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By RICK SCHEUERMAN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 2, 2001


KING WILLIE? Patrick Stewart, the bald, clean-shaven, mid millennium captain of the Starship Enterprise, is taking on a Willie Nelson look for an updated version of King Lear.

In what could be a plot out of Star Trek, Stewart is applying his 30 years in the Royal Shakespeare Company to the lead role in the Shakespearean classic, beamed to 19th century Texas. In TNT's new movie King of Texas, the king becomes John Lear, a powerful land baron, who makes his three daughters prove their loyalty. You know the rest.

Now, now, stop smirking. Besides the Emmy-nominated Stewart, the film stars Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden, Lauren Holly, Roy Scheider and David Alan Grier. Uli Edel, who directed TNT's recent Mists of Avalon, guides King of Texas.

No word on whether Nelson is on the soundtrack.

'PIE' ON THEIR FACE: Sex sells, and this one sounded like a match made in marketing heaven: American Pie 2 and LifeStyle Condoms.

Universal Pictures, the studio behind the raunchy sex comedy, which opens Aug. 10, and condom manufacturer Ansell Healthcare Inc. had agreed to a deal that includes a sweepstakes, placement of LifeStyles condoms in the film and a TV commercial featuring the movie and the condoms.

But the Motion Picture Association of America, the folks that issue movie ratings, took a dim view of the deal. To get a movie rated, studios must submit all marketing materials for approval. MPAA spokesman Rich Taylor said his organization has a policy of not allowing condoms in commericals meant for general audiences.

Sex between unmarried students, however, is fine.

"This movie is all about sophomoric sex, but the moviemakers don't want to be associated with condoms?" asked an incredulous Carol Carrozza, vice president of marketing for Ansell.

... AND HERE WE ARE ON A LETTER TO AUNT MIYA: Japanese postal officials were hoping that their new postage stamp campaign would promote writing letters in a digital age, but they may have underestimated their nation's fondness for photography.

Vanity stamps with personal photographs went on sale for the first time in Japan as part of an international postage stamp exhibition. The customer's photo is taken with a digital camera and then printed on stamp sheets.

Though similar stamp sheets are sold in 12 nations and territories, they're a particular hit in Japan.

"We left home at 4 in the morning and got here at 6," said Misao Itaya, who posed with his young children for the photo. "I want to use this when I send pictures of the kids to my relatives."

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