Martin Scorsese has directed Robert De Niro in a lot of movies — "Taxi Driver," "Mean Streets," "Raging Bull," "Goodfellas" — but their appearances together as actors only amounted to cameos by the director. Until now.
The pair is part of a large ensemble cast of voices in DreamWorks' animated "Shark Tale," which opens Friday, and they pretty much steal the movie.
That's no easy trick considering Will Smith, Renée Zellweger, Angelina Jolie and Jack Black (in a terrific performance) are in it, too.
But wait until you see De Niro as "Don Lino," the shark godfather, and Scorsese as a puffer fish named Sykes who has to carry out his orders. They are truly hysterical.
Backstage at the lavish, well-executed premiere that DreamWorks organized at Central Park's Delacorte Theatre, Scorsese looked very amused as children approached De Niro for autographs.
"Do you think they're 'Taxi Driver' fans?" I asked.
So we asked the kids what their favorite De Niro movie is.
"'Meet the Parents,'" they replied.
"They have no idea!" cackled Scorsese.
If these kids only knew Travis Bickle ... well, that's another story.
De Niro came to the premiere with wife Grace Hightower, but they left their six-year-old son Elliott at home to do homework.
"He'll see it later," Grace said.
De Niro is prepping his next directorial project, "The Good Shepherd," starring Leonardo DiCaprio. You may recall that Leo got his big break acting alongside De Niro in "This Boy's Life," so this is a nice coming-home for them.
Meanwhile, Scorsese told me that he's still a month away from finishing "The Aviator," his film about Howard Hughes that also stars Leo.
"We're still doing sound mixing," he said excitedly. "We won't finish that for a month!"
Harvey Weinstein will be chewing Mylanta tablets when he hears this, since "The Aviator" is a likely Oscar nominee. They will make the Dec. 17 release by a nose, but after "Gangs of New York" none of it can seem too risky.
As for Scorsese directing De Niro in a new film, they both said they're working on some ideas and it will happen.
I did ask the pair of old friends what happened to Joe Pesci. He made 18 films in nine years, but he hasn't been seen since 1998's "Lethal Weapon 4."
"He's playing golf," Scorsese said, "and enjoying his life, I hope."
Jerry Seinfeld is not a very public person, as we know, but on Monday night he brought his wife Jessica and their 3½-year-old daughter Sascha to the premiere of "Shark Tale."
And yes, indeed, when Sascha, a buttercup in a red dress, saw a tiny stage set up for photographers in the VIP section, she immediately started skipping merrily back and forth on it with the aplomb of a seasoned child star.
Another Seinfeld in show biz? I'd say, get ready.
I sort of feel bad, though, for Jerry Seinfeld. He and his wife are two of the nicest people you could come across, but they look a bit nervous at events.
When he walks through a crowd, a low whisper follows him that's similar to the reaction Woody Allen gets in public. "It's Seinfeld! It's Jerry!"
Jerry signs autographs for fans, but the fans always seem like they want something — they want him to be Jerry from the show.
"Do people come up and quote dialogue to you?" I asked him.
"Yeah," he said, giving another autograph.
At that point I quoted from the anti-Dentite episode, the one where Tim Whatley the dentist becomes Jewish for the jokes. So sue me.
No, Jerry has not seen Jason Alexander's sitcom "Listen Up" yet, he said. He's busy working on his own animated film for DreamWorks called "Bee Movie."
"We've just started recording the dialogue," he told me, "then we start the animation part. It's probably two years away."
No word yet on who will voice the other characters.
Jessica Seinfeld, meanwhile, continues to be busy with her charity, Baby Buggy. And Jerry's also written the introduction to a new humor book similar to "Letters from a Nut."
That book was written by the mysterious Ted L. Nancy, although the new book, "Stories from a Moron," is by Ed Broth. And a heady broth of humor it is. More on that in about a month.
More from the "Shark Tale" premiere: OK, don't ask Renée Zellweger about her hair.
The natural blonde is trying out jet-black locks. She looks great, but she's a little anxious about it.
"What's with the hair?" I asked her last night.
"What's with it?" she repeated, looking alarmed.
"It looks great," I replied.
"Too late!" she said.
Maybe it's because her boyfriend is Jack White of White Stripes fame, I don't know.
She did have a rather large protector with an empty head who kept her from taking any other compliments. (I had him at hello.)
Only Christina Aguilera had more posse power, although for what reason I do not know. Cat Stevens was nowhere in sight.
Renée was happier to see Jada Pinkett Smith, who came with husband Will and their young son Jaden, who sports a very large Afro that has the consistency of a dandelion.
"Thanks for the cookies," Renée said to Jada as the two posed for pictures.
Right at that moment Aguilera's entourage pushed through, nearly knocking Jada's lovely assistant to the ground.
One of the Aguilera group said, "Sorry," but we laughed when we realized it was to Christina — who dresses like Betty Boop as Marilyn Monroe — and not to Jada's assistant.
"That's all right," the assistant said. "I'm used to it." (Not from Jada, mind you, but other celebrities.)
I also spotted John McEnroe and Patty Smythe with some of their kids, legendary Lauren Bacall, DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg, Mary J. Blige, plus cast members Doug E. Doug and Ziggy Marley and Michael Imperioli and Vinnie Pastore of "The Sopranos." And Tom Cruise put in a surprise cameo appearance.
Since the McEnroes and the Seinfelds all live in the same building, it was pretty funny to see a whole celebrity nabe empty out into the Delacorte.
Seen on the way home, blissfully unaware of the premiere: the inimitable Paul Shaffer and actor/comedian Richard Belzer, after a post-Letterman dinner.
As for "Shark Tale": It is very funny, with amusing inside jokes for adults and incredible Pixar-type animation. The plot seems to be based, at least unofficially, on the great awful movie "Car Wash" from 1976.
I didn't realize that director Joel Schumacher wrote the screenplays for three post-blaxploitation movies of the mid-1970s, including "Sparkle" and "The Wiz."
He will be most interested in seeing "Shark Tale," which also features a pop rendition of the "Car Wash" theme song (originally by Rose Royce) by Aguilera and Missy Elliott, and other songs by a number of contemporary stars, including Mary J. Blige, Ludacris, India.Arie and Justin Timberlake.