Viggo Mortensen 

Rings Actor Viggo Acts, Paints, and Dates 

Last night in Los Angeles, the New York and Hollywood crowds sort of crashed together. The first event of Oscar week was an art auction and gallery show at the Ace Gallery in the mid-Wilshire section of town put together by photographer Michel Comte to help raise money for AIDS in Africa. Proceeds went to the International Red Cross, but what proceeded was more interesting than anything they could have thought up. 

First of all, perhaps thinking they were safely away from New York gossip columnists, some odd couples turned up uninhibited in their public displays. Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, freshly divorced, made the scene holding hands with the Queen of All Supermodels, Cheryl Tiegs.

"People were afraid to say anything because they didn't want to be disinvited from the Vanity Fair Oscar party," said one of my colleagues.

Well, since Vanity Fair's publicity director Beth Kseniak would rather roast in the desert with lizards crawling on her than invite yours truly to that annual event, I can tell you that we are likely to be treated soon to a VF feature on Tiegs. For Carter, this must be quite an accomplishment since the former model once dated Kevin Costner. Oh, if only Spy magazine were still around…. 

Meanwhile, Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen put in appearance at the Ace with artist/director Julian Schnabel's 20-year-old daughter, Lola. Viggo is 43, according to IMDB.com, but he sure doesn't look it. Besides looking like a couple, the pair have other things in common: each is an artist. No kidding. Mortensen's work — paintings and photographs — was recently shown at the Track 16 gallery in Santa Monica. I saw this show by accident one day and it was very impressive. 

When I told Viggo this, he replied: "I'm glad to hear it. I almost got into a fight with a guy the other day. He said, 'I'm a real artist, what business does an actor have trying to be one?'" Luckily there were no fisticuffs. 

Mortensen appears in the next two installments of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings series, but told me other than those he doesn't have any new movies planned. He does have an art show coming to New York in July, so collectors better get ready. All his pieces at Track 16 sold out right away. 

Lola, a pretty and smart young woman, was exhibiting three large photographs at the Ace show. On the silent auction sheet that hung next to her pictures, the suggested price was $200. A few interested bidders had written in amounts up to about $800, but Lola was not satisfied that her debut was going unheralded. So she wrote in another zero, making the opening bid $2000. Unfortunately, no one bit. 

Also spotted roaming this spacious gallery were actress Salma Hayek, actor Adrien Brody, and Melissa Joan Hart who plays Sabrina the teenage witch. Of course, in Hollywood — as opposed to New York — you get television stars at parties. There are about 1,000 more television stars than movie stars, and of course no one knows their names and in a year or so they're gone for good. So the other television stars — aside from Sabrina — swam past in a blur of flashing bulbs and air kisses. 

If you were looking for real star power, though, La Cienega Boulevard going south seemed like the right place. That's where Gotham magazine publisher Jason Binn and I pulled up to a red light side by side with none other than Matt Damon. He was 'Good Will Driving' a snappy looking Jaguar with New Jersey plates, and looking like a Movie Star with a big face-busting smile. Why the foreign plates? "It's a loaner," Damon told us as we idled side by side, then sped off with his girlfriend presumably to some swell dinner. A kid from the wrong side of the tracks in Cambridge, Mass is living in the dream in Tinseltown. Right on, I say!