Archive Page 2

Hollywood Cougar Alert: The Pack Grows Larger

Here’s a new Hollywood cougar alert: this Oscar winner’s son is now living with a sleek older actress who appeared in said winner’s watershed hit. There’s a 25 year age difference between said cougar and her protege. He’s not that much older than her kids. The Oscar winner is said to be very displeased. I say, the kid has great taste. The funny thing is, I wrote about this couple by name earlier this year, not realizing they were together. D’uh!

This couple follows in the footsteps of Demi and Ashton, of course, and several others including a well known “older” and hot female Hollywood producer and a young filmmaker from a name-family. Lorraine Bracco has been down this road, too. And, possibly, Susan Sarandon and her new business partner. This, along with husbands leaving wives for 22 year olds, seems to the current celebrity trend. Then again, Al Pacino is 37 years older than his new girlfriend, and it’s applauded. So, who knows? I also love Quincy Jones’s mathematical explanation to me recently: the 77 year old music legend advises that your age and your lover’s shouldn’t add up to more than 100. Q’s current girlfriend must be 23!..

On Yankee opening day: former Yank pitcher Jeff Nelson stopped in to the Dugout Bar, across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe, to sample new energy drinks Sin, and Serenity. The drinks, much tastier than Red Bull, are about to add a chocolate flavor to Serenity, which works as well for sleep as watching Gus van Sant‘s “Gerry.”…

PARENTS ALERT:...Tito Puente, Jr. is the entertainment on Monday night, April 26th for the annual Give Kids a Shot! benefit. This is the charity that’s raising money for awareness of the meningitis vaccine. Richard Thomas is the emcee, and honorary chairs for the night are director/actress Liv Ullmann and Ambassador John Loeb. My old friend, Gary Springer, is one of the organizers. A new award named for his late wife, Nancy, will be presented to New York Ranger legend Adam Graves. Gary and Nancy’s son, Nick, contracted meningitis at age 14. Ten years later he’s a superstar wheelchair athlete, and a hero. For more info, call 212-244-7333…

Jack Kevorkian: Dr. Death Becomes a Rock Star

Dr. Jack Kevorkian: he helped 130 people to their deaths through assisted suicide. He spent 8 1/2 years in jail. And now, at the age of 82, Dr, Death is a rock star.

Last night was the New York premiere of Barry Levinson’s excellent new HBO about Kevorkian, “You Don’t Know Jack,” starring Al Pacino. The screening was at the Ziegfeld, with a heavy A list. The party was at the legendary Four Seasons restaurant. This is the top. You can’t do better than this kind of action.

At the Four Seasons, young girls in mini-skirts lined up to have their picture taken with Kevorkian. A listers like Bob Balaban, Michele Lee, and Garry Trudeau were guests. The Four Seasons served their famous lambchops and mashed potatoes.

The joke going around was: don’t even tell Dr. Kevorkian you have the sniffles. In case he’s trigger happy.

But seriously: Oscar winner Levinson has made an Emmy worthy movie, giving Pacino a nuanced performance–his best in many years. John Goodman and Danny Huston are very, very good in supporting roles, as is Susan Sarandon as Kevorkian’s right hand. Ordinarily Sarandon would be the female standout but “Jack” has a surprise: Brenda Vaccaro.

Youngsters may wonder: who is Brenda Vaccaro? Well, she was hot stuff–cute, smart and sexy–in the 60s and early 70s. Vaccaro was an “It” girl. sort of in the same category as Susan St. James and Stefanie Powers. She did tons of TV every year, dated everyone, and had a great role in a Best Picture, “Midnight Cowboy.”

In “Jack,” Brenda plays Kevorkian’s beloved sister Margo, his partner and rock as if her whole legacy depended on it. She and Pacino seem like they’ve been brother and sister forever. They’ve known each other in real life since the 60s, so that helps. “Marty Bregman gave us each our starts and introduced us,” Al explained, while Bregman beamed. “We go all the way back,” said Brenda. Pencil her in for a Best Supporting Actress Emmy next fall.

Pacino was happy cat all night. He brought his 33 year old Argentinian girlfriend, Lucilla, who’s also the mother a 13 year old. He also brought his 20 year old daughter, Julie, a budding filmmaker. A short film of hers called “Prodigal,” may play out of competition at Cannes. Pacino has two younger kids with Beverly D’Angelo, but this one’s ready to go in the world. She’s a smart cookie, and funny.

“She’s also a great softball player,” Pacino chimed in.

But back to Dr. K on the couch, getting his picture taken with nymphets. He’s very happy about the movie. And why not? It’s a very synpathetic portrait of a man who–right or wrong–helped 130 people die. These stories usually don’t end with lambchops. He loves Pacino. He told Al, “I’d love to go down the street with you dressed as me. I’d say, I’m Al Pacino and this is Jack Kevorkian. That’s how much you’re like me in the movie.”

Each of Kevorkian’s attorneys were there, too, but only one–Detroit’s Geoffrey Feiger–is in the film (played so well by Danny Huston). Feier rose to fame on TV defending Kevorkian, but apparently they had a falling out along the way. The more steadfast Mayer Morganroth, who’s mentioned in passing in the film, was the guy who really filed all the motions and stuck by Dr. Death for 16 years. He never leaves his client’s side. After years of pro bono work, he’s finally getting paid.

Kevorkian is looking forward to all his new fame, starting with that lunch time interview on Friday with Anderson Cooper. “Bring your toughest questions,” he advised me. “I’ll answer anything.” Stay tuned.

Schnabel Says No to Cannes, Yes to Venice and Toronto

Award winning director and famed artist Julian Schnabel will not be taking his new film, “Miral,” to the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.

The festival announces its lineup this morning. Schnabel had previously debuted his “Diving Bell and the Butterfly” there, and “Before Night Falls.”

But he says the festival wanted him to screen “Miral” out of competition but in the main festival. He said thanks, but no. The result is that “Miral” will debut in Venice, and then go to Toronto back to back next September. In Toronto, Schnabel, sources say, may also have a huge exhibition of his art simultaneously.

The Cannes fest is never without controversy, so some media outlets say they are boycotting this morning’s announcements because they’re being denied red carpet spots during the upcoming festival. And I’m also told opening night film “Robin Hood” may only have director Ridley Scott and star Russell Crowe at its press conference on the morning of May 12th. For some reason Cate Blanchett and the rest of the cast may not attend. Why? I have no idea. Usually the entire cast of a film sits for its press conference. Quel fromage!

Check back at http://www.hollywoodnews.com later this morning for the complete list of 2010 Cannes films.

Girls School: “Tanner Hall,” Toronto Film Fest Hit, Set for Fall Release

“Tanner Hall” the movie everyone loved last fall in Toronto. It was directed by Tatiana von Furstenberg and Francesca Gregorini. Yes, their moms are DVF and Barbara Bach (aka Mrs. Ringo Starr.)

Now the fate of “Tanner Hall” has finally been resolved. It’s been bought by Moving Pictures Film & TV. The indie group will release it this fall, which makes sense since it’s a girl’s school movie¬† along the lines of “Mona Lisa Smile” but better.

Last night, star Rooney Mara picked up the Stargazer award at the GenArt Festival for Best Performance by an Emerging Actor. And the movie won the Fest’s jury prize. Acura gave the filmmakers $10.000.

This movie also has a terrific turn by Tom Everett Scott, who needs a break already.

I do like the fact that these filmmakers have not used their family connections to get a major studio involved. They’ve gone the indie route and deserve kudos.

Whitney Houston Struggles For a Comeback in the UK

Whitney Houston is not having an easy time of it.

She opened her tour last night in Birmingham, England after a brief hospitalization in Paris derailed her first dates. This is after a disastrous bunch of dates in Australia a few weeks ago.

The British reviewers were not kind. Even though Whitney tried with all her might to resurrect herself, the voice simply is not there. It’s almost heartbreaking to hear her just not be able to find even the voice she had two years ago at Clive Davis‘s Grammy party. Clearly, her instrument is injured.

There are a number of examples on YouTube. Here’s one, a short clip of “Saving All My Love for You”: http://tinyurl.com/y2la98s

What is going on? It’s hard to say. Houston denies drugs have been involved, and we can only hope she’s telling the truth. Whatever is going on, this is not the Whitney even of more recent days. And it can only be frustrating as hell for her. She knows that somewhere¬† in there still lies what used to be the greatest voice of all.

Have Mercy: Sonny Corleone’s Kid Makes Good

Sonny Corleone‘s kid has finally done it: Scott Caan, son of “Godfather” actor James Caan, has made his own movie. And it’s pretty good.

Caan wrote and produced “Mercy,” which closed the GenArt Film Festival last night. IFC will release the film on April 28th, directed by Patrick Hoelke.Troy Garity, Erika Christensen and Wendy Glenn co-star.

What’s interesting about “Mercy” is that it’s a romantic comedy (with a little melodrama) told from the male perspective. Maybe this is a trend. Josh Radnor‘s film “happythankyoumoreplease,” which was at Sundance this year, is similar.

“Mercy” is very romantic, and Caan–who couldn’t get released from shooting “Entourage” in L.A. to be at last night’s premiere–makes for a sympathetic hero. It doesn’t hurt that halfway through he adds his dad to the mix. When James Caan appears on the screen, the movie ticks upward immediately. You want to see what he’s going to do about all this mushy love stuff.

Hoelke is an odd duck who dresses a little like Fidel Castro. But he’s smart in keeping the film intimate (not shaky camera, don’t worry). And he gets a great performance out of Garity, who has goofy leading man looks and a great unexpected sense of humor that lightens Caan’s character’s moroseness. (Garity is ready for a breakout lead role in an indie comedy.) There’s also some welcome relief when the going gets tough from John Boyd. And Wendy Glenn is a real find.

Why wasn’t “Mercy” in Sundance or Tribeca? I have no idea. It’s certainly good enough. I haven’t liked an IFC film this much since “Lonesome Jim” or “Me and You and Everyone I Know.”

Oprah Book: Ex-Employees Could Make Good Unnamed Sources

Who woulda thunk it?

The mainstream media has accepted the word of Kitty Kelley, a trash biographer who depends of unnamed sources, over Oprah Winfrey, a woman who’s obviously made too much money and been too successful as a broadcaster and philanthropist.

As of now, and thanks to the internet, Kelley’s assertions about Winfrey in her new book have been presented as a fait accompli. No one’s bothered to check them out. They’re just reprinted millions of times, from the New York Post to the Washington Post.

This column was the only one to call Oprah’s aunt in Mississippi, Mrs. Katherine Esters, to see what Kelley had wrought. And Mrs. Esters, as I wrote here yesterday, disputed Kelley’s claims. She says that Kelley manipulated and hounded her, that she never told Kelley family secrets.

It seems to fall on deaf ears.

The New York Post just laid it out, happily enough: “Lesbian fling, prostitution, and abuse lies.” That’s it, case closed. Unbelievable. Even worse: the lofty Howard Kurtz deigns to roll in the mud, writing about Kelley and using her interview with the slimy Michael Jackson hunter Diane Dimond, formerly of “Hard Copy,” to bolster his argument. Has Kurtz ever been able to book himself on Oprah? Probably not.

Kelley must be pleased. Her attempted assassination has no doubt caused the pain she sought to inflict on Winfrey. She’s endeavored to ruin a career far more substantial than her own by miles. Good work!

Kelley had a lot of help in this project. Unnamed sources are usually disgruntled ex-employees. In this case, Kelley has said she used people who’d signed confidentiality agreements. They’d have to give back their monetary settlements if they were caught.

It’s not hard to find the culprits. Oprah’s show has not had a lot of turnover, and the staff has always been treated well. But back in 1994 there was a huge amount of turmoil. Lots of people left or were fired. This could be an Agatha Christie mystery. (It was covered in Entertainment Weekly at http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,304426,00.html.)

Also, Kelley’s book is published by Crown, a division of Random House. Maybe they’re getting even. Back in 1994, Oprah abruptly canceled publication of her scheduled autobiography by Knopf, another Random House division. She returned the advance. But the decision left Random House holding the bag without its anticipated best seller.

And let’s not forget: there was some kind of manuscript or treatment from that book. It’s no doubt out there, somewhere.

Of course, the current Random House is not the company started by Bennett Cerf and run so beautifully for many years by Bob Bernstein. Kelley’s book is the kind of thing only hacks like Lyle Stuart would publish in the old days. How times have changed.