We all loved Neve Campbell as a teenager fighting to maintain moral values in TV's "Party of Five." She's made a few films since then, but nothing like the one I saw the other night at a private screening.
In James Toback's new and very hot feature, "When Will I Be Loved?," Neve goes where she's nev-er gone before. In the space of less than 90 minutes, she has a lesbian sex scene followed by a heterosexual one in which both parties — she and actor Fred Weller — each have pretty risque, unconventional sex scenes.
Neve's character also gets it on with Uncle Junior Soprano, Dominic Chianese, who plays a classy billionaire who offers a substantial amount of money for a moment of ecstasy.
"When Will I Be Loved" also features cameo appearances by Mike Tyson and rap entrepreneur Damon Dash.
Toback — writer of the screenplay for Barry Levinson's hit "Bugsy," and director of films like "Two Girls and a Guy" and "Black and White" — has constructed a tense, well-made concise thriller in "When Will I Be Loved?" that reminded me of John Dahl's "The Last Seduction" but is entirely original.
Campbell, last seen in Robert Altman's "The Company," is intensely good as a cold-blooded femme fatale who doesn't mind showing off her body. "Party of Five" fans will be a little surprised to see more of Campbell than ever before.
At this first screening, held at Sweetland Productions the other night, Toback was a no-show. But I did meet young Nick Jarecki, brother of "Capturing the Friedmans" director Andrew. Jarecki the younger is finishing up a documentary about Toback that should prove to be at least as entertaining if not more so than "The Kid Stays in the Picture" about Robert Evans. Toback is one of those great modern Hollywood legends, like Terence Malick or Harry Gittes, and deserves some attention as a maverick. The doc is due in October around the time IFC Films releases "Loved."
Longtime Democrat Paul Simon — the singer, not the late senator — is pitching in for John Kerry. No, he's not slated to perform at either the Bette Midler and friends show at Radio City or the Barbra Streisand event in Los Angeles. Simon and wife Edie Brickell are going one better. They're having strangers to their house.
Simon and Brickell, who are not very public people, have agreed to give a Kerry fund-raiser at their beautiful country home near Greenwich, Conn., one week from today. The minimum contribution asked for on the invite is $2,000, but the real money that the Simon party is supposed to raise is way beyond that. (That makes three homes for Simon in the area, counting Manhattan and Montauk, Long Island. Proceeds from a lucrative European tour this summer with Art Garfunkel could certainly generate more of 'em!)
Potential guests are reminded that individuals may contribute $27,000 each to Kerry 2004. How does this work? Well, that first two grand goes right to the Kerry for President Committee. But the $25,000 "extra" goes to the DNC Services Corporation/Democratic National Committee, which is a soft money contribution.
No word yet on whether Simon or Brickell will perform or whether there will be an appearance by Garfunkel. But it's a good bet that Simon pals Chevy Chase and Lorne Michaels will be there, and that other locals like Glenn Close, Ron Howard, David Letterman, Charles Grodin and Regis Philbin are on the invite list.
It isn't uncommon for peripatetic New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner to dine at Elaine's on Second Avenue. When the team's playing a home stand, you can bet The Boss will stop in for an early supper.
And there are perks for Elaine Kaufman: She often sits in the owner's box at Yankee Stadium, sometimes with the mayor or with a celebrity like Regis Philbin. Over the years, too, Kaufman has received a few gifts from Steinbrenner like diamond earrings with the Yankees logo.
But last night even Kaufman was floored when, during dinner, The Boss presented her with the ultimate gift: one of the diamond and gold rings players receive for winning the ALCS, or as we used to call 'em, the American League playoffs. Steinbrenner, noting that a players ring would be too cumbersome for a lady, had the actual ring part removed and had the square face — encrusted with diamonds — placed on a gold chain even Puff Daddy would appreciate. To really cinch the deal, he had Kaufman's name engraved into the back of the face. The whole thing came in a special mahogany display box.
"Look at this," Elaine said, summoning me to a back table, "I haven't shown anyone." She looked a little shocked. Soon a crowd gathered, and the ring was throwing stars of light around the room. Al Pacino, who called in to get his own back table, never showed up so he missed all the fun.
She held the white cardboard box that protected the mahogany case. On the back of it there was a small printed tag from Balfour, the company that makes the rings for Major League Baseball. (Yep, it's the same Balfour that lost 800 high school class rings we ordered back in 1975, but that's another story.)
Kaufman's name, she pointed out, was printed on the tag as ordered. "So you know it's not like he just had a ring and gave it to me," she said.
Contrary to reports this week — all stemming from the Michael Moore controversy — Miramax is not seeking to leave Disney, my sources tell me. That is not under the reported conditions with Comcast or some other white knight financing an exit from their Disney deal. Of course, Disney without either Miramax or Pixar in the fold is bad enough, but without both? Yikes!
Meanwhile, Disney has found a new synergistic way to promote its own bad movies. They've actually made Kate Hudson promote the ABC soap lineup next week to find an audience for "Raising Helen," a movie more predictable than any of the actual soaps...Diana Krall finally has the hit album she deserves. Her "The Other Girl in the Room," with many songs co-written by new hubby Elvis Costello, is in the top three for the second week in a row and selling like hotcakes. Krall's success is part of a trend at the moment for actual recording artists on the Billboard/Soundscan album chart including Patti LaBelle, Alicia Keys, Prince, Carly Simon, Eric Clapton, Norah Jones (both of her albums), and even Loretta Lynn! Coming on June 15: the first new Stevie Wonder album in nine years!