BUZZ/SAW: Advertisers Go ‘Psycho’

Has anyone else noticed the sudden surge of “Psycho“-inspired ads on both TV and radio? Spots for DiGiorno’s make-it-at-home pizza and the Web’s AltaVista are both “Psycho” knock-offs. So why “Psycho” and why now? New York Times advertising reporter Stuart Elliott, who was planning his own item on the mini-phenom, noted that advertising and pop culture have always met at intersections, making “Psycho,” Alfred Hitchcock‘s very recognizable cultural touchstone, an obvious target.

He also suggested that “Psycho” has been fresh in the collective psyche because of the recent celebration of Hitchcock’s 100th birthday. Memories of the classic have been further jogged by director Gus Van Sant‘s shot-by-shot 1998 remake.

Rob Palmer, creative director on the AltaVista spot for the Wieden and Kennedy ad firm, said that when he and his colleague embraced the “revisionist history” idea, “we asked ourselves what the scariest movie of all time was, and the answer was … ‘Psycho,’ so then we did the spot.”

Universal Pictures, which made “Psycho” in 1960, handles its licensing. But, except to acknowledge that they handled the licensing of “Psycho” to the agencies, the folks in Universal’s clips/stills licensing department wouldn’t comment on the Madison Avenue “Psycho“-mania. But we like these people anyway because, like Norman Bates, they wouldn’t hurt a fly.

‘RENT’-A-MOVIE? “Rent” is now the 30th longest-running show in Broadway history, surpassing hits like “The Wiz,” “Born Yesterday,” “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and “Evita.” And in July, it will surpass “Hair.”

What caught our attention about this factoid was the fact that all of the shows mentioned that “Rent” is chasing or has chased have been turned into films.

Miramax, which optioned the musical several years ago with Robert De Niro‘s Tribeca Productions has, ahem, been holding back the “Rent” movie. So we called to get a development update. Yes, Miramax is going forward on a film version but, no, not much progress has been made in finding attachments — like bringing in a writer to adapt the musical’s book. But Miramax won’t let the project die, we were assured.

Inspired by Puccini’s “La Boheme,” “Rent” opened on Broadway on April 29, 1996.

Taye Diggs (“How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” “The Best Man”) is among the original cast members to make the leap from stage to film and TV.

BUZZ CUTS: Last week when Turner Classic Movie’s nattily dressed host Robert Osborne introduced director Victor Fleming‘s 1941 version of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” we learned lots about its star Spencer Tracy, his longtime love Katharine Hepburn, and other incidental tidbits. But, hey guys! Why not tell viewers that this “Jekyll” was preceded by a number of cinematic versions of Robert Louis Stevenson’s fabled story, not least of which was the even-more classic 1932 “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” which won Fredric March an Oscar? …

… Good news for the swarms of Rex Reed fans clamoring for vindication of their hero who was nailed in February for allegedly shoplifting three CDs from a Manhattan Tower Records store. Detractors charged Reed with possession of lame excuses when confronted with the accusations (and the merchandise). Well, the question of Reed’s guilt or innocence remains unresolved, but a Manhattan judge last week said she’d dismiss charges against him if the film critic/columnist/actor/music lover stayed out of trouble for six months. Fans and foes alike, and there’s plenty of both, will all be waiting and watching and checking off their calendars.