Well, it is indeed official: actress Anne Heche is engaged to her boyfriend, Coleman Laffoon.
I spoke to Anne and Coley (I get to call him Coley, you don't) in person last night right before Anne hosted the Gracie Awards for women in television and radio at the Plaza Hotel. Heche was so adamant about not speaking to the press that she skipped the cocktail hour and the press line, leaving those chores to Deborah Norville, Phyllis George, Helen Gurley Brown, Latina talk show host Cristina Saralegui, and actresses Linda Dano and Hilary B. Smith of One Life to Live.
Anne, you know, has several lives to live. She will tell all about them in her book, to be published this fall.
She looked great in a sheer pink silk dress. Coley, who is quite a nice guy by the way, was in a sport jacket, tie, and khakis. They make a nice couple. On her engagement finger, Anne sported what looked like a platinum setting with diamonds. In fact, it looked like a wedding ring.
“Please believe us, this is all we’re comfortable saying right now,” Anne said to me.
Coley said, “You’re the first person she’s confirmed this to.”
Kids, I appreciate it.
I did hear from someone close to them that last night Laffoon did New York on the town with Heche’s family including her mother. They had a swell time.
A lot of people are going to kick Anne in the press for the whole Ellen DeGeneres saga. But Ellen and Anne have obviously ironed out their differences. DeGeneres stars in a new CBS comedy this fall. Everyone’s moving on. How odd, since this reporter was right there at ground zero some four years ago when the two ladies were introduced to each other and walked off into the sunset. But that’s life, and that’s entertainment, and that’s all anyone can say.
To quote Chuck Berry: C’est la vie, say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell.
Kelsey Grammer and his wife Camille are in town this week. “We’re shopping,” Kelsey told me the other night at the Sex and the City premiere. “Then we’re off to the Bahamas.”
Grammer has no plans during the summer TV hiatus except to rest and enjoy the break before the 9th season of Frasier begins taping in August. He told me that he holds no grudges against the New York theatre critics who panned his Broadway MacBeth last year. “The audiences loved it, but we knew coming in to New York the critics would come after us. And they did. No matter, we closed early and tell you the truth I got a nice extra little vacation because of it.”
That’s called being practical. And philosophical. But don’t rule the Frasier star out from further theatrical involvements. He told me that next year he may star at Los Angeles’s Taper Forum in a play called The Libertine, written by Stephen Jeffreys and first performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London with John Malkovich in the starring role.
Meantime, I did compliment Grammer on the consistent high quality of Frasier, my own personal favorite TV show (hey—quiet down, even I have one!). To what does he owe this superior level of excellence? “It’s me,” said the executive producer, half-joking. “It’s all me.”
The rumblings are coming: A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, a $75 million sci-fi offering from Steven Spielberg, is about to hit theatres in four weeks. Is it the second coming of ET or another over-hyped summer blockbuster? Whichever, it’s the salvation of Warner Bros. studios, so dry and lacking for a hit movie that it’s not funny anymore. But according to the buzz, A.I. will save them.
The movie is based on a short story by British writer Brian Aldiss called Super Toys Last All Summer Long—available for free on the internet and in a new paperback from Griffin/St. Martin’s Press. The long and short of it is this: Haley Joel Osment plays a kid android who thinks he’s real and can’t connect emotionally with his mom (Frances O’Connor, from Mansfield Park). His “brother” and best friend is also an android, and this character is created, like Jar Jar Binks, from whole cloth. He is a computer-generated character and as such will not be included in Academy Award For Your Consideration ads next winter.
The big news is that Robin Williams, uncredited, plays a scientist. Ben Kingsley (better known as Gandhi) is the narrator. The rest of the cast includes Jude Law, William Hurt, and Brendan Gleeson.
Warner Bros. has pretty much lived off The Matrix for the last two years, casting about for a hit. Ordinarily a Spielberg movie would be under the Dreamworks/Universal logo, but Kubrick was under contract to Warner (that’s where Eyes Wide Shut unfurled) and A.I. was his to begin with. So Warner —which later this fall will have Harry Potter—lucks out.
The big question is, will A.I. be sufficiently simple enough to attract audiences, or will it more closely resemble a combination of Close Encounters and 2001—i.e. something textured and difficult and not readily accessible to the audience that went to see The Mummy Returns and Pearl Harbor?
Record publicist extraordinaire Mary Melia mailed me the new CD by Luka Bloom this week. Titled Keeper of Flame, this 12-track offering is a delightful collection of “cover” songs by the immensely gifted Irish performer. I interviewed Luka (real name Barry Moore) about 10 years ago when he first hit it big in the States with the album Riverside. He was charming, talented, and extremely self-effacing. He was also a vegetarian, but I didn’t hold that against him.
I wondered what had happened to him more recently. Well, the answer is that he’s got absolutely terrific versions of songs as diverse as Radiohead’s No Surprises, U2’s Bad, and Joni Mitchell’s Urge for Going. But my favorite choice is Rose Royce’s 70s soul classic, Wishing on A Star.
No more griping about there be nothing to listen to out there—get the Flame ASAP!
Tired of the terrible marital woes of Rudy Giuliani and Donna Hanover? Me too. Worried that the Bush daughters are acting out now that dad is president? I’m with you. The answer: Dr. Phil. It seems to me that only Oprah and her weekly guest psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw can handle these problems. Obviously we in the press have done all we can. So please, I beg these two families, call Oprah right now. She can settle these things, I know it!
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