There was a lot of excitement about A. Scott Berg’s book “Kate Remembered” when it was published last month. Most of it had to do with Katharine Hepburn’s revelations about Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart.
But now that I’ve read the book, I have to say I was most surprised by Berg’s recollection of Hepburn’s close encounter in 1993 with Warren Beatty. It is a most unflattering portrait, one that can’t have gone down well at all with the Oscar-winning director and actor.
Hepburn, you may remember, took a cameo role in Beatty’s remake of “An Affair to Remember,” called “Love Affair.” The movie, released in 1994, was a flop critically and financially. Hepburn played the aunt of Beatty’s character.
At the time, Dominick Dunne wrote a fawning portrait of Beatty for Vanity Fair promoting the movie. Dunne praised Beatty for coaxing Hepburn out of retirement.
But it turns out there was a witness to Beatty’s seduction. According to Berg, who is a respected biographer and the brother of the head of International Creative Management, Beatty used him to approach Hepburn. Berg’s observations of Beatty’s approach to Hepburn are priceless, and worth skipping to before finishing “Kate Remembered.”
If Berg is correct, Beatty wasn’t interested in Hepburn because she was a living legend or our greatest actress. His main interest was in seeing if he could get her to agree to be in the film.
“Nobody’s coming to this movie to see Hepburn,” Berg remembers Beatty telling him right before her scenes were to be shot. Beatty, Berg says, also referred to himself as “Warren Beatty, the movie star,” and later as “the world’s greatest living director in the world."
Berg writes: “I looked for even a suggestion of irony.” He didn’t find one.
Indeed, Beatty wasn’t the credited director on "Love Affair" — “Moonlighting” director Glenn Gordon Caron was — but Caron was evidently banned from the set when Hepburn arrived.
“I stood in the wings, alongside a slightly forlorn, sweet-faced, heavyset man who was also watching the screen intently, as Warren directed Hepburn in the scene. ... When the scene was finished, the man by my side introduced me and thanked me for my part in getting Hepburn to Los Angeles. Then I realized I was talking to the director [Caron], who, evidently, was not allowed on the set during Hepburn’s scenes.”
Hepburn, Berg indicates, was already suffering from senile dementia by the time "Love Affair" was released in 1994. But the really sad part of “Kate Remembered,” so far not addressed by book reviewers, is that the great actress’ mental condition worsened over the years.
By Berg’s account, Hepburn nearly died in 1996 and again in 1997. From then on — which would make six years or more — she was completely incapacitated, her short-term memory gone, and her communication skills mostly impaired. Berg also reveals that Hepburn died of complications from cancer on June 29.
There’s nothing new about record labels selling a pop star to the public. But here’s a novel method I’ve run across.
A newer record label, still establishing itself, is getting ready to release the sophomore offering by a recent star. I would tell you who the parties are, but it almost doesn’t matter. The main thing is, here’s the plan.
When the new album debuts this fall, the label will be looking for corporate sponsors. These sponsors are supposed to each cough up $400,000. In exchange, they will get private screenings of a one-hour DVD, which the pop star will host. The star will then give this group of roughly 500 people (including “key radio, press, retail, and tastemakers") a special private show.
Called the DVD Cinema Tour, this special program will extend to 10 U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington, D.C.
For the $400,000, the corporate sponsor will receive: Logo inclusion on the invitations, logo inclusion on the “step and repeat board” (this is lingo for the backdrops against which we see celebrities on TV and in photo shoots from red carpet premieres), special signs at the events and 50 tickets for the top execs (yes!) worth $8,000 apiece at the corporation.
Mind you, this is a proposal for the record label and maybe the artist to make extra money off the release of this big-deal album. Will it work? I don’t know. But I do know that the marketing company working on this project on the Upper West Side should be a little more careful with their paperwork.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that “Gigli,” starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, was a box-office disaster. The weekend take was $3.8 million at 2,215 theaters. The movie finished tied at No. 7.
How badly did "Gigli" do? Let’s put it this way: Gary Ross’s “Seabiscuit,” playing at just 200 more theaters, did four times the amount of business. “Seabiscuit” made almost $18 million.
So we’ll say good-bye to “Gigli,” which will no doubt get cut to 500 theaters this Friday and then get put out of its misery entirely. Columbia Pictures/Sony Entertainment will move on to “S.W.A.T.,” which isn’t exactly “The Italian Job,” but at least should be good mindless entertainment.
Every studio’s successes and failures run in cycles. Sony, once the home of “Jerry Maguire” and “Spiderman,” will be back before you know it.
Just ask Disney. Once cold as a stiff on "The Sopranos," they are currently making money hand over fist with “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Finding Nemo.”