on "Late Night With David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show," but views those appearances as an opportunity to show that he is a human being with a sense of humor.

The number of CNN reporters in "Contact" has the network reconsidering its policy on such outside work, said Tom Johnson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the CNN News Group.

David Milch, co-creator of the CBS drama "Brooklyn South," had to deal with a few expected controversies connected to the new cop show.

First, there was the issue of the violent opening sequence. The most controversial element is a one-second shot of a bullet exploding into a victim's head.

Milch said the eight-minute opening scene establishes an atmosphere, and there won't be that much violence in the whole season.

"We're going to take a lot of heat," acknowledged Milch. "It's unrealistic to expect that we won't, but no one was looking to create controversy for controversy's sake. The fullest understanding of that moment is what the whole first season, at one level, will take up."

Milch acknowledged that he made a mistake in not casting an African-American street cop in the pilot. He added he plans to rectify that before the show airs.

"The defect of the show is that I didn't think in racial categories, which of course is the goal ultimately of our society," said Milch. "So it wasn't important to me that we didn't have the male black uniformed cop, as opposed to a male black detective. It didn't seem to me to be an important distinction. On the other hand, once I watched the show it occurred to me an audience could infer from that a racial statement that was utterly unintended. And why let that happen?"

Besides, Milch said the original pilot was three minutes short and he needs to fill that time with additional scenes.

Critics didn't notice, but "Oz" writer-producer Tom Fontana arrived for an HBO press conference for the dramatic series wearing shoes with a Buffalo flavor -- bowling shoes.

Afterward, Fontana told me a story about his new shoes, which were given to him by Buffalo State College Provost Thomas J. Quatroche Sr. a few months ago.

It seems that when Fontana spoke at the college's graduation ceremony in May, he reminded the provost of an incident that oc-curred in his college days when Quatroche was dean of students.

According to Fontana, the dean asked him in the hallways if the bowling shoes that he was wearing were taken from the college's lanes. Fontana admitted they were and felt so guilty that he returned them a few days later.

Quatroche laughed about it in May and a few days later sent Fontana a new pair of bowling shoes.

The reviews for "Oz" were generally positive, though many critics were troubled by its grim tone.

One criticism that struck Fontana as peculiar was the description of the nun played by Rita Morena as the most contrived character in the series. The nun arranges conjugal visits for the inmates.

"The character of Sister Peter Marie is based on -- my sister's a nun -- and there's a nun in her order that does this at Attica, or at least did this up to a couple years ago," explained Fontana.

"And I always found it hilarious that my sister was arranging conjugal visits. That always seemed to me like a character that I wanted to include.

"I think the character can have an enormous amount of fun, and also be a real kind of moral conscience in the series."

Showtime subscribers will be treated on Aug. 17 to a new adaptation of "Twelve Angry Men" with a terrific cast that includes George C. Scott, Hume Cronyn, Mykelti Williamson, Courtney B. Vance, Ossie Davis, Tony Danza, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Dorian Harewood, Jack Lemmon, Edward James Olmos and William Peterson.

It certainly won't be anything like the brilliant version that Studio Arena presented last winter.

While one critic told director William Friedkin that having a jury of 12 men in the 1990s was unrealistic, that certainly isn't the biggest change made by writer Reginald Rose.

I asked Friedkin if the motivation for updating the classic movie was giving it a racially diverse cast, because the original could just as easily been called "Twelve Angry White Men."

"I think that that is a very important thing to try to do with this material is to have it racially mixed," said Friedkin. "Why not? Why wouldn't you?"

The biggest bigot in the piece is an African-American, played by Williamson.

"Mykelti came in with the idea of doing this guy as a sort of busted Nation of Islam guy," said Friedkin. "That was his idea. I thought it was great. . . . How many times can you remember having seen that done? You can see a black racist appear on a newscast, but almost never in a drama."

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