Published May 09, 2007
Before I tell you what George Lucas said at the all-star Time magazine dinner for the 100 most influential people, let's cut to the chase: Cate Blanchett arrived and looked gorgeous. She looked completely unlike the picture that ran everywhere Tuesday that depicted her as an anorexic skeleton.
Lighting is everything, so are makeup, clothes and the angle from which a picture is taken. I was relieved to see that Blanchett was just as she was when we saw her at the Academy Awards.
Of course, I didn't get to speak to the Oscar-winner because she literally flitted in and out of the Time cocktail reception. Her excuse? She and husband Andrew Upton were off to see Vanessa Redgrave in "The Year of Magical Thinking" on Broadway.
"She's coming back, don't worry," said a Time exec. "She'll join us for dessert."
And I have land to sell you in Baghdad, friends.
The actress and her playwright husband did not return to the Time Warner Center. It's too bad, because they missed meeting the most interesting people gathered in a room in some time — much more stimulating than the loss-leading Costume Institute Ball the previous night at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Gathered at Jazz at Lincoln Center for this spectacular annual event were: "Star Wars" director Lucas with his lady-friend Melody Hobson; presidential hopeful John Edwards with his wife Elizabeth; Queen Raina of Jordan, "Ugly Betty" star America Ferrera — she's a knockout in real life; New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Diana Taylor; Henry and Nancy Kissinger; movie producer Brian Grazer; Harold Evans; Harvey Weinstein and Georgina Chapman; financier Stephen Schwarzman; Richard Branson; Arianna Huffington; Brian Williams; Matt Lauer; Mort Zuckerman; HarperCollins publisher Jane Friedman; Nan and Gay Talese; Charlie Rose; Craig "Craigslist" Newmark; baseball guru Bill James; Oprah Winfrey pal and broadcaster Gayle King; Andy and Betsy Lack; MSNBC's Dan Abrams; Men's Health editor Dave Zinczenko; Michael J. Fox; Tracy Pollan; Chris Matthews and singer Suzanne Vega, who wrote a piece in the Time 100 issue about "Second Life" creator Philip Rosedale.
I still have no idea what "Second Life" is, even though Suzanne explained it for me. The most important thing is, she is releasing a new album in June — her first in six years. Suzanne Vega can do no wrong.
And there were musical performances by the earnest John Mayer and the ebullient Youssou N'Dour.
Missing although they were named to the 100: Rosie O'Donnell, Winfrey, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Hillary Clinton, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio.
There were, however, some beautiful speeches, including one by Neil deGrasse Tyson — considered the Carl Sagan of the 21st century — about how Sagan befriended him when he was just 17 years old.
"I treat all my students the same way," Tyson said.
Richard Branson toasted Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, even recalling a joke Tutu once told him about henpecked husbands.
But of course, we were most interested in talking with George Lucas, the affable genius film director who occasionally graces us in New York with an appearance. Lucas is absolutely one of my favorite people, a lovely guy who seems unaffected by his enormous success.
Lucas is currently preparing "Indiana Jones 4" with Harrison Ford, Blanchett and Shia LaBoeuf. The latter plays Ford's son, which means his mother was possibly the character Karen Allen played in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
"I can't say," Lucas said when I brought up Allen.
Lucas says that Sean Connery still hasn't signed on, but his character, Indy's dad, is in the script. Other than that, his lips are sealed.
"Steven thinks we can keep the whole thing a secret," Lucas told me. "I explained to him that it's impossible nowadays. We can't live like that."
So then, tell me more about "Indy 4," I suggested.
"Oh no," replied Lucas with a smile.
Lucas told me he has seen all the summer movies since his company, Industrial Light and Magic, does most of the special effects. The only one they didn't work on was "Spider-Man 3." What did he think of it?
"It's silly. It's a silly movie," he said. "There just isn't much there. Once you take it all apart, there's not much story, is there?"
Well, it's not "Star Wars."
"People thought 'Star Wars' was silly, too," he added, with a wink. "But it wasn't."
Lucas, by the way, says he is readying "Clone Wars," an animated series for TV that's derived from "Star Wars." Many "Star Wars" characters appear in "Clone Wars," but voiced by other actors.
And here's a little news: Lucas tells me he will make two more live-action films based in the "Star Wars" era.
"But they won't have members of the Skywalker family as characters," he said. "They will be other people of that milieu."
The two extra films will also be made for TV and probably be an hour long each. But, like "Clone Wars," Lucas doesn't know where on TV they will land.
Hello, HBO and Showtime. It may be time to pony up.
New York City singer-songwriter Susan Cagle has found the smartest way to get on "Oprah": write the host a song.
Tomorrow, I'm told Cagle will appear on Winfrey's show singing "Dear Oprah." Among the lyrics: "Dear Oprah, Have you ever felt like breakin down/ when there ain't no one who cares around/did ever you feel this way back in the day so blue/ what did you do?"
The song is a little close to Des'ree's "You Gotta Be," but it has a lot of heart, and marketing savvy. Cagle records for Sony Music, but was discovered busking in the subway. ...
Rush is back. The big hair, fake falsetto heavy metal group that made the 1980s so irrelevant musically sold 84,000 copies for Atlantic Records last week with a new album called "Snakes & Arrows." Never underestimate the low standards of the buying public, I guess. Journey, Poison, shoulder pads and perms shouldn't be too far behind at this rate.