Last night, the first Tribeca Film Festival kicked off with a fine new comedy, About a Boy, starring Hugh Grant.
You can thank Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Usama bin Laden for this festival. It was created in the aftermath of September 11 to help revitalize the neighborhood around the World Trade Center.
I can tell you that it's worked already. Just walking toward the Tribeca Performing Arts Center last night, you could see life has returned to this shell-shocked neighborhood. The twin towers are missing, but the people are back, largely due to the efforts of De Niro and Rosenthal.
Earlier in the day, Mayor Mike Bloomberg welcomed De Niro, Rosenthal, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and a bunch of celebrities to City Hall for the kick-off. Hugh Grant is still getting ribbed for using the word "buttocks" in his speech in front of Mandela.
The screenings of About a Boy, directed by brothers Paul and Chris Weitz, took up two theaters in the shadow of Ground Zero and drew hundreds of people to the Tribeca neighborhood. After the screening, revelers were taken on double-decker buses over to the Regent Wall Street ballroom, recently the site of Liza Minnelli's crazy wedding, for a celebrity-packed party.
Among the stars in attendance were Billy Joel, Billy Crystal, Chazz Palminteri, Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, as well as Grant, the Weitzes, Nora Ephron and a clutch of New York boldfaced names.
De Niro made a quick appearance at the reception, but Grant stayed and took pictures with fans. He even accepted proposals from various young women.
Grant politely told one blonde who'd worked her way up to him, "Thank you for the invitation, but I don't have much of a life right now. I just go to work, come home, sleep and go back to work."
He's been filming a new comedy with Sandra Bullock around New York. Grant did make plans to play golf with actor Kyle MacLachlan, however, and gossiped for a few minutes with Ben Chaplin about their nightclubbing plans for later in the evening. Indeed, the whole gang moved on to Bungalow 8 for an after-hours retreat.
Grant is overwhelmingly polite in person. When we were finally introduced he said, "If I'd known you were a journalist I would have been nicer to you."
He declined to comment on Elizabeth Hurley and Steven Bing's paternity issues, though. "We can't go down that road," he said. He said that making About a Boy had been "hard work" and that, since he made the film about a single man who faces a crossroads, he was determined to have a child "by the end of June."
Hadn't the movie aroused paternal feelings in him, I wondered?
"Yes, I'm very aroused now," he quipped.
Get ready: there are more Osbournes than just Ozzy, Sharon, Jack and Kelly.
Get ready for Aimee, Jack and Kelly's older sister. And even Louis, their much-older half-brother.
This weekend, Louis — an internationally popular club DJ — is coming to America from his home in Birmingham, England. He's playing dates on May 10 and 11 at Club Synergy in Chicago, on May 17 at the Carousel in Los Angeles, and on May 18 in Philadelphia.
DJ Louis has played all over the world, including residencies at three of Ibiza's top spots: Cream @ Amnesia (1998), Café Mambo (1998) and El Divino Sunset Café (1999). He's also DJed extensively in Australia, spending a good chunk of 1999 at clubs in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
In fact, Louis is spending most of next week in Los Angeles. Why not? His father and half-siblings are about to get $20 million for being themselves. Why shouldn't Louis join in on the fun?
As for Aimee, Sharon Osbourne tells me her eldest daughter will definitely be part of the new season. Previously, Aimee held herself above the carnival-like atmosphere of this hilarious exercise in cinema verité. But, again, the grass is always greener when it's seeded with C notes.
With all of these Osbournes aborning, can it be very long before we have the arrival of Elliott, Ozzy's adopted son? Elliot and Louis share a mother, Thelma, to whom Ozzy was married in the 1970s.
If Star Wars takes off the way it should next weekend, breaking all box-office records, then Griffin Dunne could be the biggest beneficiary of all.
No, Dunne — actor, director, star of After Hours, etc. — is not in Attack of the Clones. But the next movie he's scheduled to direct stars Hayden Christensen, the teen heartthrob who plays Anakin Skywalker, a.k.a. Darth Vader.
Dunne has been planning Nailed Right In for more than a year and a half, but didn't have a cast in place. He told me at Tuesday night's party for the Naked Angels theater group (founded by Fisher Stevens, Marisa Tomei and Rob Morrow and once the province of John Kennedy Jr., a faithful backer) that he's signed Christensen and Leelee Sobieski to play two of the three friends who are portrayed against a backdrop of the mob in 1960s New York.
The title of the movie, Dunne revealed, comes from the letters on the cross — yes, that cross.
"Right under Jesus it says 'INRI.' These friends decide it means 'I'm Nailed Right In,'" he said.
Dunne, a good Catholic, says he thinks people will have enough of a sense of humor not to get upset about the title. I think he's right. The writer of the piece, by the way, is Terence Winter, who's authored many episodes of The Sopranos.
So Mariah Carey has signed with Island/DefJam — a division of Universal Music Group — to make new albums. She will also get her own label, although that's an old story for Mariah. Doesn't anyone remember her Crave Records at Sony?
Carey is at a crucial juncture in her career. She can either make more inane hip-hop records, or she can get herself a great producer, pick strong songs, and sing for all she's worth instead of yodeling.
My money's on her to make a great comeback. But Mariah — call Richard Perry or Arif Mardin. Get Ashford and Simpson to write you some real songs. Knock this one out of the ballpark!