Whether we like it or not, this is the summer of David Beckham and his wife, Victoria "Posh Spice."
After years of trying to become American celebrities, the Becks are being shoved down our collective throats. They’re not very smart and they’re not terribly talented at anything particularly important, but some find them attractive.
Mostly, they want to be rich and famous. For the moment, they’ve achieved just that.
On Sunday night, the Beckhams will receive the biggest part of their marketing push thus far. None other than Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are treating them to a gala at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, with 600 power players expected to attend. And just in case you wondered, no press is allowed.
The worst thing would be if anyone actually were able to get close enough to speak to this couple without a handler nearby. Hilarity no doubt would ensue.
What connects the British Beckhams to these Hollywood celebrities? Two proper organizations: Creative Artists Agency, aka CAA, represents everyone involved, and Rogers & Cowan does the publicity. It’s a tidy package, one-stop shopping.
CAA put the deal together for Beckham to come to the LA Galaxy soccer team. It also represents Cruise.
Somewhere along the line, CAA, trying to reshape Cruise’s image after his disastrous year of couch-jumping and fighting with Matt Lauer, “married” Cruise and Holmes to the Beckhams to make them the Ricardos and the Mertzes. They threw in the Smiths, and for good measure, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.
The latter couple will be front and center on Sunday night as, no doubt, will be several members of Cruise’s Church of Scientology: Jenna Elfman, Leah Remini, Kirstie Alley, Jason Lee, Giovanni Ribisi, etc.
These are the people who offered quotes about the Cruises and their baby, Suri, to all the tabloid and supermarket magazines. Remini, in particular, has risen in the PR ranks of Hollywood from C actress on a forgettable sitcom to permanent witness to all things baby Cruise.
Don’t be surprised to see John Travolta and Kelly Preston at the MoCA event, as well. Earlier this week, Holmes — who had been with Cruise prepping his Nazi movie — flew from Berlin to New York to help Travolta publicize “Hairspray.”
Now Tom is jetting in from his film set in Berlin to put on the dog for the Beckham event, though production has just began on “Valkyrie,” a movie no one wants to see.
If the Beckhams don’t succumb and join Scientology, it won’t be for lack of trying. As far back as Christmas 2004, London’s Daily Mirror reported — and it was confirmed — that Cruise sent the Beckhams the same Scientology “code of honor” he had sent this reporter, accompanied by the alarming news that a donation had been made to the church in their names.
Only six weeks earlier, in November 2004, UPI reported that Cruise had met and befriended Beckham. The actor called the soccer play his "hero.”
Of course, the Beckhams’ entire future isn’t pinned to Cruise or a religion. It’s all about soccer. If he doesn’t play like it’s the World Cup from Day One, he might as well forget it.
CAA touted him like the second coming of Pele as the answer to making professional soccer popular in the United States. But soccer has always been like the metric system to Americans. We respect it, but we’re not adopting it. It’s OK for kids, but adults have serious sports such as football, baseball and basketball.
The big question is: Who’s paying for this big party? It’s certainly not the Cruises or the Smiths. Rule No. 1 in Hollywood is that big stars open their wallets for nothing.
So that leaves a few candidates: CAA, Scientology, Anschutz Entertainment (owner of the Galaxy) or a combination. We may never get a straight answer on that. Each organization sees in the Beckhams bendable, pose-able action figures that could be used for so many different purposes.
And yet, all of these groups are forgetting something important. As a rule, Americans also do not favor British celebrities.
So far, only the Geico gecko has made a big splash. And he’s more animated than the Beckhams even on a slow day.
And now the irony: Beckham won’t even be playing in Saturday’s Galaxy game, thanks to a bad ankle. Walk the red carpet at million-dollar party? Sure. Run the green field? Nope. It should be an interesting season.
"The Sopranos" picked up so many Emmy nominations on Thursday, it would seem they’re on track to win some. Let’s hope so.
Four of the show’s deserving actors were nominated: James Gandolfini and Edie Falco for Best Lead Actor and Actress; and Lorraine Bracco and Aida Turturro for Best Supporting Actress.
I wrote in this space twice during this last season that scenes between Bracco, as Dr. Melfi, and Gandolfini, as Tony, in therapy sessions were absolutely mind-blowing. No offense to Turturro, who’s wonderful, and even Rachel Griffiths, who was nominated from ABC’s “Brothers & Sisters,” but Bracco has got to win for this work. She’s that good. I just hope whoever votes for these things realizes this.
Otherwise, the Emmys look similar to those of recent years. Much is being made of “Heroes” and “Ugly Betty” getting nominations, but it’s not such a shock. What’s more surprising to this writer are nominations for “Two and a Half Men,” a truly mediocre comedy on CBS. To say it’s in a league with “Entourage” or “The Office” is quite bizarre.
Thursday night’s Mods and Rockers Film Festival got off to a hot start when Donovan, the troubadour of the '60s, made a surprise acoustic unplugged performance. It was right before the 40th anniversary screening of D.A. Pennebaker’s “Monterey Pop.”
Donovan, it’s said, missed the original festival. So he came as a surprise to the audience at the Egyptian Theater, picked up his guitar and knocked out a stunning version of “Sunshine Superman.” The whole audience sang along and cheered.
After the screening and a very funny Q&A with Pennebaker, Donovan, the Animals’ Eric Burdon and Moby Grape blues guitarist Jerry Miller jammed with a phenomenal band of studio stars in the back room at the Pig 'n Whistle for about 75 people.
They did a fuller version of “Sunshine” and a hot extended jam on “Season of the Witch.” You didn’t have to be from the '60s to appreciate the musical genius of the moment. Extraordinary!
Indeed, I was a little surprised by how many young people turned out for “Monterey Pop,” the first of three nights of Pennebaker films. Tonight, “Don’t Look Back,” the classic Bob Dylan film, is being shown along with an hour of unseen footage. Tomorrow, “Only the Strong Survive,” a film yours truly was involved in, will be shown along with “Shake!: Otis at Monterey.”
Before last night’s show, festival organizer Martin Lewis presented a stellar panel of “Monterey” stars who talked about the seminal 1967 concert — producer Lou Adler, Mamas and Papas’ Michelle Phillips, Burdon and Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick. Grace is retired as a singer, which is a shame. Other than the shock of seeing her with white hair (this is what happens when you just don’t color it, folks), Grace looks younger than springtime and has quite a salty sense of humor!
Someone in the audience asked Phillips — who organized the festival with husband, John, and Adler — what her memory was of performing at Monterey.
“I came off stage and cried and cried because I thought we hadn’t done a good set. I couldn’t stop crying. That’s when I realized I was pregnant! The result was Chynna Phillips!” she said, referring to her daughter, the singer from Wilson Phillips and wife of Billy Baldwin. Talk about “conceiving” a new idea!