"Munich" director Steven Spielberg will take a year off from moviemaking, he told me last night at the Academy Governor’s Ball.
He deserves it: between November 2004 and October 2005 he produced and directed both "War of the Worlds" and "Munich."
(Hello! What did any of us do in that time period?)
Spielberg and his sensational knockout actress wife Kate Capshaw very happily attended the Governor’s Ball and the top top top A-list Vanity Fair party at Morton’s afterward, even though "Munich" — my personal choice for Best Picture this year — received nothing.
During my long talk with the most successful and honored film director in motion picture history, Spielberg told me a couple of things. For one, he expects that it will take two years before "Munich" makes its money back. It’s among his lowest grossing films, including "Amistad," "1941" and "Always."
“But it doesn’t matter,” he said. “I didn’t make it for the money.” He’s very happy with the finished product, also.
Right now, he does not have a project on the front burner, a big change for a man who does sometimes make two feature films in a year.
His main work in 2006 will be preparing his Abraham Lincoln film with award-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin, and acting as a producer, not director, on several other smaller projects.
I asked him about "Indiana Jones 4." What’s up?
I said: “George Lucas told me recently that there’s a script and he’s happy with the story.”
Spielberg: “George Lucas isn’t the director. I am.”
You may recall that in this space on Dec. 6, 2005, I wrote that Lucas said he had a script by Jeff Nathanson, who wrote Spielberg’s "Catch Me If You Can" and "The Terminal," as well as Bret Ratner’s "Rush Hour" movies. But even Nathanson seems to have been succeeded in the Indy sweepstakes.
“I have David Koepp on it now, and he’s my ‘closer,'” Spielberg said, using a baseball reference to the pitcher who comes in during the 9th inning and finishes up a winning ball game (New Yorkers automatically think: Mariano Rivera, Goose Gossage, Sparky Lyle, Dave Righetti).
“He wrote 'Spider-Man' and 'War of the Worlds,'” Spielberg said, “so he’ll get it done.”
Koepp ("Mission: Impossible," "Carlito’s Way," "Jurassic Park") also wrote “Zathura,” a current total bust that looks like it will lose millions for Sony, but hey, no one’s perfect.
I think the only person I didn’t see last night at Vanity Fair’s annual extravaganza at Morton’s was editor in chief Graydon Carter.
But no matter: with a condensed guest list and a smaller tent, Vanity Fair’s mandate was to throw a more exclusive party than in recent years. And they succeeded.
But “smaller” did not mean less of a power punch. I felt that same “zoom” as I walked into the room, maybe more so when I realized Madonna and Guy Ritchie were gallivanting around, chatting with Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.
Along one side bench, sitting in a row and taking a breather from the action, I saw Lauren Bacall, Anna Deveare Smith, Russell and Kimora Lee Simmons. Not bad.
I got pulled away by the hot, young sexy Joy Bryant, who wanted me to help her find Cuba Gooding Jr. I did — he was talking to mogul Harvey Weinstein and the King of TV, “CSI” creator Jerry Bruckheimer.
And that was just a tip of the iceberg: Suzanne Somers, Kyle MacLachlan, Alessandra Nivola and Emily Mortimer, Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Oscar host Jon Stewart, Seal and Heidi Klum and Troy Garity — the hot young actor son of Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden who’s in the new Danny Boyle movie — were just a few of the stars I chatted with.
Funny moment: thinking I was waiting in line for the men’s room behind my pals record producer Richard Perry and famed musician Robbie Robertson. I made small talk but saw other males passing us and entering the toilette. Then, out of the ladies' room comes the babe-a-licious Hilary Swank.
“Can you introduce us?” the two guys ask in unison, dewy eyed.
“That’s why you were waiting here?” Oy vey!
Back to the action: Mira Sorvino, pregnant for a second time, with the young husband, made small talk herself with former boyfriend, Quentin Tarantino. The "Kill Bill" director seemed to have a darker, fuller head of hair than I remembered. I overheard him say to a young actress, “You should come in and read the part.”
Oscar nominee Amy Adams came over and kept me company on one of the comfy modular leather sofas while I ate my In and Out Burger, with grilled onions, a must at the Vanity Fair party.
Amy is my overall pick for favorite awards season nominee. She’s beautiful, with that red hair and bright blue eyes. She’s also sensible enough to know that “Junebug” was just the beginning; winning the Oscar on her first time out was not important. What’s her story? She’s from a Denver suburb, and escaped at an early age.
“I had two close friends in high school, and one of them has already directed a film,” she told me. They were the go-getters, and they got out. Good for them.
I saw Jackie Collins, actor Stephen Dorff, Adrien Brody (no Chihuahua, just a nice looking date), Anne Heche — who with no surgery or other device has blossomed into a tremendous beauty at age 36 — with husband Coley Laffoon, “Interview” magazine editor Ingrid Sischy, famed artist Francesco Clemente, novelist Salman Rushdie, Catherine Keener (laughing, having a grand time with friend director Spike Jonze and "Capote" director Bennett Miller and writer Dan Futterman), Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Munich" star Eric Bana, Uma Thurman, “Crash” singer Bird Yorke, Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz and the "Brokeback" crowd: Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jake’s sister Maggie and boyfriend Peter Saarsgard.
Who’d been to the Vanity Fair dinner while we were at the Oscar telecast? Mick Jagger with his very tall girlfriend, L’Wren Scott (she used to be a stylist — good work, L’Wren!)
And our spies reported that Nicole Kidman, whom we’d talked to on the red carpet and seen at the show, ducked out of the Oscars as soon as her segment was over, breezed through the dinner crowd at Morton's and ate in a private area. She was never seen again.
My inside info is that Nicole will probably marry country star Keith Urban in the next few weeks if not sooner.
Nashville, get ready!
Saturday, after the Independent Spirit Awards: Not missing a beat, Bob and Harvey Weinstein threw their annual pre-Oscar party.
Miramax is gone (the new company picked up an award for foreign film last night with “Tsotsi” taking a page from the Weinstein play book). But the Weinsteins had four Oscar noms after four months in business.
Dolly Parton — who is really a phenomenally gifted musician and very funny — performed her "Transamerica" song, “Travelin’ Thru” for a crowd that included George Clooney, George Lucas (with two of his kids), William H. Macy, Sir Ben Kingsley, Sienna Miller (the new “first girl of the Weinstein Company” thanks to her forthcoming hit, "Factory Girl"), Cheryl Tiegs, the great great great Fionnula Flanagan, Helena Christensen, Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson, Michael Madsen, Rob Morrow, Michael Vartan, Anna Farris, "Transamerica" director Duncan Tucker and co-star Kevin Zegers, Jessica Alba, Wolfgang Puck and — drum roll, please — the esteemed Ron Burkle, grocery chain magnate and survivor of the Michael Jackson saga.
Dolly was a peach, making jokes about her boobs and those in the White House. She told the audience that she thought writing a song for a movie would be easy but it wasn’t.
“Harvey Weinstein made me work my country butt off!” she declared. She also said: “Harvey wanted me to sing a couple more songs, but I told him, I usually get paid for this!”
The other highlight of what people called the most fun Weinstein party in a couple of seasons: a skit performed by nominees Judi Dench and Felicity Huffman, called “Top Ten Things You’ll Never Hear the Weinsteins Say.” Here’s the script I pocketed after the two ladies wowed the crowd:
#10 - “Harvey, do you have the tickets for tomorrow or do I? Ah forget it, let's just TiVo it.”
#9 - Let's leave New York and finally make the move to Los Angeles”
#8 - What do you think about instituting a 4-day work week?”
#7 –“ Of course you would have final cut. We wouldn’t touch your movie.”
#6 – “Let's get the airport early. I really want to get an exit row on the red-eye home.”
#5 - If we win we're going to Disneyland.”
#4 – Don’t say this too loudly because Page Six is here, but I secretly love being a boldface name.”
#3 - You've done enough for this film. You don't need to do any more publicity. Take a vacation on us. Really, no more press, go to Canyon Ranch, we'll take care of it.”
#2 – “I had so much fun watching “Transamerica” with the president last week at Camp David.”
#1 – “I don't care if we win an Oscar. It really is just an honor to be nominated.¨