Anne Heche | Miramax | Sopranos | Town and Country

Anne Heche: Book Her Ready to Talk

Look out Hollywood, and beyond. Anne Heche's book is almost ready.

The intelligent, attractive Heche — who got her start on the soap opera Another World and then wound up in her own personal soap — sold her memoirs to Scribners/Simon & Schuster last year. 

Now the tome is ready, full of interesting anecdotes, I'm sure. Among them: stories about her three-year relationship with comedian Ellen DeGeneres, as well as her own family life and an explanation of her odd behavior last summer when she was found knocking on a stranger's door in northern California.

But none of those things were the topic of conversation on Thursday night when Anne made a rare New York appearance. She was tucked into the front corner of Elaine's famous literary boîte on the Upper East Side of Manhattan doing what new authors do — celebrating with her literary agent. In this case, the culprit is the equally famous Joni Evans of the William Morris Agency.

"It's too soon! It's too soon!" Joni cried when this reporter was summoned by Anne to pull up a chair. "All we can tell you is Scribners has the manuscript, and it's perfect. They're so excited they want to move up the publication date to September. So somehow we're going to do it."

Heche was accompanied at Elaine's by not only Joni, but by her boyfriend. He introduced himself as "Coleman Laffoon" and spelled the last name for me at my request.

"Is 'Laffoon' French?" I asked. "What does it mean?"

"It means 'love' to us," announced Anne. She glowed when she said it. She is an equal-opportunity lover.

Heche and Laffoon — who was extremely pleasant — met while Anne was shooting a documentary about DeGeneres' return to stand-up comedy. He was the cameraman.

Next up for Anne is John Q, starring Denzel Washington and directed by Nick Cassavetes. And then? 

"We wait and see if there's a strike," she said, "and we get the book out."

A Spy in the House of Miramax

With the exception of Chocolat, last year was not so great for Miramax. The Lasse Hallström film received five Oscar nominations and won a Golden Globe and even made money — but perception is everything, and the feisty New York house was painted "damaged." Their biggest money-maker was Scary Movie, so gross that the parents of director Keenen Ivory Wayans walked out of the premiere.

Well, the movie business is cyclical, as we've all learned. This weekend, Miramax took the Numbers 1 and 3 spots with two well-made, well-reviewed, admired films. Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids continued to lead the charts, and Sharon Maguire's Bridget Jones's Diary was a sly number three — although it opened in limited release. By next week, it should be No. 1.

Bridget Jones is a wonderful romantic comedy and deserves all its praise. But it's Spy Kids that astounds and will continue to long after this first-run release is over. Spy Kids already has merchandising attached to it like crazy, with a couple of books from the Miramax/Talk imprint already out and more — believe me, much more — on the way. It's a franchise that should keep replicating its own success for several years to come. And don't forget more Spy Kids movies, and videos, and the eventual Saturday-morning animated version.

Nothing exceeds like success, as they say.

Another Soprano Death

Anyone who watched last Sunday's (not last night's) episode of The Sopranos saw Carmella (Edie Falco) visit a Freudian shrink. He was so convincing when he told the Mafia wife she was enabling husband Tony to be a criminal and murderer that we wondered if the guy was actually a New York psychiatrist.

Well, we never had the chance to find out. On Friday, it was announced that actor Sully Boyar had died on March 23rd while waiting for a bus in Queens. He was 77 years old.

According to his credits, Boyar was a member of the famed Actors' Studio and had had parts in such great films as The Panic in Needle Park, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, The King of Marvin Gardens, Dog Day Afternoon, Car Wash, Fort Apache, the Bronx and Prizzi's Honor.

Our condolences to his family. Let's hope the Emmy committee remembers to include him in their annual memorial clips this fall — especially if Carmella takes his advice. He was very compelling.

Town and Country: This Week, Next Week, Does It Matter?

Over the weekend, television stations around the country played a commercial for Peter Chelsom's Town and Country. They also said the same thing: "Opens Friday."

But the film opens next Friday, the 27th, not this Friday, the 20th.

Seems someone somewhere forgot to change the release date. Or update it, since T&C has had more first dates than Jerry on Seinfeld.

Or maybe it was on purpose. You know, announce the film is opening, and just pretend it happened.

Just to refresh your memory — as we prepare for T&C to land in a theater somewhere, sometime, here is an extract of the original article written by this reporter and published in the April 1999 issue of Premiere magazine. That's April 1999 — two whole years ago. My, how time flies!

Warren Beatty's next movie, Town and Country, is fast turning into the most expensive romantic comedy ever made — topping $75 million and heading north. That's not good news for Beatty, whose last movie, Bulworth, took in less than $40 million, or for New Line Cinema, which is putting up the money. 

Beatty and director Peter Chelsom, whose past credits include smaller films such as The Mighty and Hear My Song, have been at odds since the movie began production in June 1998. In September, three months into the schedule, veteran writer and Beatty friend Buck Henry was brought in for a full re-write of a script that had already been written by Michael Laughlin and polished by Paul Attanasio (Quiz Show). Henry was rumored to be getting $1 million down and $100,000 a week for his work, totaling $3 million.

"I will tell you this," says the writer of his perks. "I got a million dollars a week and $100,000 a day. And I got to keep three of the actors."

Henry — who's worked with Beatty on other movies including Heaven Can Wait — claims he doesn't even know how he got hired. Henry says the idea that Beatty brought him in is "just an assumption.

"I don't know if it was Warren or the producers. It's murky. And it's not a subject that would come up with him." Henry recalls that there were indeed "several versions" of the script when he came on board.

But the dryly comic author of To Die For and TV's Get Smart offers no clues as to why T&C has taken so long to finish.

"It's very slow," he concedes. " I don't know why. I only discuss the material." (A friend of Henry's admits: "We call it the Millennium Project, it's taken so long.") 

Henry disagrees with the idea that Beatty has overpowered a hapless Chelsom.

"They have totally different styles. Warren is very eclectic. I can't characterize Peter's style because I don't know him as well. But I know that Warren has not seen anything put together until now."

Simon Fields, Chelsom's producing partner, insists there have been no re-shoots. He concedes, "Warren and Peter have had a healthy collaboration. We would ask Warren for his opinion." 

Fields agrees generally that the budget increased with the changes, but declined to confirm the rumored figures. 

"The movie took time," he says only, "It changed course. It's much funnier now, and it's about more important things, deeper things. These people have smarter things to say and in a much more contemporary way." 

Beatty, for his part, says: "I'm just an actor on this movie. I'm not running anything." 

But Henry, who wrote the final version of the script, points out: "No big talent is 'just an actor' on any film."

One thing Henry does know is that in his version, at least, Beatty's philandering character is not "the conventional make-out guy. The movie is about the accidents in life after you make a mistake."