By Stephen M. Silverman
August 12, 2003 01:00 PM

Ben Affleck may run, but he can’t hide from “Gigli,” so the leading man is finally talking about the disaster that was his movie with fiancee Jennifer Lopez.

Affleck faced the music on Monday night’s “Tonight Show” and at a press junket last weekend for his next release, the Project Greenlight movie “The Battle of Shaker Heights,” reports Reuters.

“(‘Gigli’) wasn’t good and we got buried,” Affleck, who turns 31 on Friday, told journalists. “I think there is good work in it, scene by scene. I think the acting is good — it’s a different character for me. … But I don’t think ultimately the movie held up as a whole.”

It also ended up in a hole: The $54 million movie grossed a pitiful $3.8 million its first weekend out and didn’t even make the box-office chart this past weekend, after its studio, Sony Pictures, yanked its advertising.

“Gigli” did, however, unite the nation’s movie critics. They all hated it. Affleck read quotes from the horrid reviews to Jay Leno Monday night, including one from a scribe who called it “a bigger disaster than the Exxon Valdez.”

“I think there was a certain amount of ‘Schadenfreude,’ a certain amount of a critical slam dunk contest that it turned into, like some (critic) was saying ‘I have been saving up this one turn of phrase all summer,'” said Affleck. “But that’s part of the deal.”

Affleck also said he was not concerned about how his and Lopez’s next movie collaboration, “Jersey Girl,” would be received, calling it “a really good movie,” and noting, “Jen is only in it for about 10 minutes, so it’s not really like a ‘me-and-Jen’ movie. In fact, probably after the towering success of ‘Gigli,’ I suspect Miramax will find a way to sell it as other than a ‘me-and-Jen’ movie.”

What Affleck would not discuss were questions about whether his visit to a Vancouver strip club in July had affected his planned wedding to Lopez. “You can tell your news editors that you are too big for that kind of stuff, that you are better than that, that you rise above it,” he told reporters, laughing.