Coming to a theater near us next year: Ivana Trump, Denise Rich and Kathy Hilton (mother of the notorious teens Paris and Nikki) in their first movie.
Call it Charlie's More Mature Angels. But Universal Pictures will call it The Original Gangsta Bitches.
Already announced as a vehicle for Reese Witherspoon, OGB is based on the life of Cathy Jones, a vivacious real-life African American woman who owns and runs the successful Threat Records. This is the home of the Wu-Tang Clan, the rap ensemble that includes such colorful members as the currently incarcerated Ol' Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, etc.
Jones, whom I've met a couple of times now, is a resourceful, intelligent success story herself. When she told the story of her life one day to writer Lisa Schrager, the rest was history. Within a short time she had signed away the rights to her life story to Universal and Danny DeVito's Jersey Films.
Rapper Eve and actress Vivica A. Fox are currently competing for the role of the main character in Gangsta. It's a comedy, but you've probably guessed that from the title. Gangsta is also a buddy picture, since the Witherspoon character and the Jones character team up to pull off a heist.
"Ivana has already said she definitely wants to do it," Jones tells me. "Denise is in too. And Kathy will probably do it." That is, play Cathy Jones' posse, sort of her henchwomen. Call it Sex and the City, urban style. Other names being bandied about are Pam Grier and Joan Collins.
"Griffin never liked Charlton Heston."
That was writer Dominick Dunne, recalling his son's childhood disaffection for the famed actor when he used to read the Dunne children Christmas stories.
Dunne, of course, lost his daughter, Dominique, 20 years ago this fall when her boyfriend shot her dead. Heston is a vocal proponent of the NRA.
"I saw him on TV in an NRA commercial recently," the elder Dunne told a fund-raising dinner for PAX: The Solution to Gun Violence last night in New York. "He was twirling a gun around over his head, and I thought, I hope it knocks that rug right off his head."
Legendary New York newspaper columnist and novelist Jimmy Breslin introduced Dunne, whose nephew is married to Breslin's daughter. Griffin Dunne, all grown up and proud of his dad, introduced Breslin.
Before you get all excited, PAX was founded by Daniel Gross, a young lawyer whose brother, Matthew, was famously shot by a crazed gunman on the observation deck of the Empire State Building in 1997. Matthew has survived, although his life has been critically altered by the experience.
Other honorees at the PAX dinner included rap impresario Russell Simmons and New Jersey Sen. Jon Corzine. Singer Mandy Patinkin did the emceeing. Singer Emmylou Harris and Joan Osborne each performed; Roseanne Cash did their introductions.
Griffin, by the way, is awaiting word on his ABC sitcom, What Leonard Comes Home To. The show is written by the great comic Alan Zweibel, of original Saturday Night Live fame. Elizabeth Perkins co-stars as Dunne's wife. For ABC, it's a major coup to get this pair. Griffin is a talented actor, director and producer, and very well-liked in New York show biz circles.
Won't he miss his hometown? "If we get picked up, we only do the first year in L.A.," he told me. "Then they've agreed to come back here to shoot."
And everyone knows New York is the best place to shoot a TV show. Just ask Bill Cosby, Michael J. Fox or Dick Wolf, all of whom had their successes here.
It looks like country star Kenny Chesney's new album No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problems will be No. 1 when the figures are all added up this afternoon. Who knew? With his black hat, Chesney resembles a younger, better-looking Garth Brooks. That must be his appeal. The title track is a little like "Margaritaville." It's got the word "flip-flops" in it. Yee-hah!
But the big news on the new charts is the arrival of two "smart" records: by Elvis Costello, and by Wilco. I've written in this space about the Costello album before. It looks he will have his highest-debuting record of all time, possibly in the top 10, with When I Was Cruel. It's about time.
Wilco's story was written in The New York Times and has since been recounted a lot. Warner/Reprise didn't know what to do with the record — it was too good — so they let it go. Nonesuch, the pioneering label hidden with Atlantic Records, part of the Warner family, picked it up, paid the band a second advance, and got the word out. Now it looks like they have a winner. Wilco, which never did much business before, will finish in the top 10.
Just when you're ready to give up, something happens to save the day.