Nothing is going to stop the movie of "The Da Vinci Code" from being an unqualified success--except maybe Tom Hanks's terrible hairdo. Sounds silly, right? But Hollywood, like high school, is a silly place, and folks never pass up a chance to play their favorite parlor game: trying to put a dent in a rival movie's prospects by quietly trashing it. For "Da Vinci," they've zeroed in on the flowing mane of hair that Hanks, 49, chose for his role in Ron Howard's screen adaptation. "In Hollywood, it's not enough that I win. You have to lose," says one studio executive who didn't want be identified discussing a competitor's project. "People are really trying to sabotage each other. It's not a sport anymore. It's a science." (Of course, when asked about Hanks's hair, this source didn't blink: "I loathe it. It looks greasy.") Columbia, the studio releasing "Da Vinci," declined to comment, but in a NEWSWEEK interview last winter, Hanks was jocular on the subject: "Let's just say I got positive feedback from the chicks in Ron's office."
Evidently, the chicks in other offices are less impressed. Whisper campaigns can work on a vulnerable movie, but even the perpetrators agree this time around that "Da Vinci" is going to be tough to take down. "I can't believe that any movie with that level of awareness and interest could be dinked by a conversation about a hairdo," says another rival studio executive who didn't want to be identified for the same reason. "On the list of controversies that movie is going to have to weather, I think hair is probably pretty low." Almost as low as gossiping about it.