Al Pacino has started showing friends the movie he directed. It's called Chinese Coffee, and it's based on the play of the same name. What's it about? Coffee is a two-hander with Pacino and Jerry Orbach in a chess game type dialogue.
"He's hoping to take it to Cannes," a friend says. Chinese Coffee has been brewing a long time though.
Meanwhile, Pacino is staging a reading of a script about Napoleon at his apartment tonight or tomorrow for other insiders.
"This was a project that got screwed up by 9/11," a source says. "But it's back on."
Pacino is definitely out and about. On Tuesday night he hit Elaine's on the Upper East Side and had quite a good time. Elaine's, by the way, is on a roll this week. Last night Robert and Katherine Altman dined with Richard Gere and Carey Lowell. They chatted about Dr. T and the Women, the movie Altman directed and in which Gere starred.
It could be the weirdest combination of actors in history. Or the best.
Director David O. Russell is readying a script for his comedy Existential Detectives. And he tells me the three main actors may indeed be -- are you ready? -- Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, and Catherine Deneuve.
"I'd like to get Jude Law in there, too," Russell said at the Museum of Modern Art "work in progress" tribute to About Schmidt and Election writer/director Alexander Payne. United Artists chief Bingham Ray did Payne's interrogation following a showing of clips including one from the Spanish surrealist Luis Buñuel film, Viridiana, which Payne counts as his greatest influence.
At the party that followed at the W Hotel in Union Square, a panoply of stars looked for food and got little in return. Among them: Marisa Tomei, John Waters, Matt Dillon, Mary Kay Place, Swoosie Kurtz, Chris Meloni, June Squibb, Howard Hesseman, Dermot Mulroney, John Ventimiglia, Aida Turturro, Alan Cumming and Willem Dafoe.
But back to Russell who, like Payne, sports quite a head of hair.
(Jealous? You bet I am.)
So last year at this time, Russell thought he had Mark Wahlberg and Patricia Arquette lined up for the same movie. Now it's this group.
The main thing is, Miramax and Warner Bros. will co-produce and finance.
I have a lot of faith in Russell. Three Kings was a great movie, and his first two -- Spanking the Monkey and Flirting with Disaster -- weren't bad either.
So we'll have to hang on a little longer and keep watching the detectives as they develop.
One of my favorite people in the biz, James Schamus, will get a special award for devoted service from the Writers Guild of America East on March 8. Schamus is not only the co-head of Focus Features, but he is also the writer of scripts for Ang Lee's movies like Crouching Tiger, The Ice Storm and the upcoming blockbuster The Hulk.
Another terrific presence in the biz, Nora Ephron, is getting the lifetime achievement award. I know Nora considers herself a director and screenwriter (two more things she's good at), but go back and pick up a copy of the book, Heartburn, when you get a chance. It's still hilarious. Her writing holds up beautifully. You've Got Mail isn't bad either. (Parker Posey gets the best line in that. Upon hearing an enemy died, she remarks -- I'm paraphrasing -- "Another person I wasn't talking to just died.")
I am sorry to hear that Kim Cattrall and husband Mark Levinson finally decided to separate. A few weeks ago, right before Christmas, I told you the couple denied to me they had problems after Cindy Adams reported they were split. In fact they did spend the holidays together and went to the Golden Globes happy and smiling.
Recently, though, Kim's been around town without Mark, and yesterday Liz Smith said they were separated. Page Six confirms it today with the added modifier that "they had nothing in common." That's a tough assessment since I know from spending time with the Levinsons that they enjoyed each other's company and tried hard to make their marriage work.
Marriage isn't easy in the best of situations, but it's got to be a lot more pressurized to watch your wife in various positions with actors -- even if it is just make believe. Good wishes to both Kim and Mark.