Richard Gere  | Indiana Rides Again  | Jerry Seinfeld | Woody Allen   

Gere: Up for Tibetan Help?

Interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai wants to restore the Buddhist statues destroyed by the Taliban in February 2001.

But the restoration would take millions of dollars. So the word went out among the faithful: Who will help?

A spokesman for actor Richard Gere, who has been a very vocal supporter of the Dalai Lama, told me yesterday that "that is something Richard would definitely be interested in talking about. He's very supportive. I know he would be up for it."

Gere himself was en route to Europe to promote has latest film, Unfaithful.

Other potential fund-raisers to rebuild the important religious figures would be New York's Tibet House, which is run by Dr. Robert Thurman and his wife, Nena, parents of actress Uma Thurman. They and Tibet House's Dr. Nawang Rabgyal, the Dalai Lama's North American representative, would certainly pitch in if there were a proper plan in place.

Indiana Rides Again — We Knew It All Along 

It's like déjà vu. Variety announced today that Indiana Jones is coming back to the big screen.

Uh, huh. On Jan. 21 the title of this column was "Indiana Jones to Return…" So what's all the fuss?

This column reported back at the end of January that Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford were ready to go ahead with the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones series. Even though Variety is reporting now that the movie is a "go," we knew it five months ago.

Will we ever see Indiana Jones 4, I asked Spielberg, Ford, and Spielberg's wife Kate Capshaw during a sit-down following the Golden Globes?

"Yes," they all said, and confirmed that once Spielberg's film Catch Me If You Can, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, was done, IJ4 will be his priority.

"We have a title, but we're not ready to announce it," Spielberg said. "I will give you one clue, though. Kate is in it." I asked if he meant that Capshaw's character would appear via flashbacks, and he replied: "No. She'll be in the present."

Ford, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award earlier that night, said he's ready to take on this last chapter.

"It was always about getting the right script, and now we have it," he said.

Of course, Spielberg, as planned, has now wrapped Catch Me If You Can.

I think the more tantalizing questions about IJ4 now have more to do with whether or not Spielberg will become crazed with computer-generated graphics the way George Lucas has, and whether or not we'll be seeing a character played by Ford's girlfriend, Calista Flockhart.

By the way, Variety — the house organ for Paramount Pictures, which released the first three Indiana movies — coyly reports that "a deal is imminent" for this the new episode and a screenwriter, Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile).

Seinfeld Is No 'Nancy': Letters Has Author 

I'm glad to see that ABC has signed up Letters from a Nut as a pilot for a midseason replacement.

But I'm perplexed at the reports yesterday about Jerry Seinfeld's involvement. Don't these people keep up with anything?

Last year, on May 10 to be exact, I reported that Jerry might be coming back to series TV with something called Lunatic Theatre. It was a sketch-comedy show prepared for the FX network with his friend Barry Marder, putative author of the Letters from a Nut series of books.

Lunatic Theatre did not get off the ground, so now Nut may be coming to ABC with Seinfeld as an executive producer.

Nut may use Seinfeld as its bait, but Jerry is no nut himself. Even though there have been three bestsellers by the mysteriously named author "Ted L. Nancy" that played on the question of Seinfeld's involvement, I can tell you without a doubt that Jerry is no Nancy.

Indeed, this column has mentioned several times over the last couple of years that the author of the best-selling Letters from a Nut books is none other than the prospective TV show's executive producer, Barry Marder. 

Seinfeld wrote the introduction to the three bestsellers published by St. Martin's Press.

Marder, who refuses to comment on the authorship, is a talented fellow who last summer did a cross-country trip with Seinfeld picking up material and goofing in general.

Sort of a real-life George Costanza, Marder had previously pitched the Lunatic pilot to the FX Channel and filmed it — this must be one of the great lost hours of TV. Meanwhile, Seinfeld is releasing a documentary called Comedians to theatres this summer.

I thought it was pretty funny when I read the wire story. Either they're in on the joke and don't want to expose it, or they really think Seinfeld is the pseudonymous author Ted L. Nancy.

I can assure you he is not. But Marder, who also is famous for getting a pastrami sandwich with Seinfeld on the afternoon before Jerry's wedding to Jessica Sklar, is — and he deserves to have his own hit now. I look forward to the show next winter.

Woody Allen In Court: A Sad Day 

Woody Allen's case against his former best friend and producer Jean Doumanian finally went to trial yesterday in Manhattan. This is a very sad story. I cannot believe that Woody would take the case this far.

In his case, Allen claims that Doumanian didn't pay him $12 million he deserved from the pictures they made together, including Mighty Aphrodite and Bullets Over Broadway. Doumanian claims that Woody actually owes her money.

I cannot begin to tell you who's right. But I can tell you this much: Woody Allen's movies haven't made much money since the scandal with Mia Farrow and Soon-Yi Previn broke in the news.

In fact, at the time it seemed like his career would be over. Doumanian resurrected him, miraculously, and for a while some of the films were mildly successful.

Bullets earned 7 Oscar nominations, won one award for Dianne Wiest, and made some money. Mira Sorvino won the Oscar the following year for Aphrodite. In all, Woody himself had more than a half dozen nominations for best director or best screenplay.

Since the end of the relationship: zero nominations. Woody's subsequent films at DreamWorks, which I've liked, have nevertheless been busts. They were Small Time Crooks, Curse of the Jade Scorpion, and the current nearly dead-on-arrival Hollywood Ending.

One of the items cited in court was the movie Sweet and Lowdown, which I guess Woody is claiming went over budget and then did poorly — blaming Doumanian.

I know however, that Sweet and Lowdown, one of the more boring movies in the Allen oeuvre, was championed by Doumanian. She managed to get Oscar nominations for both Sean Penn and Samantha Morton — and the latter's part was a mute! Morton never says a word in the movie.

When the movie failed at the box office, Doumanian confided in me that she was heartbroken — and she meant it.

In court, I would say that Doumanian has the upper hand. Her attorney is Peter Parcher, the same guy who successfully represented Mariah Carey in her famous plagiarism suit over the song "Hero."

What's at the center of this dispute is money, and that is sad.

To Allen and his wife, Soon-Yi, who like the good life and know how to spend money (couture clothes, townhouse near Carnegie Hall, first-class trips to Europe), Doumanian must seem like the enemy now. Her partner and boyfriend, Jacqui Safra, nephew to the Safra banking fortune, keeps her in the style to which the Allens would like to become accustomed.

I just hope this dispute is settled before the case gets any uglier in court. Watch out.

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