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Director Peter Bogdanovich, angry over Universal Studios'removal of scenes...

By CATHERINE GEWERTZ

LOS ANGELES -- Director Peter Bogdanovich, angry over Universal Studios'removal of scenes and music from his movie 'Mask,' has failed to convince a judge to block this week's nationwide release of the film.

Bogdanovich asked Superior Court Judge John Cole to issue a preliminary injunction preventing release of the critically acclaimed film so the filmmaker could reinsert scenes and music removed by the studio.

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Cole denied the request Wednesday, ruling that Bogdanovich's contract with Universal was ambiguous and did not specify an absolute right to final musical and theatrical cut of the movie.

Bogdanovich reacted angrily to the decision and said he would take the case to trial.

'I don't believe the judge understood the case at all,' he said outside court. 'As he correctly said, he is not a movie critic. We will pursue any means to put the correct version of this film before the public.'

Bogdanovich filed a multimillion-dollar suit against Universal and producer Martin Starger last month, claiming 10 minutes of Bruce Springsteen music was replaced with songs by Bob Seger, and that several scenes were removed without his permission.

The Seger music was substituted for Springsteen's when Universal and CBS Records could not agree on a percentage of the record company's profits from the videocassette that might be made from 'Mask.'

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Cole said that in order for the Springsteen music to be put back into the film, Universal and CBS should agree on the videocassette issue.

'If the studio has a cloud over its head, it wants to make a video and then can't use Springsteen's music, then you have no deal,' he said. 'As good a director as Mr. Bogdanovich is, he's not being very practical in the business world. He'd better get his feet on the ground.'

Universal lawyers said Wednesday Bogdanovich's contract gives him certain editing rights, but specifies that in the event of a dispute Universal Pictures President Frank Price would make decisions on what should be cut.

'The judge's decision was expected and entirely correct,' said attorney Robert Dudnik. 'He had certain rights, but they were limited.'

The movie, based on a true story, stars Cher as a biker-mother and Eric Stoltz as her deformed teenage son and his battle to accepted as a normal human being. It was released last week in key cities to high critical praise and is scheduled for nationwide release Friday in about 800 theaters.

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