Way back when, local film guy cast his eye on Zora

By WILLIAM BUNCH

UH, ABOUT that movie that virtuous substitute teacher Zora Andrich - now of "Joe Millionaire" fame - filmed a couple of years ago, the one called "Silicone Valley."

It's not what you think.

Really.

Well, OK, the plot does revolve around a female team of "Charlie's Angels"- inspired detectives who gain superhuman powers after receiving radioactive breast implants.

But you wouldn't have seen the actual breasts - Zora's or anyone else's - even if the movie had been finished. In fact, novice filmmaker Jeff Vernitsky, from the Philadelphia suburb of Green Lane, shot only 10 or 12 minutes of usable footage. To say it's a longshot that he'll ever finish the film - especially now that his star is suddenly America's sweetheart - is an understatement.

That doesn't mean that Vernitsky - a 32-year-old producer for Lower Merion's government-access cable channel - isn't milking his few rays of Zora's reflected glory for all they're worth.

Indeed, Vernitsky and "Silicone Valley" are getting more minutes of fame - 15, to be exact - than his actual movie. He sold the footage to TV's "Access Hollywood," which aired some clips last week, and spent much of the last few days talking to reporters from all the major supermarket tabloids.

Not bad publicity for a recent Montgomery County Community College grad who's still hoping to transfer his credits to Temple for film studies.

"I could tell she was a very talented girl - very driven to succeed," Vernitsky said of Zora, the Lambertville, N.J., resident who played a character in his movie named "Misty."

"I thought she would definitely make it to Hollywood some day."

Unless you were rendered unconscious by a massive chunk of ice in last week's snowstorm, you know that Zora won the heart of faux-millionaire-construction- worker Evan Marriott on the highly rated Fox TV show. She also got a check for $500,000.

And it seems that she and her people are now peeved at Vernitsky's publicity campaign.

"Everybody's out to make a buck," Zora's Philadelphia-based agent, Annie Holvey, said without a trace of irony. "You couldn't find a more decent girl than Zora, and these people are running around trying to cash in on it."

Vernitsky said Zora called him after "Access Hollywood" aired the footage.

"We didn't talk very long, a couple of minutes," he said. "Well, actually it was maybe 15 or 20 seconds."

The movie that Vernitsky originally set out to write was called "Double 'D' Duo," but that was before he developed the concept of the radioactive breast implants.

He says now that he's rewriting it again "to make it more science fiction and not so much of a comedy."

He also said he once considered nude scenes "but as I began casting it I noticed some of the girls were against nudity. So I dropped that angle. I wanted it to be where everybody could see it, a PG-13."

If the rejiggered movie is ever made at all, Vernitsky acknowledged that he'll have to recast it without Zora. But he's still not completely done dealing with her.

"I paid her $150," Vernitsky said. "I still owe her $50."


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