George Lucas | New York TimesMaurice Gibb | Michael Jackson

Lucas Says He's Got Story for Indiana Jones 4

Many interesting things came out of last night's annual New York Film Critics Awards dinner. For one thing, Star Wars creator George Lucas told me that he wrote the story for Indiana Jones 4 last summer and expects to shoot it sometime this year with Steven Spielberg.

The affable, modest Lucas was a great pleasure to meet and talk to, and I'll tell you more about our conversation in a moment.

But here are some other things that happened at the dinner. This is the real — I stress real — awards show in New York that counts, far different from the phony National Board of Review debacle that takes place tomorrow night.

The NYFC gave Far From Heaven its Best Picture award and also honored Daniel Day-Lewis and Diane Lane as Best Actor and Actress, respectively.

We learned a couple of things from this: Day-Lewis is as nutty and odd as rumored, and Lane is the only woman Richard Gere would leave his wife for. Gere said this on stage while introducing Lane, and then sat on the stage cross-legged and beaming while Lane accepted the award.

Earlier, Gere made a surprise appearance in the ladies' room of El Noche restaurant, where the dinner was held, because he said he couldn't be bothered looking for the men's room. Got that?

Gangs of New York director Martin Scorsese introduced Day-Lewis and revealed that, in the time he's known him — let's say a dozen years — he's actually called him by two names: Newland, Day-Lewis' character in The Age of Innocence, and Bill, from Gangs.

"It was amazing watching his process," Scorsese said. "Every morning we'd hear banging on the set. It was Daniel working up his rage by working out to Eminem."

At one point during the shoot, Scorsese's assistant had to put Day-Lewis in the same holding area as the men playing his enemies in the movie.

"He complained that we'd put him in this place with the Irish 'scum'," Scorsese said.

In other words, Daniel Day-Lewis was the character of Bill the Butcher for 125 days. DDL, as we like to call him, is up for the Golden Globe and will be nominated for an Oscar. But, like, yikes already!

Then, last night, came Day-Lewis himself onto the stage to accept his award. Bill the Butcher may be large and menacing, but Day-Lewis was neurasthenic, concave, lean to the point of emaciation and near-fainting. He stumbled and trembled a little on stage. Was this the same man?

Day-Lewis made some indecipherable remark about his house in Ireland burning down (a nervous opening joke?). He called Gangs producers Harvey Weinstein and Graham King "brave, generous and loyal." He then added that "my only disappointment is was not getting to see Harvey Weinstein play Bill the Butcher. He was his own first choice for the part."

Later Weinstein accepted another barb from Gere, the co-star of his movie Chicago: "Since the New Yorker profile, Harvey Weinstein is on Prozac. The kindest, gentlest man in the movie business, ladies and gentleman." Weinstein took the barbs with amazing aplomb.

There were plenty of other stars on stage and off at the NYFC, including Far from Heaven stars Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid; Frida star Salma Hayek, looking gorgeous and making the most, funny heartfelt speech; Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman from Adaptation; Patricia Clarkson (Far from Heaven) and Campbell Scott (Roger Dodger); and John Turturro, Willem Dafoe and Rosie Perez, some of our favorite local actors who helped with the presentations.

Tomorrow, more from the NYFC and George Lucas, and our annual update on the funny world of the fee-based, fan-filled National Board of Review.

New York Times to Yank Critics From Groups

But here's one bulletin now from the NYFC which is just making the rounds. It seems that, for the second time, the New York Times is going to ban its reviewers from being in critics' groups.

The word went out at the NYFC that Elvis Mitchell, A.O. Scott and Stephen Holden are being yanked out of the group by new Times culture editor Steve Erlanger. This may also affect the Tony and Obie Awards, as well as the National Book Critics Circle and other groups which depend on Times critics to round out their blue-ribbon panels.

This first happened many years ago, but eventually the Times changed its mind. Former film critic Janet Maslin is said to have correctly convinced her bosses that the NYFC needed the paper's critics. Now apparently they've changed their policy again. Stay tuned....

A Bee Gee Gone Too Early

The saddest aspect of the early death of Bee Gee Maurice Gibb is that you know those brothers were close. Now two of the four Gibb brothers (Maurice and Andy, who was not a Bee Gee) are gone, dead when they were relatively young men. It's a tragedy, as one of their songs says.

The Bee Gees, who started performing together while still children in 1955, were derided for a while during the Saturday Night Fever period, but the truth is they composed and sang many classic hits that had lush harmonies and beautiful melodies. Many of these were songs that had nothing to do with SNF. The movie was just another stepping stone in a long career.

Few people may realize how many R&B acts have covered Bee Gees songs. "To Love Somebody" and "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" are staples in classic soul music. Dionne Warwick had a big, big hit with "Heartbreaker." Pras' rap interpretation of "Islands in the Stream" was a No.1 hit retitled as "Ghetto Superstar." That's the Bee Gees legacy. Without Maurice, I suppose, the group is over. But the music lives on.

No New Mansion for Jacko

Don't get too excited about the Palm Beach Post story — the one that says Michael Jackson is looking at $45 million homes down there.

El Wacko Jacko was in Miami over the last two weeks seeing his doctors (there are a lot of them). His friend and sometime financial adviser James Meiskin, whom we've written about in this space before, suggested he go take a look at some houses there.

It was Meiskin who sought out the $45 million and $75 million mansions that Michael was linked to in the press. But he has no way of buying either. It was just the real estate broker in Palm Beach getting some publicity for unsold properties.

Michael still owes Sony Music $200 million for a loan against the Beatles catalogue. This loan, and others, have been publicly documented in the case brought against him by former business adviser Myung Ho Lee.

Jackson may have assets worth $750 million, but he is cash-poor. We've reported it here in July 2002. He is not buying any mansions in the near future, but just by looking at some, he makes it seem as if he might — and as we know with Jackson, appearance is everything.