Here's the latest dope on the movie version of the Broadway musical "The Producers."
As previously reported in January by Variety's gregarious legend Army Archerd, and confirmed for me by Mel Brooks himself, Nicole Kidman is in fact going to play Swedish sexpot Ulla to Nathan Lane's Max and Matthew Broderick's Leo.
Roger Bart and Gary Beach will reprise their roles from the show, and Will Ferrell will step in to play Liebekind, the Nazi playwright and author of "Springtime for Hitler" busy raising birds on his roof.
So far, Brooks told me, no songs have been added to the script, but eventually it may happen since Kidman is too big a star to have just one solo number.
But Brooks told me yesterday that the movie script — which is being written now from the show — is running long and there has been talk — gasp! — of actually cutting some of the numbers.
"Between you and me," he said, "what about — ?" He mentioned a song, but I'm bound by secrecy not to reveal it.
"No, Mel," I said, "the audience wants to see the whole thing."
"I'll tell Stro that," he replied, referring to director/choreographer Susan Stroman.
Brooks, by the way, has become a full-time Broadway magnate, launching world tours, national tours, etc of The Producers.
He'd better wrap it up, soon. We're all still waiting for "Spaceballs 2." He promised.
A few minutes into the Lincoln Center Film Society's tribute to Michael Caine, I realized that the president of Iceland was giving a speech on stage.
"Do you have any idea why he's here?" I asked my seat companion. She did not.
Luckily, Caine explained in his witty closing remarks that the President, a nice looking white-haired man named Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, had once dated a friend of Caine's wife Shakira.
"We were sitting around on a hot day drinking cold drinks and I said I needed some ice," Caine recalled after joking that he didn't know why the President of Iceland was there either. "And Ólafur said, 'Not only am I the president of Iceland, but I have ice.' And he went and got some."
The Film Society showed a lot of clips from Caine's career, some of them extremely odd choices, including one from "Blood and Wine," a movie so bad no one's ever seen it on purpose.
There were a few other oddities in there, and the surprising absence of "Dressed to Kill," but the others — "Alfie," "Cider House Rules," "Hannah and Her Sisters," "The Italian Job," "Blame It on Rio" — all made sense.
Caine said he brought a core group of about 30 people with him just in case no one showed up for the event. (The English are brilliant at this self-deprecating humor.)
Ahmet and Mica Ertegun, Elaine Kaufman and Danny Zarem were among Caine's guests. Andrea Marcovicci, Benjamin Bratt, Ian Holm and Steve Martin were a few of the speakers who introduced clips and offered anecdotes about Sir Michael.
(Elaine told me: "Michael said he knew it was a good night because I stayed so long." Kaufman, who usually rushes back to her restaurant, stuck by the Caines from 6 to 11 p.m. — a record!)
Holm, who made the godawful "Blue Ice" with Caine, recalled: "We had never worked together before. Michael said while we were shooting, 'If this is good, we'll make another.' That obviously didn't happen."
Marcovicci, on whom I had a mad crush when I was 12 and who was a frequent guest star on shows like "Medical Center" and "Kojak," talked about making another flop called "The Hand." It was directed by Oliver Stone five years before "Salvador" put him on the map.
"It's a cult movie now, although we didn't intend for that when we were making it," she said. "It was all about a hand that ran around and grabbed you by the throat. You had to pull it away from your neck while holding it tight to you. There was no logic to it."
There was no logic to much else that night either, but it was fun, and the erudite Caine deserves all the salutes he can get. Bravo!
"Damita Jo," Janet Jackson's newest album, is now over and, mystifyingly, done. It fell this week after four weeks in release to No. 15 and sold about 46,000 copies.
That would bring the grand total to somewhere in the under 600,000 range. At Virgin Records, they're doing spit-takes when they see these numbers.
It's hard to say what impeded Janet's sales. Was it her Super Bowl malfunction? Was it transference from brother Michael's scandal? It kind of doesn't make sense.
Janet signed a recording contract with Virgin in 1996 for $80 million total, covering four albums of new material and one greatest-hits package. Against that $80 million she got a rockin' $35 million advance upfront and a guarantee of $5 million per album.
"Damita Jo" is the third studio album in the deal, which means that Virgin has already paid her a minimum of $50 million, not including royalties, if everyone has stuck to the agreement.
In the cases of "The Velvet Rope" and "All 4 U," Janet's deal of a 24 percent royalty on each record made her richer than she was before. But "Damita Jo's" poor performance at this point will have a deleterious effect on her bottom line.
"Prozac Nation" author Elizabeth Wurtzel tells me she's been accepted at Yale University Law School for the fall semester. A Harvard grad, Wurtzel has decided to make some real money rather than depend on writing. The never-released Miramax film of "Prozac Nation" is playing at the Bermuda Triangle cineplex....
Yesterday, in traffic going uptown, was a very dirty van belonging to the esteemed house of Petrossian, purveyors of the best caviar. Written in the filthy back window: "Wash this, Petrossian." Indeed, not the best advertising....
Atlantic Records' Ahmet Ertegun holding a table of 10 young people in his thrall at Elaine's Wednesday night. At other tables: Grammy producers Pierre and Mary Cossette with son John, now running their production company; and the New York Post's Linda Stasi facing another table with the New York Times style writer Bob Morris and writer producer Sarah Colleton. Then, right after his play "Twentieth Century" took its curtain call, Alec Baldwin arrived with a posse including his Asian girlfriend....
Tomorrow night: an elite book party for supermodel Janice Dickinson organized by publicist Norah Lawlor, who counts herself as Michael Jackson's last press rep before his scandal broke. Lawlor shepherded Jackson through his performance at the Apollo Theatre for the Democratic National Committee in 2002....
Don't miss the South African Film Festival here in New York through May 2....