Fox 411: Jackie Bisset Rules Out TV Series, Likes Her Freedom


Jackie Bisset Rules Out TV Series, Likes Her Freedom | British Academy Names Nominees; Chocolat Hits Top 10 | First Marc Rich Book Ready for Stores | Jane Fonda's Book — You Read It Here First

Jackie Bisset Rules Out TV Series, Likes Her Freedom   

"I’ve been asked many times to do a TV series," Jacqueline Bisset told me last week at the Sundance Film Festival. "I don’t want to work that hard. I don’t want to be under that kind of impression for the wrong reasons. You wouldn’t have time [to spend the money] you made from it. You’d wake seven years later and wonder where your life had gone. Lots of people love it, but I need to feel free. I have a tremendous need for freedom." 

Bisset, 56, is a natural beauty and a tremendously underrated actress, who nevertheless works constantly. Much of her work has been in mini-series over the last decade, but she was once a "Bond" girl in the Peter Sellers 007 spoof Casino Royale (Miss Goodthighs), played a stewardess to Dean Martin’s pilot quite memorably in Airport as his pregnant girlfriend, was a heart-stopping knockout in The Deep, and produced Rich and Famous, in which she co-starred with Candice Bergen. In the early 80s she played Andrew McCarthy’s lover in Class

"My sons are getting awfully old," she laughed. Nick Stahl and Martha Plimpton play her kids in Sleepy Time Gal, and each is well into their 20s. "Some of my children are getting older than I expected!" 

She’s also had innumerable celebrity romances, including one with Alexander Godunov, the actor and ballet dancer who died suddenly six years ago. 

At Sundance, Bisset gave a spectacular performance in a messy movie called Sleepy Time Gal. The role required her to be in almost every scene as her character grows up, has two children, divorces twice, and finally succumbs on screen to cancer. It’s the role of a lifetime — but the movie, directed by Christopher Münche (The Hours and Times) — was not as much of a success as Bissett. 

"I’ve turned things down but I’ve thought, 'well I’ve done this and there’s nothing new in it.' I don’t want to [be] cast as just a glammed-up woman unless she has a lot of oomph in an interesting way or she’s really smart. Or very sophisticated and I can [do] some Oscar Wilde stuff. But just to wear a power suit and rousing around is not me and you don’t get any credit for it. Plus you can’t eat anything and you can’t drink anything and you can’t live. There’s such a pressure to look good." 

Bisset is able to bring a wrenching amount of emotion to her Sleepy Time character, possibly because she took care of her own mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease, for twenty five years. "I took very good care of her," Bisset told me. And indeed she — like Angie Dickinson, who cares for her sister — is well known in showbiz circles for bravely taking on the cause. 

"The problem is you think it’s going to stop one day or be over, but it’s not," she told me. "And then you must deal with it." 

Sleepy Time Gal may not be Bisset’s breakthrough comeback, but it’s such an admirable piece of work that it should reawaken interest in her. It also helps that she has the very motivated and able Chuck Binder of IMG as her new manager. She’s never had one before because she’s never planned her career path. 

"My plan would be, if there is a plan, that I don’t want to be embarrassed by my work. I don’t want to have to apologize for anything. I want to be grateful. I want to live in a state of grace with the world. I don’t want to be on some talk show saying, 'this so and so,' and whatever. And not moan or groan. Generally speaking, things are OK." 

British Academy Names Nominees; Chocolat Hits Top 10   

BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Artists, named their nominees yesterday in various categories. The lion’s share went to GladiatorCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Billy ElliotAlmost Famous and Chocolat also got a number of nominations. 

And in the domestic box office, Lasse Hallström’s Chocolat finally broke into the top 10 yesterday. It’s still playing in less than half the number of theaters as some blockbusters, but its per-screen-average is very high. Audiences like it, which means the film has "legs." 

The biggest surprise is the continued hold on first place by The Wedding Planner, an extremely banal romantic comedy that got panned by daily reviewers. Jennifer Lopez is the star, although her infamy is derived more from Puff Daddy’s trial right now than from acting. Lopez’s album, J.Lo, debuts on Billboard’s Top 100 next week at number one, with about 270,000 copies sold so far. Lopez has legs, but we’ll have to see if her album and movie do too. 

First Marc Rich Book Ready for Stores   

The scandal surrounding Bill Clinton’s 11th-hour pardon of fugitive Marc Rich is heading to the book stores. 

A 1986 book called Metal Men: Marc Rich and the 10-Billion-Dollar Scam by A. Craig Copetas has been out of print for some years. But an exhaustive auction yesterday among various publishers has produced a winner. HarperCollins picked up the book for "a nice piece of change," according to my sources, and will issue it as soon as possible, maybe by March 1. 

Copetas, a Wall Street Journal reporter, covered the Rich case extensively in the mid-80s. In addition to Metal Men, he wrote a New York Times Magazine story detailing the government’s efforts to capture Rich abroad. The effort was unofficially called the Otford Project, and failed to produce any results. 

Metal Men is significant in that it recounts Rich’s rise to power, his attempt to overthrow the investment house he was working for in 1974 when he didn’t like the bonus he received, and his arrogance in dealing with government prosecutors. 

In Metal Men, Copetas also explores the possibility that Rich’s secret protector in the U.S. government all these years may have been none other than Henry Kissinger, although when questioned about it Kissinger denies ever having met Rich. 

The term "metal men" is a reference to Rich’s former primary interest in international commodity trading: metals and specifically aluminum. Between 1988-92, during the years of the Bush administration, an American-based company called Clarendon Ltd., which Rich owned, sold the U.S. Mint $45 million worth of copper for nickels. 

Jane Fonda's Book — You Read It Here First   

Wire stories yesterday and on Tuesday failed to credit for breaking the story about Jane Fonda writing her autobiography. 

Considering how much mail we got on this subject, I think we can rightly lay claim to this nugget. The Internet and wires are filled with "exclusives." But you can get them here first.