Will Martin Scorsese ever win an Oscar for Best Picture? No, says Warner Bros. chief Lorenzo di Bonaventura. Let me explain.
Scorsese has made some of the best movies in Hollywood history. Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, The Age of Innocence, After Hours (my favorite), Cape Fear, Casino — the list goes on and on. But he has never, ever won an Oscar. It's a crime.
Now, at last, he's poised for the big moment. At Christmas, Miramax will release Gangs of New York starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Liam Neeson, and Leonardo DiCaprio. From what I hear, it's a shoo-in for a Best Picture nomination. And beyond that, the Academy is sure to bestow Scorsese at last with this long-overdue award. They'd be crazy not to.
Scorsese's competition at this half-year point includes Christopher Nolan's remarkable Memento, and Steven Spielberg's AI: Artificial Intelligence. What may work in A.I.'s favor as the year moves along is that critics loved it, and it doesn't seem to be a blockbuster. The Academy rarely rewards blockbusters. But think of it: A Spielberg-Scorsese dogfight next March, when Oscar is broadcast from its new home on Hollywood Boulevard. How terrific!
Well, it's not going to happen, according to di Bonaventura. A level-headed, intelligent man, the Warner chief has to be taken seriously. When I mentioned this possibility to him at the premiere of A.I. last week, he responded: "I don't think Scorsese will get nominated. And he certainly won't win. He's lost touch with the audience. I don't think he knows what they want. The last good movie he made? Goodfellas," di Bonaventura said. Goodfellas, coincidentally, was released by Warner Bros. in 1990.
By the way, di Bonaventura did tell me that Warner's other big release coming up, the movie version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, is going to make the book's millions of fans very, very happy. That — and Steven Soderbergh's all-star Ocean's Eleven with Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and George Clooney — could give Warner's hat a trick this year.
James Gandolfini, the Emmy-winning actor who plays Tony Soprano, is one of the shyest people I've ever met. A big guy physically, he literally flinches in public. So I — and everyone else — was surprised when he turned up last week with wife Marcy to help fellow Soprano Dominic Chianese celebrate his album release, called Hits. (Funny title, huh?)
Dominic, you know, has been kicking around New York for about 50 years as an actor and singer. He was in The Godfather: Part II, and he had a long-running role on Ryan's Hope as Tiso Novotny, the head of a mob family. But he never hit it big. With The Sopranos, as Uncle Junior, he's smacked it out of the ballpark. Now you can't get away from Dominic. He's got his guitar, and he's singing to anyone who'll listen.
One night last week, many Sopranos were listening at the Twirl nightclub on West 23rd St.: Tony Sirico and Miami Steve Van Zandt were among them. Tony, who plays Paulie Walnuts, said to me: "Do I know you? Do I know you? I never forget a face." He looked a little grim.
Dominic's son, Dominic Jr. (who I guess is Uncle Junior Junior), was the emcee. Dominic's cousins came down from West Haven, Conn. Dominic sang some beautiful songs, including "Yesterday When I Was Young." The catered food was excellent.
Gandolfini's appearance was a shock. He never comes to anything. He told me: "I just finished shooting a movie. Now I'm done. I'm off until December. What am I going to do? Nothing. Relax."
I hear The Sopranos, by the way, will do a fifth and final season after all. Even though creator David Chase is only contracted for a fourth — the upcoming season — the word is HBO will convince him and the cast to go one more round in the spring of 2003. And then: fuhgedaboutit.
I told you on Friday about the ongoing soap opera at BMG Music Group, home of Arista, RCA and J Records. There are rumors that BMG — which fired its top two American executives last year and replaced them with a former exec who died — was thinking of firing Arista's LA Reid.
Now a British music Web site reports that the head of BMG Europe is out. Apparently Richard Griffiths, who was well liked and incredibly successful, has been shown the proverbial door. (That door must need new hinges.) Griffiths is the man behind the popular and best-selling singer/songwriter Dido, as well as Annie Lennox and others who've had big hits on BMG labels. He signs 'em up over there and then funnels them over to the States.
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