Believe it or not, Robert De Niro may have his best foil yet in an as-yet unannounced feature called The Third Mile.
To be directed by Rob Bowman, this Columbia comedy will star De Niro as an everyday schlub determined to take down an arrogant Wall Streeter played by Hugh Grant. Grant's character has been described to me as the kind of guy from Enron, Tyco or ImClone who lives high on the hog while bilking his investors.
A reading was held recently for the story with an all-star cast, including Oliver Platt and Harvey Keitel filling the support roles.
Bowman is an interesting choice since his last movie, Reign of Fire, is described thusly on the Internet Movie Database: "A brood of fire-breathing dragons emerges from the earth and begins setting fire to everything, establishing dominance over the planet."
However, Bowman also comes from a long history of good, snarky TV shows — including a long run as a producer on The X-Files. So this sort of buddy-chase film (think Changing Lanes on Wall Street) could be right up his alley.
For De Niro, this makes the second project that's come together in a short time — no doubt due to the abilities of his talented producing partner Jane Rosenthal. This week, while they launch Analyze That, they've also cemented a deal for De Niro to direct The Good Shepherd, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the starring role.
That would make the second movie De Niro's directed (the first was A Bronx Tale) and his third film with DiCaprio (they appeared together in both A Boy's Life and Marvin's Room).
Last night's premiere of Analyze That drew both De Niro and co-star Billy Crystal as well as co-star Cathy Moriarty, directors (of other fine films) Barry Levinson and James Toback, talk-show host Caroline Rhea (who looked great, by the way), Infinity Broadcasting's John Sykes, AOL Time Warner's Bobby Friedman (no relation), comedy club inventor Budd Friedman (also no relation), manager to the stars Johnnie Planco and a slew of agents from both coasts, all of whom seemed to love the sequel to Analyze This.
The movie opens Friday and should give Warner Bros. a one-two punch with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets actually picking up new steam in the last week.
It just goes to show ya: Ceaseless, unrelenting, self-serving publicity does not always sell albums.
Jennifer Lopez has unleashed a torrent of it recently concerning marriage, divorce, diamonds and her Sexiest Man Alive fiancé, and still it didn't quite work.
Her new album, This Is Me Now, will likely finish in the top 5 in its first week out, but maybe just at number 5 — far behind a dead man (Tupac Shakur) as well as Eminem, Tim McGraw and Shania Twain.
J-Lo's new movie, Maid in Manhattan, opens next week and there will no doubt be the attendant publicity of her being photographed with Ben Affleck, etc. But something about all this obviously turns people off — it's not sending them into record stores, that's for sure. The new J-Lo will be lucky to do 250,000 copies total, and that may be a generous assumption.
Of course, the problem with This Is Me, as with Whitney Houston's new album and much of Puff Daddy's, Eminem's and other whole hip-hop CDs is that they aren't albums of songs; they're press releases.
On this offering, J-Lo talks about her jewelry, sings an icky song to Affleck and promises not to leave him (I mean, there isn't a person on Earth with a basic knowledge of this story that believes that) and covers — not too convincingly — Carly Simon and Michael McDonald's old "You Belong to Me."
At the George Harrison memorial concert in London last weekend, Tom Hanks — noting how the music from that evening had held up so beautifully from the late '60s and early '70s — observed, rhetorically: "Do you think years from now rappers will be getting together to, uh, rap their old numbers?"
I had to laugh at one of the lines in a new J-Lo song: "I'm happy that you seem to blow my mind." That's a keeper. So is: "I love my life and my public." Lopez doesn't know this, but Rodgers and Hart considered using the same line years ago.
Meanwhile in other, stranger, and more ironic news, it looks like Paul McCartney's live album sold twice as many copies as George Harrison's posthumous one in its debut week.
Harrison's lovely Brainwashed will just barely clear 100,000 copies total this week — an absolute travesty, if you ask me. I know that the Capitol promotions department staged listening parties around the country replete with burning incense and throw pillows.
But beyond that, there doesn't seem to have been any kind of mindset about George placed in newspapers and magazines prior to the release. Maybe it would be nice if McCartney, whilst doing his own publicity, plugged Harrison's album as well. Just a thought...
I'm still a little surprised the Associated Press never corrected its story about the George Harrison memorial concert last Friday. As this column said on Saturday morning, Joe Cocker was not there. Many people confused Traffic's Jim Capaldi with him.
Also, the final song was not written especially for the program. "I'll See You in My Dreams" was written in 1951.
So many good things came out of the Harrison concert, though, I think we should concentrate on them.
For example: On Saturday night, composer/arranger Michael Kamen hosted a pot-luck Thanksgiving dinner for all the musicians and friends who rearranged their schedules to be in London. He and his family really knocked themselves out to entertain the whole gang on their own dime.
The place they used for this was the 20th Century Theatre, an art gallery and performance space off the Portobello Road in Notting Hill. The cast of characters included actor Alan Rickman, Roy Orbison's widow Barbara and their son Roy Jr., former ELO leader Jeff Lynne and none other than Roseanne Barr, who came as a guest of comic and TV hostess Ruby Wax, an American who's an expat sensation in Britain. Roseanne looks swell, and told me she was getting ready for her "reality" TV show on ABC next summer.
While the guests ate and gabbed, some people complained there was no music. So Kamen, who is a legend in the business, played the piano up on the stage of the old theatre while Sam "Soul Man" Moore sang. It was very impromptu and lovely. It sounded like we were in an old music hall while they performed "Hey Jude" and other Beatles songs.
Earlier in the evening, Moore brought the house down over at the Royal Albert Hall as part of a Jools Holland Rhythm and Blues night that also featured Jimmy Cliff, Sam Brown (a very hot new female singer who has a hit in the U.K. with Moore as Sam and Sam), the gifted Ruby Turner and Squeeze's Chris Difford.
It was a very different vibe in the Albert Hall — rowdy and sort of wild. I think George would have appreciated that the world kept moving after his show, and that people were having fun.