You know Laura Linney. She was the Oscar-nominated star of "You Can Count on Me" a couple of years ago. She just played Kelsey Grammer's love interest in the last few episodes of "Frasier." She's also well known for her appearances in the cable mini-series "Tales of the City" and from "The Crucible" on Broadway with Liam Neeson.
Last night Linney opened in a short run on Broadway at the Manhattan Theater Club's production of "Sight Unseen." Her co-stars in the Donald Margulies dramedy are Ben Shenkman and Byron Jennings, but the production is really all about Linney, who can be counted on and can do no wrong.
Even when "Sight Unseen" seems a little slight or muddled, there's Linney to pull it out of the mud and set it straight again. If you're coming to New York in the next few weeks, this is a must-see production.
This fall, by the way, Linney will have two more cracks at the Oscar-nomination sweepstakes: she co-stars with Neeson in Bill Condon's movie about sexpert doctors, "Kinsey," and headlines "P.S.," the new film by Dylan Kidd ("Roger Dodger") also starring Gabriel Byrne, Paul Rudd and Marcia Gay Harden.
Keep your eye out for "Kinsey," which could turn out to be big stuff. Condon wrote "Gods and Monsters" and the screenplay for "Chicago."
At the opening last night: Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, Ben Chaplin, Campbell Scott and director Doug Liman, whose Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie film "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" this column wrote about last week at some length. You can imagine how much fun we had meeting face to face!
But Liman was a sport, and he said things went much better on the film than we reported, and even referred to Jolie as "Angie." The film has wrapped, he said, and will resume for some pick-up shots in August.
"Brad has to go do 'Ocean's 12,'" said Liman, whose late father was Arthur Liman, the brilliant attorney who quarterbacked the Iran-Contra hearings in 1986. "This happened to me on my last movie, 'The Bourne Identity,' too, because Matt Damon had to go do 'Ocean's 11.'"
Speaking of "Ocean's 12," I did see an item in one of the supermarket tabloids that said Warner Bros. was getting testy about all the partying the cast was doing overseas, racking up big bills at dinner and enjoying themselves too much. This jibed with a report I got out of — of all places — Monaco last week where one of my jet-setting spies came across Pitt having a wild time.
As for Liman, he's begun the editing process on the "Smith" movie, and in the end, he may have a hit on his hands after all. He's under a lot of pressure to bring in an expensive blockbuster. My guess is, he'll do it.
Rosie O'Donnell is starting a new magazine.
I can tell you exclusively that O'Donnell is working on a prototype for a magazine that will target gay families.
Tentatively titled R Family, the new magazine will be subscriber based and distributed by LPI Liberation Publications Inc., the same company that publishes gay publications such as The Advocate, Out and Out Traveler.
O'Donnell is already author of a monthly column in The Advocate called R Family.
Getting into a new magazine might seem like a bad idea for O'Donnell, considering her catastrophic experience publishing Rosie with Gruner + Jahr. But O'Donnell will own R Family outright, with LPI doing the back office work and distribution.
She will not only have editorial control, but has already hired Doug Turshen, the creative director who worked on Rosie until he was fired by Gruner + Jahr, to work on the R Family prototype. In fact, in the end R Family should look and read a lot like ... Rosie.
You're probably thinking: gay magazine, no money, who cares? But O'Donnell is tapping into a hugely profitable market by targeting gay families and their children. ("Will & Grace" isn't a hit for nothing.)
She's already been running a travel/cruise business for gay families with her partner/wife Kelli Carpenter. I am told that the cruise bookings have been a huge success, although the theme has been changed from "Gay Cruise" to "Show Business" cruise.
Calls to LPI's Judy Weider were not returned.
It may seem like I'm focusing on Virgin Records lately, but they are having more trouble than anyone could have predicted. The Janet Jackson and Courtney Love albums, written about extensively here, are big flops. Then there was the trouble with Ricky Fante and plagiarism.
Now it's Lenny Kravitz. Kravitz's new album, "Baptism," has failed to scare up an audience out of the box. It sold 47,600 copies in its debut week, according to hitsdailydouble.com.
Considering the costs of watering, feeding, and clothing Kravitz and friends, it might have been easier not to release the record. This cannot bode well for Matt Serletic and Josh Deutsch, who are running Virgin with an unsteady grasp of the tiller.
Luckily, things may not be completely bleak for Virgin. They have a possible hit single in Amanda Perez's "I Pray," with an album due in July. Perez doesn't always sing on key, but the song is catchy enough to light a fire, maybe.
Meanwhile, check out Kanye West's new single, "All Falls Down," featuring a real soul singer, Syleena Johnson, daughter of Hi Records' legendary performer Syl Johnson.