The great modern actress Glenn Close -- five times nominated for Academy Awards -- isn't mad at Katharine Hepburn. She would have reason to be, however, if she were so inclined. In his bestseller, "Kate Remembered," Scott Berg says Hepburn didn't like Close close-up.
"She has big feet," Berg quotes Hepburn about the Tony and Emmy winner.
In fact, Close -- who does a nice star turn in Merchant-Ivory's "Le Divorce" has very nice, sexy, normal-to-smallish size feet. I was introduced to them the other night clad in pumps.
"I had to laugh when I read that," Close told me. "I've been thinking about writing an Op Ed piece about her. A few years ago I participated in a Kennedy Center Honors tribute to her. She wrote me a wonderful letter afterwards that I might quote from. I know she came to see us three times when I was on Broadway in "The Real Thing." That's where the feet thing came from. I was barefoot in it."
Hepburn would have had to be using binoculars even from the front row to get much of a view of Close's toes, however.
Close always felt a certain close-ness to Hepburn. Like the late star, she too comes from Connecticut and had a doctor father. There's no question that the two women share a patrician acting style that makes them a cut above. And Close, like Hepburn, lives an independent lifestyle on the East Coast, far from Hollywood, tabloids and convention.
Right now she's filming the remake of "The Stepford Wives" in, of all places, her hometown of Greenwich, Conn. She and Christopher Walken are one couple. Matthew Broderick and Nicole Kidman are another.
And then there's Bette Midler.
"Wait 'til you see Bette Midler!" Close exclaimed, and her eyes rolled around with delight.
As for Hepburn, if the Berg book seems too much about Scott Berg, you might take a look at the Septmeber issue of Premiere. They've got a fantastic oral history of the actress put together by writer Al Weisel and editor Kathy Heintzelman -- with great reminiscences from an all-star cast of real friends including Christopher Reeve, Anthony Harvey, Lauren Bacall, Angela Lansbury, Sam Waterston, Mark Rydell, Edward Albee, Sidney Lumet and others.
Premiere, by the way, continues to be the little engine that could, providing excellent coverage of the movie business every month with the fewest resources of any magazine. It's much more informative than anything put out by Conde Nast, and is produced on a fraction of the budget. I will be relying on their Fall Preview coverage, for example. The new issue also features the first look, on the cover, of Tom Cruise in "The Last Samurai."
Last night, during her puff piece on Kevin Costner on "Prime Time Live," Diane Sawyer said, "We checked, and 'Waterworld' made $350 million worldwide." She was responding to Costner's assertion that the movie "made a lot of money."
The 1995 epic in fact, according to the Internet Movie Database, made $255 million worldwide. It also cost $175 million. In the United States, the movie grossed $88 million. According to showbizdata.com, its prints and ads cost an additional $36 million. Its best weekend take in the United States, where it was made and where we live, was $21 million. It was considered a failure.
Interestingly, showbizdata.com says "Waterworld" has a worldwide take of $137.25 million. They take in the U.S. box office plus Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, France and Brazil.
Granted, in countries where English doesn't matter, "Waterworld" attracted audiences. Exotic fish loved it. Johnny Gill was surely a fan.
(The people had gills, get it?)
Costner is busy publicizing "Open Range" (a Disney movie, which Sawyer didn't mention -- her network is owned by Disney). Rather than accentuating his successes like "Dances with Wolves" and "The Bodyguard," Costner is taking personal umbrage at descriptions of "Waterworld" and "The Postman" as flops. The latter cost over $100 million to make and took in a mere $17 million.
I don't know what to do with Kevin Costner. He's very charming in person. He's made some good movies and some really bad ones. He has Oscars. Obviously, he's proud of "Waterworld," a film whose director (Kevin Reynolds, his "best" friend) was pushed out before the film was finished being made.
But if Costner just said, 'Yeah, it was kind of a bust but I'm proud of it,' I think everyone would walk away happy. But you can't rewrite history. "Waterworld" joins "The Postman," "Ishtar," "Heaven's Gate," "Swept Away," "Glitter," "Gigli" and many others on the all-time turkey list. Gobble, gobble.
Still looking to cash in on a little publicity, Lisa Marie Presley is now swinging at wild pitches.
This week she gave some idiotic interview that got picked up in a few places. She said she was mad that Michael Jackson owned some of her father's songs. She said she heard "Burning Love" used in a Velveeta commercial.
First of all, honey, Elvis Presley was a great performer -- but he didn't write the songs, OK? Lieber and Stoller wrote a bunch of them. In the case of "Burning Love," it was a guy named Dennis Linde. Your name is not Lisa Marie Linde.
For your information: "Burning Love" is part of the Sony/ATV Music Publishing catalog. That's what's euphemistically known as the Beatles catalogue. If you've been following the story, Michael does not administer that bunch of songs. He borrowed $200 million against it.
Sony controls "Burning Love." Michael has a llama.
Lisa Marie, you may not want to hear "Burning Love" as a Velveeta commercial, but Dennis Linde or his family is probably very happy to license it since Elvis' version was a hit 30 years ago.
Maybe it was his new guitar that got Gavin Degraw all fired up this week. His performances at Irving Plaza, promoting the release of first album, "Chariot," were better than ever.
"It's a Framus guitar," he told me. "I saw it and I just had to have it."
"It's emerald green." His eyes lit up the way only a 25-year-old rock star's could.
"Chariot" debuted on Billboard's Heatseekers chart at No. 8, and is getting a "soft" push until Labor Day by J Records. Then the hard sell will start, which shouldn't be too hard. Degraw is about to follow in the footsteps of John Mayer and Duncan Sheik, among others.
"You can quote me. I'll bet you a thousand dollars he'll have multiple Grammy nominations," said veteran manager Johnny Podell before Wednesday night's show began.
He's probably right. Degraw is a cinch for Best New Artist. His single, "Follow Through," has the makings of a bona fide hit. If you've ever been a Billy Joel or early Elton John fan, Degraw is for you. His brother, who is also a singer-songwriter and voice-over artist for commercials, says the reason Gavin started writing his own material was his family was sick of hearing Billy and Elton's songs all the time.
"We said, why don't you write your own stuff?" he said with a laugh.
This weekend Degraw films his video, which has a "storyline" about a romance. The actress who's been selected is said to be in the Penelope Cruz mode, which ain't bad.
So my only problem with Gavin Degraw is that keeps wearing hats on stage. In winter, it's a wool cap. This week, it was a baseball cap-type chapeau. I don't like it, and neither does Johnny Podell. I mean, why?
The guy has a full head of hair! Off with the cap and on with the show, I say.
Many congrats to James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul," and often known as the "Hardest Working Man in Show Business." He will get a Kennedy Center honor this fall. It's much deserved and about time, I suppose, although the whole process is pretty funny.
Each year since 1978, when the awards began, one person of color has been allowed to receive this thing. (The exceptions were in 1991, when the tap dancing Nicholas brothers came in together, and in 1995 when B.B. King and Sidney Poitier somehow snuck in simultaneously. Wouldn't be weird one year if it were one white guy and the rest African Americans?)
Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Chuck Berry, Lena Horne and Ray Charles are already in, thank goodness. Mr. Brown, as he prefers to be called, had better wear the best cape in his collection...
The great singer, Mary Wilson, is managing to fit in a few performances this summer around her charity schedule. Among other things, she is now a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. But you can catch her in Napa, Calif. on August 6, New Orleans on August 8, Akron, Ohio on August 9, Springfield, Ill. on August 14, and in Maricopa, Ariz. at Harrah's on August 15 and 16. Don't miss her!
Last, "The Magdalene Sisters" is playing in just six theatres around the country, but this extraordinary film seems likely to have a long theatrical life this summer and early fall.
Peter Mullan's haunting drama about the torture of "bad" girls by nuns in Ireland during the 1960s never fails to astound everyone who sees it. It's a true story, and what's really incredible is that this abuse did not end until just seven years ago. Like "Le Divorce," "Seabiscuit," "Swimming Pool," and "Dirty Pretty Things," this is one of the antidotes to the dreary summer cinema blues.