A LONG time ago, when the mood here was less serious, Richard Brener, a young assistant at New Line Cinema, had a nickname for Toby Emmerich, then his boss in the studio's highflying music department.

He was "Toby-Wan Kenobi."

Today, Emmerich is the president and chief operating officer of New Line , or what's left of it since Hollywood's hippest little movie company was folded into Warner Brothers last year. And Brener now oversees production there.

Granted, Warner isn't quite the Death Star. But invoking the Jedis and the Rebel Alliance may not hurt if Emmerich and Brener are to succeed in one of filmdom's trickier quests: keeping New Line and its special flair alive inside the biggest, most corporate of major studios. Almost 16 months into its adventure, New Line has been surprising those who thought the rump operation


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