06/06/2003 12:00AM

Taste of Tinseltown comes to Sin City


LAS VEGAS - The most famous film festival in the world is held in Cannes, France.

Actor James Caan (pronounced "con" - the way many people say "Cannes," which is supposed to be pronounced "can") has been to Cannes. He'll also be here during the Cine-Vegas Inter-national Film Festival, which runs from Friday through June 21 at the Palms Casino-Resort. Caan will be starring this fall in "Las Vegas," an NBC drama about a casino surveillance expert. The pilot episode will be shown at CineVegas on June 19.

Caan's son, Scott, will make his directorial debut at CineVegas with the movie "Dallas 362," which is set in Los Angeles, not Dallas. As they say in the movie business when a film is finished, it's in the can (not Cannes).

CineVegas, in its fifth year, will have 85 films, including 12 world premieres representing eight countries.

Sports fans and gamblers will have plenty of films to choose from: "Something to Cheer About" (June 15-16), about the first all-black high school team to win a state tournament; "Year of the Bull" (June 16), about a high school football program in Miami; "Stuey" (June 17), about the life and death of legendary poker champ Stu "The Kid" Ungar; "The Dance" (June 18-19), about a convict going for the heavyweight title; "4th and Life" (June 20), about a prison football program in Louisiana, narrated by Burt Reynolds; and "Shade" (June 20), about a group of savvy grifters and card sharps at underground poker games.

The festival concludes June 20 with the world premiere of "Breakfast With Hunter," a documentary on gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. The self-described "most elderly dope fiend in America" will be making his first overnight trip to Sin City since writing "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" in 1971. The 1998 movie of the same name will be screened on June 19.

Ticket information for all of the festival's films and activities is available at www.cinevegas.com.

Vegas losing grip on big bouts?

While the film festival has been gaining popularity, another Las Vegas institution has been slipping. A high percentage of major boxing matches used to take place in Vegas, but we've slowly seen marquee matchups move to other cities.

Madison Square Garden in New York used to be the sole domestic competitor to Las Vegas, but recently, big bouts have also been staged in Atlantic City, Memphis, and Los Angeles.

Though not a major fight, a bout is scheduled between "Irish" Micky Ward and Arturo Gatti Saturday night in Atlantic City. The next big heavyweight fight is June 21 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, when Lennox Lewis takes on Kirk Johnson.

Lewis opened as a -800 favorite (risk $8 to win $1) and has been bet up to -900, according to odds by Las Vegas Sports Consultants. The over/under on the fight is nine rounds, with under bettors having to risk -140.

o Evander Holyfield and Roy Jones Jr. are reportedly close to finalizing a deal to fight on Oct. 4. at Madison Square Garden.

After Jones moved up from the light-heavyweight division and easily defeated John Ruiz in a 12-round decision at the Thomas & Mack Center in March, Caesars Palace put up odds on six potential bouts for Jones. He was made a -300 favorite over the aging Holyfield, who was installed as a +220 underdog.

The only other heavyweight whom Jones was listed as a favorite against was Mike Tyson. Jones is -140 if they meet.

o Speaking of Tyson, he certainly put his foot in his mouth a week ago with his much-publicized comments about the woman he was convicted of raping. That certainly put him back in the news, and since boxing is all about publicity and building hype, some people have speculated that he might get a big fight out of this.

But don't expect him to sign a deal for a bout in Las Vegas, where the really big purses are still earned. Tyson has been admonished many times by the Nevada State Athletic Commission that his behavior out of the ring is as much of a reason for his license being suspended as his antics inside the ropes.

You can bet the commissioners, who were reportedly softening their stance after two controversy-free fights (at least by Tyson standards), were grimacing over his latest public misstep.

Progress on interstate wagering

The Nevada Legislature was taking its sweet time this past week in passing the state's 2003 budget. The deadline was Tuesday at midnight, but legislators were unable to reach an agreement on how to pass on the funding of those expenditures to Nevada taxpayers and tourists, and debates continued into Friday.

But an interesting piece of legislation was passed Tuesday night that could have an impact on the race books in Nevada. An amendment to Senate Bill No. 3 gives race books the right to conduct interstate wagering - if the phone or modem call is from a state that also has legalized phone wagering. The hang-up at this point is that the race books would have to put a system in place to verify where calls are coming from.

Last July, the Nevada Parimutuel Association put together a "State of the Industry" presentation for the Gaming Commission, asking for help in keeping the state's race books competitive. The NPMA stated that Nevada was once at the forefront of marketing and technology in the horse racing industry, but that over-regulation has taken away that competitive advantage and Nevada has fallen behind the curve.

This is a step in the right direction.