Newly minted director George Clooney and some members of his cast from Confessions of a Dangerous Mind hunkered down for some good-natured hard partying last night.
And why not? They're about to leave town for five months of shooting this Miramax movie in Montreal, where production is cheap and the language is French. The movie they're making is about the biggest goof of all time, Chuck Barris, host of the Gong Show.
(The script, adapted by Being John Malkovich writer Charlie Kaufman from Barris's nutty memoirs, details the host's work as a spy, among other things.)
At the Park nightclub in Manhattan, various upstairs rooms and the downstairs bar filled up quickly around midnight. The real occasion was the dual birthday of actress Famke Janssen and Confessions star Sam Rockwell. Sam, who's sporting a full and wild, spiky beard these days — perhaps to get in character — plays Barris in the film.
Also on hand for late-night dancing and general ebullience were Clooney's Ocean's 11 co-star Matt Damon, plus Marisa Tomei, rocker Moby, former model Rachel Williams — who's Janssen's sister-in-law — actors Griffin Dunne, Fisher Stevens, Casey Affleck, Rory Cochrane and Michael Panes, as well as Rosie Perez and her husband, director Seth Rosenfeld. The latter two were on hand already at the Park, toasting the premiere of their own terrific new indie movie, King of the Jungle, which opens Friday.
Indeed, the two parties were supposed to be separated by some amount of time, but as things happened, they weren't — and there was some consequent confusion.
"When I got here, I went upstairs for the birthday party," a bewildered Matt Damon said, "and suddenly photographers were taking my picture and asking me how I liked the movie. I didn't know what they were talking about, so I got right out of there."
Damon, an Oscar winner who's very personable and unaffected, wound up spending a good hour pinned against the Park bar chatting with diners and Jungle guests he'd never seen before in his life.
When one local woman told him she'd been evacuated from her downtown apartment for a month beginning Sept. 11, Damon replied: "I moved into my new apartment in New York on September 10th at 1 a.m." He shook his head. "The phone was ringing off the hook the next morning."
Elsewhere around the Park, Clooney — who's making his directorial debut with Confessions — shared a couple of tight bear hugs with Tomei before she had to leave.
"I've got an early flight," she exclaimed and exited reluctantly.
Did Michael Jackson outsell baby sister Janet last week?
The answer will be in Tuesday evening, but it doesn't look good for the Gloved One.
Janet Jackson's album All for You debuted last spring with a total of 606,000 copies in its first week.
But when SoundScan finishes counting the sales for the first week of Invincible, Michael''s much-maligned new recording, don't expect to get near that number.
His 30th-anniversary comeback concerts, plans for charity singles and free advertising for a CBS special won't be enough for him to top Janet's 2001 offering.
Who knows? She may be eligible for a bunch of free rides on Michael's carousel.
Tower Records told me yesterday that nationally they sold 13,000 copies. This was from the 50,000 of their initial order. If you divided that evenly, it would mean that Invincible sold an average of 127 copies per store.
But that's not the way it works. Roughly 1,000 copies were sold just at Tower in Lincoln Center and Greenwich Village, suggesting that Jackson's sales were concentrated in white, upscale neighborhoods.
At those stores, Invincible outsold releases considered hipper and better promoted. One manager told me: "I'm amazed. He did twice as many copies as Lenny Kravitz, who's more cutting-edge and relatively better known among young people. I would never underestimate Michael Jackson."
Despite the fact that Invincible got across the board negative reviews, the manager is correct in his assessment. Jackson's hard-core fans went out and did the impossible, certainly. But when SoundScan finishes its count, Jackson may have sold 250,000-300,000 copies total. That may qualify the CD to be No.1, but it's not a high enough number to help Jackson out of his dire financial situation.
Britney's Diary, Appearances Omit Singing
To call Britney Spears an embarrassment as a performer would be too easy. She's certainly been clever enough to tap into something out there, because she's laughing all the way to the bank.
But on her MTV Diary special, something interesting is revealed. In an hour of spending time with Spears, she never once sings. She doesn't even hum.
As an interviewer, I've spent countless amounts of time with vocal performers and I can tell you that they are usually unrestrained about singing. From Carly Simon to Richie Sambora to Elvis Costello — not to mention all the R&B greats from Carla Thomas to Whitney Houston and Wilson Pickett — no singer goes very long in a day without testing his or her voice.
In Diary, Spears does not sing a note. She talks a lot — babbles really — about utter nonsense, but no one expects her to be a genius. She barely has a high-school education.
But even the most illiterate performer might feel compelled to show off a little for the camera. Not Britney. If she knows how to sing, it wasn't important enough to surface during her video diary.
On Rosie O'Donnell's talk show yesterday, Britney made another appearance. Filmed in September as a promotion for her Nov. 13 HBO special, the segment featured Spears singing a new song. (HBO and Rosie are both part of the AOL/Time Warner set-up.)
Alas, the lip-synching was so dreadful that it seemed like Spears didn't even know the song. Lip-synching is an art, but the performer has to at least know the material. Spears seemed as though she was performing in a Japanese sci-fi movie.
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