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If you take Pearl Harbor, Swordfish, Blow, The Mummy Returns, and the new Tomb Raider, add them all together and shake hard, you would have ... nothing. Perhaps the others were just bad. Tomb Raider is simply awful. It's as if Paramount wanted a new Indiana Jones movie and didn't care how they got it. So someone — namely, Simon West — spent a lot of money, stuffed a lot of junk in a rhinestone-decked trunk, and threw it manfully into the audience.
It lands with a thud.
How else to explain a line like "Your ignorance is amusing"? Or Angelina Jolie walking through the frigid North Pole with her maxi-length shearling coat open at the proper angle to expose her imposing breasts? Or her real-life father, Jon Voight, looking like he's still playing FDR from Pearl Harbor? Or a hundred other misbegotten moments better forgotten?
Am I being elitist here? I think not. Last night's audience was composed largely of civilians, regular people dragged in off the street. (There were plenty of empty seats.) They talked through a lot of the screening, laughed inappropriately, and were heard muttering on the way out. Luckily, Tomb Raider — which I heard many say was "just like a video" — is only 90 minutes long.
Someone seems to have forgotten that Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones movies were spoofs. They were done with wit, and love of a genre that had expired. The characters were carefully drawn, there was a knowing glibness, and the very inventive action was peppered with jaunty dialogue. Tomb Raider is simply the work of people who wanted that Indiana Jones feeling, without having a feeling for it. Please: Go to a barbecue, read a book, learn to scuba. But stay far, far away.
Hit Songwriter Doesn't Miss a Thing
Hit songwriter Diane Warren has been nominated for a number of Oscars but has lost each time she's been up for the award. Her main competitor has usually been that year's animated Disney film. So this year, Warren figured out a way, maybe, to win: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Even though James Newton Howard wrote the score to Disney's new movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Warren is listed as a co-writer on the title track sung by Mya called "Where the Dream Takes You."
The news has startled people in the close-knit world of commercial songwriting (this is the David Foster-Albert Hammond-Desmond Child galaxy).
"Diane never co-authors a song with other composers, just recording artists like Roy Orbison, Mariah Carey and Michael Bolton. She doesn't like to share the royalties. And she doesn't even like Howard," a source in the music biz told me.
Warren — who's being honored tonight by the ASCAP Songwriters Hall of Fame — may write all kinds of sappy love songs for sappy singers like Celine Dion and Mariah Carey, but her own world is an unhappy one, according to sources.
Warren is considered a pussy cat by some, but quite aggressive about getting credit and royalties. In one anecdote I heard this week, she called Barbara Orbison — widow of legendary singer Roy Orbison — and told her she was taking his name off songs she'd co-written with him because he was dead. Barbara Orbison, of course, refused to comply. The credit remains and Warren has to split the spoils.
And the rewards are huge. She employs 12 people or more at her home, all of whom are supposed to be making sure her songs are recorded and re-recorded in order to bring in dough.
Warren has written hit songs for several movies, most of them produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, including those for Coyote Ugly, Con Air, The Rock, Armageddon, and Pearl Harbor.
Meantime, absent from Wednesday's proceedings will be one of Warren's few collaborators, Steve Angelica, who co-wrote several songs with her early in Warren's career. He is said to be working for a limousine company in Los Angeles these days.
Today would have been author Laurie Colwin's 57th birthday. She was my friend, and she passed away in October 1992 at age 48, suddenly, from a heart attack in her sleep.
All of Laurie's books are still in print, including her treasury of witty, wise, well-observed novels and books of short stories. They are: Happy All the Time, Family Happiness, A Big Storm Knocked It Over, Shine on Bright and Dangerous Object, Goodbye Without Leaving, Another Marvelous Thing, The Lone Pilgrim, and Passion & Affect. She also has two excellent volumes about food: Homecooking and More Homecooking.
It's inconceivable to me that some actress of our time isn't busy buying up and developing Laurie's books for movies. Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Meg Ryan, and Julianne Moore are all perfect candidates to play the prickly, independent and sexy heroines of these romantic comedies.
I do like to remind people that in addition to being a terrific writer, Laurie also worked in book publishing and discovered a really prickly character, Fran Lebowitz, writing in Andy Warhol's interview circa 1977. She brought her columns, called "I Cover the Waterfront," to her boss, the great editor Henry Robbins at the original Dutton books. "I told him, she literally had no money to live on," Laurie told me. The result of her sharp eye was a pair of non-fiction books, Metropolitan Life and Social Studies, that have kept Lebowitz in espressos and straight-leg jeans for the last 25 years.
Do pick up one (or more) of Laurie Colwin's books this summer, and enjoy the successor to Dorothy Parker and Dawn Powell. You won't regret it.
You will see in Wednesday's New York Daily News a recap of the Fox 411 story about Rabbi Shmuley Boteach that ran in two parts two weeks ago.
Alas, the News' editors — I am told "for space" — decided to omit where they got this story. I know this is no fault of my colleague George Rush, but simply the ineptitude of a news organization happy to take credit when they can for others' work. I would laugh if I had the energy.
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