As may you have heard, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is coming home in exactly one year.
Director Steven Spielberg told me last week that his great 1982 Oscar-nominated box office blockbuster and beloved favorite will have its 20th anniversary release in April 2002. And this won't be some small event. Spielberg has spruced up E.T. with never-before-seen scenes and all the juice of a remastered film. More importantly, the release will be wide, as if it were a new movie.
"Back in 1982, when the movie played the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles, the rule was it had to be an exclusive arrangement," Spielberg said. "So E.T. played for four weeks in Los Angeles at just that theater." This was in response to my volunteered information: this reporter can recall standing in a long, long line waiting to get in.
"So now the release will be big and everyone, everywhere can see it," Spielberg added.
The press events and reunion should be interesting when E.T. returns. Star Henry Thomas, who played Elliott, told me recently that he has not been in touch with or seen co-star Drew Barrymore since they were children.
Thomas has been in touch with Robert McNaughton, who played his brother. But McNaughton has dropped out of show business, preferring normal life to the harsh glare of Hollywood and the tricky transition to adult roles. Thomas just did a very impressive turn in All the Pretty Horses with Matt Damon.
Not only that, but Harrison Ford's wife, Melissa Mathison, wrote the script for ET. The couple is currently separated.
Meantime, Spielberg has very quickly jumped into filming Minority Report with Tom Cruise even though he's not finished yet with A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, the movie that the late Stanley Kubrick planned to film and which Spielberg made as a tribute to him.
"We still have over 500 optical effects to put into AI," Spielberg told me, "so in that sense it's not over, and we're doing Minority Report at the same time."
Lasse Hallström's Chocolat has now taken in $64.3 million and is headed to a minimum $70 million total in the U.S. alone. No, it didn't win any of the five Oscars it was nominated for, but who cares, right?
Chocolat — with good actors like Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp and Lena Olin — has made more at the box office than The Mexican did with megastars Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt. At $52 million and fading, The Mexican is not looking too healthy.
Meanwhile, Chocolat only cost $26 million to make, and that's with the kangaroo.
Hallström is in Nova Scotia filming his third Miramax movie, The Shipping News, based on E. Annie Proulx's popular and award-winning novel. It has a can't-go-wrong feel to it — Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, and Judi Dench are all past Oscar contenders or winners. Hallström — whose My Life as a Dog is a classic — has hit his stride following The Cider House Rules.
Hallström had a bad time in Hollywood following My Life as a Dog, which was exceptionally successful in the U.S. for a foreign-language movie. He hooked up with a producer who promised to help him remake Peter Pan. But Steven Spielberg (see above) "bought up the rights to everything concerning Peter Pan for Hook, so we were stuck," says Hallström. "It's too bad — I had a very good script."
What did this laid-back Swede learn during this very difficult episode? "The art of the shmooze," he told me. No doubt it's helped him into this new and exciting chapter of his career.
In the category of "now we've heard it all": Robert Rehme to Wolfgang Puck at the start of the Governor's Ball: "We were worried the show would run too short and the food wouldn't be ready."
At the Miramax pre-Oscar party: Eva Marie Saint introducing herself to Judi Dench. "I'm Eva Maria Saint." Dench, obviously knowing who she was, quite flustered. Later, at the Elton John party, Dame Judi, who is the loveliest and most well-behaved of all the Oscar nominees: "It's not that I don't care if I don't win, it just doesn't matter."
Susanna Hoffs getting to sing Fool in Love from Meet the Parents with Randy Newman on piano. No one mentioned that Hoffs, the former lead singer of the Bangles, is married to Parents director Jay Roach. Martin Short zipping along at Ed Limato's mansion…
Jimmy Fallon's funny home movie shown at the Miramax party, taped in his studio apartment. Next day he was in Florida, performing stand-up and getting the key to a city. Fallon is always touring college campuses. He's become a fixture at certain events. You keep getting the feeling something big is about to happen with him. Not sure what. Same for SNL's Ana Gasteyer, who wants to do musicals and is more talented than given credit. She is SNL's secret weapon…
Also at the Miramax party: Jon Abrahams, one of the few young actors — with Ben Foster — whom you look forward to seeing. And Tatum O'Neal with fiancé Steve Hutensky, looking better than ever and planning a comeback. If Tatum can keep herself together and get serious, then a comeback for this talented actress is certain. Let's hope so.
Finally, after Brill's Content and this column wrote about New York Times reporter Tim Golden's contribution to Traffic, we would have thought that winning screenwriter Stephen Gaghan would toss him a bone in his acceptance speech. Not a word, though, when the moment arrived. Almost as bad as Julia Roberts forgetting to mention the real Erin Brockovich in her speech.