Quentin Tarantino — wild, unpredictable, funny — turned up Tuesday night to help pal Uma Thurman celebrate her starring role in a new Merchant Ivory production of Henry James' most complex novel, The Golden Bowl.
Tarantino hasn't had a film in three years, since Jackie Brown, but all that's about to change. He told me that he's almost finished with his script Kill Bill, a film noir that should star Thurman and Warren Beatty.
Readers of this column know we broke the story about Beatty's possible participation in this film last year. And last week, Beatty reaffirmed his faith in Tarantino.
So says Quentin now: "I'm almost there! I've been working and working on this great sequence at the end for Warren and it was driving me crazy, but then I decided to just let go and let it happen and it has and that's the way you have to do it. When I'm done, then [producer Lawrence] Bender will go through it and give me notes, and then if there's no strike, we start."
Tarantino also told me not to believe rumors of a Pulp Fiction prequel about Vinnie Vega and his brother Vic. "It's not a prequel to Pulp Fiction, but about the Vega brothers and what they did before the story in Pulp Fiction. I've always had the idea to do it, but it's not something I'm working on right now. It's way off in the distance, if it ever happens. First I have to finish Kill Bill, then I have a war movie I'm trying to finish."
As for Thurman's Merchant Ivory movie, I won't go into too many details here since the publicist for Lions Gate films wasn't very interested in this columnist's presence at the premiere — or any other press either. Suffice to say, the clothes and the jewelry were terrific.
Richard Dreyfuss, Oscar winner and Oscar nominee, is thinking of putting his foot in on Broadway.
Dreyfuss will make a rare appearance on May 4 in New York for a reading of a new play about legendary literary agent Irving "Swifty" Lazar. The play, Swifty, is written by Christopher Hart, son of legendary playwright Moss Hart and living legend Kitty Carlisle Hart. (Moss Hart — who wrote so many wonderful timeless plays including You Can't Take It With You, with George S. Kaufman — was Lazar's first client, way back when.)
Is that enough legends for you? Another living legend, Liz Smith, tipped us to some of this news last week in her syndicated column.
Annette Tapert, author of Lazar's official biography — upon which the play is based — is co-producing with another legend, David Brown. Brown is best known for a lot of things, among them: Producing Jaws for Steven Spielberg, producing Oscar-nominated Chocolat for Miramax, being married all these years to another legend, Helen Gurley Brown, and for answering his own phone yesterday! David is one of a kind, a great gentleman producer and a rarity in show business.
His Swifty sounds like a winner. "It's not a Valentine. I shouldn't tell you this," he said, "but Christopher Hart has figured out a way to show Swifty's soft side. He falls in love with his wife, Mary, after she dies. He doesn't like illness and he doesn't like death, and is overcome by hers." Indeed, Mary Lazar, who preceded Swifty in death by a few months, was his guiding light.
But the play is not all sugar and spice. A casting call lists one of the characters as Alicia Kwan, Lazar's mistress, "who attaches herself to wealthy men." So there are going to be some rough patches in Swifty. As for Dreyfuss, who's scheduled for a potential new CBS drama this fall, a Hollywood strike would advance the chances of the play coming to Broadway sooner rather than later. He's certainly been spending some time in New York lately: I've received a few calls recently with Dreyfus sightings on New York's Upper West Side.
"He's perfect in the part," said Brown, unapologetically.
Meanwhile, Brown — who is in his early 80s — has quite a few other projects on the docket including the musical version of The Sweet Smell of Success, starring John Lithgow. Brown and Success' original author, Ernest Lehmann, are old friends. "We speak twice a week at least," Brown told me. "He came to a workshop version and cried it was so good."/P>
Success is now buoyed by the sweet success of Mel Brooks' The Producers, a runaway hit on Broadway. "They've paved the way," David said. "And it's good to see reviewers appreciating it for what it is."
It's rare to see a big Hollywood star do full-front nudity onscreen. Even rarer when it's a rising star with a recent Oscar nomination. But Laura Linney, who was nominated for You Can Count on Me, poses as an artist's model in a new film called Maze. Directed by Northern Exposure star Rob Morrow, Maze has been unable to find a distributor. So it's being shown late at night on the Starz cable channel. And indeed, Linney is quite naked, top and bottom, with nothing to be ashamed of. Morrow stars in the film, about an artist with Tourette's syndrome, who falls for Linney when her boyfriend (Craig Sheffer) is out of town. Morrow's assistant (he was too busy directing an episode of Oz to talk with us) said they're still hoping for a theatrical release. For now, though, we can only count on seeing Laura in our own living rooms.