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UPDATED 09/16/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 09/16/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT

>Primary Colors

HELP WANTED

WHILE THE NATION SPENDS THE NEXT two months deciding whom to cast as the next real President, Hollywood has a more pressing problem: Who will play the lead in Primary Colors, the movie based on the bestselling satire of Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign? That question was supposedly settled in February, when director Mike Nichols snapped up the film rights with $1.5 million of his own money and then sold the project to Universal as a vehicle for Tom Hanks. But soon after Newsweek columnist Joe Klein admitted that he was the book's author, Anonymous, Hanks, who had never signed a contract, backed out. He gave no reason, but the conventional wisdom is that the actor, an active supporter of the Democratic Party, had second thoughts about skewering Clinton. The studio, says one insider, "definitely had their hopes on him."

Now, with shooting expected to begin next February, Nichols is meeting with the not-exactly-presidential-but-very-hot John Travolta. His First Lady? Quite possibly, the still-unsigned Emma Thompson. Strange bedfellows indeed.

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