You never thought of Sigourney Weaver as an Ann-Margret type, did you?
The smart, leggy, knockout actress is best known for her serious work on stage in New York and her hip comedic performances in Working Girl, Ghostbusters and the brand new Tadpole, which opens Friday.
But Weaver tells me she has a dream, and she's authorized this column to advertise it. "I want to do a Vegas act," she said. "The old-fashioned kind, with singing and dancing. Tell the world. Maybe we can get some offers." She gave a nice high kick when she said this and spread her arms wide. "Maybe Chris Durang could be in it with me," she said, referring to the playwright/actor with whom Weaver started out doing comedic one-acts many moons ago.
In Tadpole, Weaver plays the second wife of John Ritter's character, the woman who sparks the dreams of Ritter's teenage son, played by Aaron Stanford. After making her name in the Alien series, it's not necessarily the place you'd expect to find her either. Tadpole was shot on high-definition video for about five cents. It took a few weeks for director Gary Winick to complete. And yet it was the talk of this year's Sundance Film Festival.
Next up for Weaver is a film version of the play The Guys, which her husband Jim Simpson directed, and is adapted from his off-off Broadway play about a fire chief who dictates his Sept. 11 eulogies to a newspaper editor. Weaver and Simpson first staged The Guys at Simpson's Flea Theatre in Tribeca with Bill Murray playing the male lead. Since then, the 80-seat theatre has become the hot place to be in New York for actors from Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins to the current cast of Stephen Lang and Carole Kane. In the film version, Tony-winner Anthony LaPaglia will play opposite Weaver.
A sample of Michael Jackson's famously unreleased charity single is now available for listening right here at the Fox 411. After months of collecting dust, now fans can make up their own minds.
If you wondered where Paul Newman picked up such an accurate and lilting Irish accent for his role in Road to Perdition, I can tell you. He got it from Angela's Ashes award-winning writer Frank McCourt.
"Paul was worried that he wouldn't get it right," McCourt told me recently. "So I went over to his house and read the lines in his script for him. We did it a few times, and I think he pulled it off."
McCourt, by the way, has given up plans to write a novel following Angela's Ashes and Tis. His next book will be a memoir, he said. My opinion is: Don't fix it if it ain't broke. McCourt is such an outstanding memoirist, let him stick to what he does so well.
And for theatre fans, here's a little scoop: Jim Simpson told me he has secured the next new play by A.R. Gurney. It concerns a WASPy middle-aged man whose life is changed by a politically active Palestinian woman. "Pete wanted to come downtown and do something edgy," Simpson told me. "And wait til you see the politics in this. Edgy isn't the word."
First of all, let's get this straight: Liz Smith broke the story about Liza Minnelli and David Gest doing a reality show for VH-1. Time magazine appropriated that scoop for itself on Monday and the rest of the world credited them. No, it was Liz, folks. She's the Liza expert. Time is the ... I dunno ... Usama bin Laden expert.
Liza's little dose of reality will probably never come to fruition. One look at a pilot episode and Liza will realize that VH-1 intends for her to be Divine, with Gest as Gomez Adams. Why spoil an incredible singing career with Hairspray?
Meanwhile, whatever happened to Barbra Streisand and James Brolin's VH-1 series about a ruthless record executive? This column reported those plans exclusively back in March 2001, but since then ... pfffft. The project was shelved, but after some of the stuff we've seen in the last few weeks, I'd get back on that one. The timing is perfect.
All eyes will be on the Beacon Theatre in New York tonight for a Sept. 11 concert honoring rescue workers, their families and victims' families. Lisa Luckett, who lost her husband in the terrorist attacks, organized the benefit with Garry Tallent, original member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. The last time they did something like this, Bruce and other E Streeters attended and played. You never know what will happen. Other performers include the great singers Phoebe Snow and Beth Nielsen Chapman.