Spiderman Action Figure For Legendary Actress
Rosemary Harris has a Tony Award, an Oscar nomination, and theater awards galore for her work performing Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Chekhov, and even Neil Simon.
But now the greatest honor: A one-inch high plastic molded action figure cast in her likeness. Why? Harris is currently shooting Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, based on the Marvel comic book.
Fans of Marvel Comics' beloved Spiderman know that in "real" life, Spidey is mild-mannered Peter Parker.
Peter, lives with an older relative, Aunt May, who has no idea that her wonderful nephew is busy crawling all over town every night.
In the movie version of Spiderman, now being filmed by Raimi for a Christmas release, Rosemary Harris plays Aunt May for all she's worth. Of course, Harris is not known for big-budget movies.
Last year she won much praise for her performance in Sunshine, in which she co-starred with her daughter, Jennifer Ehle. She and Jennifer also went up against each other last year for the Tony Award — Rosemary for Waiting in the Wings with Lauren Bacall, and Jennifer for The Real Thing. Mom won. (She has one other Tony, as well.)
Right now, Harris — who's got an Oscar nomination (1994 Best Supporting Actress, Tom and Viv) has a large cameo in Blow Dry as a blind customer of the hairdresser played by Natasha Richardson. She can also be seen in The Gift. So Spiderman is something of a jump for her.
"They're making an action figure out of me!" she told me recently with emphasis on the exclamation mark. Mind you, Harris, 72, is sort of a Judi Dench-in waiting, if you will — a seasoned and celebrated theater actress who's now making her late-in-life debut in mainstream movies. She's shocked. "I would do more films if people asked me," she said. "I just don't advertise it."
She has already shot a couple of scenes with Tobey Maguire as Spidey. "I do knock on his door a couple of times, wondering what's going on in his room. Of course, he's changing into his outfit." Harris says Maguire looks very good in the red, white and blue Spiderman uniform. "But I haven't seen all of it yet, and he hasn't spun any webs."
I am told that French director Luc Besson, who is scheduled to chair the Cannes Film Festival jury this spring, quietly closed his New York and Los Angeles offices in December.
Besson, whose credits include The Fifth Element and The Messenger: Joan of Arc — both with now-ex-girlfriend Milla Jovovich — had opened Seaside Productions in both cities in 1998. But according to a source, Besson shut both offices on December 31st without warning. It isn't known how many people lost jobs, but the purpose of the offices was to find and develop material for the quirky and not terribly successful (at least here in the U.S.) director.
The end of Seaside may have something to do with another company Besson launched last year, Europa Productions, and a recent scandal concerning it. Europa is currently embroiled in a controversy over a movie Besson produced, but did not direct, called Yamakasi: The Samurais of Modern Times.
Last summer Besson fired the director and the writer during the shooting of the movie, alleging professional misconduct on the part of the director, Julien Seri. Seri was replaced by another director, and refuted the charges brought against him. Now he's suing Besson. The movie is supposed to be released on April 4th in France.
It wasn't the usual kind of night last Wednesday for the cast of Rockstar off-Broadway. Al Pacino dropped in and said hi after the show.
Rockstar, which opened Wednesday night at the 70-seat Trilogy Theatre on West 44th St., is written by Michael Racanelli with Robert and Steven Morris — twin brothers — and Joe Shane. Racanelli is a much-credited playwright, but has a nighttime job too: he's the maitre d', or head seater, at the famous Elaine's restaurant on the Upper East Side. Bobby Zarem, an Elaine's regular and the inspiration for a character Pacino's playing in his next movie, brought the star along to the show. He was impressed.
On Saturday night this reporter managed to snatch two tickets to Rockstar, which seems to be sold out already. The show is still in its formative stage — it's still longish, needs a little tightening and a subplot (which I will be happy to offer if anyone asks).
But let me say this: with a little nurturing, Rockstar will be a big hit. The performers — Joe Shane as an aspiring rock singer who leaves his bandmates (the Morris brothers and Shannon Conley as a Sheryl Crow-type) — are all superb. The songs are terrific, catchy as hell, with a couple sounding like they should be radio hits.
Some New York-based record companies would be wise to get over to the Trilogy toute suite and sign these guys to a deal, put some money into the show. They could have a new Rent on their hands.
Special mention has to go to one of the performers, a guy listed in the stage bill as "Tony B." His character, "Lane Stevens," is the Vegas-type crooner whom Shane, the Morrises, and Conley perform behind while waiting for their big break. This reminded me of the story of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, who played back-up for Jay and the Americans while waiting to start Steely Dan.
Tony B.'s bio says that he performs at all the casinos, has a CD called Swingin' Around with Tony B. available at www.cdbaby.com/tony b, and that "he started singing at a very young age after hearing Bobby Darin's recording of 'Mack the Knife.'" You know, you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried.
Whatever, as the kids say now. The whole thing seems reminiscent of the fictitious story of the lounge singer in Woody Allen's Broadway Danny Rose, the guy who sang the hysterical "Agita."
Casting directors for The Sopranos and Law & Order should get a kick out of Tony B. He makes his mark with Rockstar unexpectedly. Bravo to him, to the cast, and of course to our pal, Michael. I just hope he remembers us when he's famous.