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The Insider

updated 11/09/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/09/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

THE HAND THAT ROBS THE CRADLE

America, land of the prude. Al least that's the opinion of French director Jean-Jacques Annaud, whose Lover just opened in four cities (and enters wider release Nov. 15). The movie, set in Indochina and based on a Marguerite Duras novel, details the liaison between a Chinese aristocrat of 27 and a French jeune fille of 15. But you'd never know her age from the U.S. version.

Annaud maintains that early on, "it is clear the girl is lying when the man asks her age and she says 18." But she never does admit how old she really is. In the European version, a voice-over by Jeanne Moreau states the girl's true age; but in the cut Americans will see, Annaud edited the line out because he believes that "in America, this sort of thing is scandalous. I did not want to lead American audiences down the wrong path."

MEETING TWAIN

Yes, that man shopping on Oct. 20 at Bookstar in Santa Monica, wearing a bright red shirt, black pants, black baseball cap—and a black surgical mask that covered his nose and mouth—-was indeed Michael Jackson.

Our source in the store tells us the singer spent a long lime "browsing in the children's section" prior to leafing through numerous books on Madonna, "but not buying any." (He was a day too early for her new skinfest, Sex.) Jackson, however, did not leave empty-handed. Our source says that among the titles he purchased were The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the new hardcover version of The Guinness Book of World Records.

CONTINENTAL DRIFT

From our bicoastal splits file comes word that director Brian (The Untouchables) DePalma and Gale Anne Hurd, who produced The Terminator and DePalma's recent thriller, Raising Cain, have separated alter 16 months of marriage. Sources tell us that Hurd, 36, will remain in Los Angeles with their child, Lolita, while De-Palma heads east to spend more time in New York City.

If he needs a local to show him the ropes. DePalma can always call on New Yorker VI Pacino. who just broke up with his Los Angeles girlfriend. Australian director Lyndall (Back to the Beach) Hobbs. The word on the West Coast is that Pacino is already "dating other women in" Manhattan.

TEED OFF

You'll recall that two seasons ago, L.A. Law unveiled a prime-time novelty: a lesbian romance between attorneys C.J. Lamb (Amanda Donohoe) and Abby Perkins (Miehele Greene). Greene subsequently joined charter cast members Harry Hamlin and Jimmy Smits in exiling the series.

Now Lamb is gone too, a fact that Douglas Brackman (Alan Rachins) explained away in this season's premiere by saying she had joined the women's pro golf tour.

A source close to the show acknowledges that linking Lamb to the women's tour "was clearly a reference to her past circumstances." At the image-sensitive Ladies Professional Golf Association. however, a spokesperson was not amused by the reference and called our question concerning it "utterly ridiculous."

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