Kennedy Nephew in Rat Pack Movie Remake?
Christopher Lawford is headed toward a part in the remake of Ocean's Eleven.
Director Steven Soderbergh confirmed to me on Sunday night at the New York Film Critics Awards that he's finding a place for Lawford in the film which co-stars former Soderbergh stars Julia Roberts, George Clooney and a dozen other names.
Lawford, an independent producer and accredited actor (All My Children, Thirteen Days) is the son of the late actor Peter Lawford, who starred in the original Ocean's Eleven with fellow Rat Packers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. He is also the nephew of President John F. Kennedy.
Lawford told me when I saw him last week that he'd written to Soderbergh about a small part in the caper comedy. "My father was actually the one who optioned the material for the original movie. He loved those guys, Frankie and Dean, and he loved that movie."
Soderbergh told me: "We definitely want Chris in the movie. We're looking at the script right now and trying to figure out something. It's a great idea."
By the way, I asked Soderbergh if he had to choose between one or the other of the two hit films he has in competition for an Oscar nomination — Erin Brockovich or Traffic — which would be Sophie's Choice? Alas, he insisted he would not be able to. "Luckily I don't have to make that choice," he said.
Sunday night's New York Film Critics dinner brought out the stars: Tom Hanks, Laura Linney, Marcia Gay Harden, Benicio Del Toro, not to mention Peter Gallagher, the great director/writers Peter Bogdanovich and Paul Schrader, Oscar winner and probable nominee Ellen Burstyn, Richard Gere and Carey Lowell, and a surprise appearance by the French legend Jeanne Moreau. Sacre bleu!
And what a night for USA Films' Scott Greenstein, whose Traffic was named Best Film. USA was originally an amalgamation of three studios — Gramercy, October, and USA Networks. Now the studio is hot, with Traffic and the upcoming Michael Douglas feature One Night at McCool's.
And no one is hotter than Benicio, who's got two movies opening on Friday — Sean Penn's The Pledge and Guy Ritchie's Snatch. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Pennsylvania, Del Toro is the man of the moment right now in the world of Oscar buzz. His star turn in Traffic is the movie's highlight. And in Snatch he gets a good part of the action.
But his role in The Pledge is the scariest by far, that of a mentally handicapped woodsman who may have committed a terrible, unmentionable crime. Del Toro went to the premiere of The Pledge last week in L.A., and when he saw himself on screen he told me he had one word to describe it: "Halloween." Then he added, "I don't even know what that was," referring to his absolutely chilling performance.
Best Actor winner Tom Hanks, by the way, flew in from Europe on Friday and immediately called his friend and sometime director Nora Ephron — and said: "Let's throw a dinner party!" Ephron and hubby Nick Pileggi pressed into their service public relations whiz Kathie Berlin, who made up an eclectic list that included Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and comic Jerry Seinfeld — and then summoned them all to the Ephron/Pileggi digs on the Upper West Side. There were no regrets as far as we know.
Hanks, who is Hollywood's golden boy, is just unbelievable. He is truly the nicest, most down-to-earth guy — incredibly talented and successful — and seemingly unable to make a bad choice in film. After a run of stinkers in the late 80s — from Turner & Hootch to Dragnet and The Bonfire of the Vanities — his string of hits now includes Big, Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, and Cast Away. Not to mention voice overs for Toy Story and Toy Story 2.
Tom brought two old friends with him to the NYFC dinner — his Big casting director and his roommate from his pre-Bosom Buddies days in New York's Hell's Kitchen. So he's loyal too! I asked him what he does now to prepare for a new script. He said: "I don't read my lines. I look at the whole script. Then I try to imagine the scenes in my head and get the whole gestalt of the movie." He added, "Listen, if anyone had told me in 1981 this was going to be how things worked out, I wouldn't have believed them!"
The new issue of New York magazine is a prime example of a periodical being influenced by a press agent — or flack or publicity person. Whatever — it's what I call complicit manipulation. Both New York magazine and Ian Schrager Hotels are represented by Dan Klores Associates, public relations experts to the stars.
First the "news" in the Intelligencer column — which this reporter worked on in 1994-95 — that hotelier Ian Schrager is "finally opening not one but two hot spots in SoHo." The word finally is so important here — as if we'd all been waiting breathlessly for the former federal felon and co-owner of the original Studio 54 to start putting up velvet ropes in downtown Manhattan! The item, of course, is accompanied by a color photograph of a grinning Schrager.
Ah, but then to the back of the magazine, where restaurant critic Hal Rubenstein tries to revive the image of Schrager's Hudson Hotel and its Cafeteria restaurant. Readers of this column know what I already think about the Hudson, etc.: pretentious, obnoxious, exclusionary, and with bad food.
Now Rubenstein bites back. I quote the sub-headline: "Sure, the food at Hudson Cafeteria is hit or miss — but who cares? Since when did hipsters need scene and cuisine?"
After more or less skewering the menu and the décor of Cafeteria, Rubenstein concludes: "... did I ever see one sad face in this joint? Anyone radiating irritation, dissatisfaction or regret ...? Not only does the great hall vibrate with good cheer, but for a radiant hot spot, it's pleasantly unraucous ..." So radiant! So much radiating! No sad faces here!
And then Rubenstein warns us, if we are feeling sad and not radiating (forget about the food, or the fact that you can't get a reservation, or a mean service staff): "If Hudson Cafeteria is the right place for you, it's about as easy to enjoy yourself there as it is on Coney Island's Cyclone. But if it's not, admit it and move on. No, you are not too old, or too unhip, or a snob. This just isn't what you want from an evening out."
Got it, bub? Take your stinkin' money and your sad face and go someplace where you're wanted! And stop complainin', dammit!