Published November 16, 2007
Jerry Maguire (aka Tom Cruise) in Hitler Murder Attempt | James Bond's Next Villain Revealed | Julian Schnabel: Curtain for Diners | Leona Lewis Gets Ready for the Diva Train | How Oprah Can Lose Weight; Betting On Fink | Le Cirque Goes to the Dogs
Jerry Maguire tried to kill Adolf Hitler? Or was it Joel from "Risky Business"?
The first trailer is out from the Tom Cruise movie “Valkyrie” and it’s a doozy. This misguided attempt by Cruise to win fans for Scientology in Germany by playing a local hero has got to be the single worst idea in modern movie history.
As I’ve said before, the tag line should be: “You had me at Achtung.”
Even though this is not “Springtime for Hitler,” the trailer is so awful and so indicative of what’s to come, you can only imagine Mel Brooks popping up in it.
Cruise wears an eye patch and a Nazi uniform, but speaks with the same flat, unaffected American accent that places him somewhere between Redondo Beach and Johnny Rockets. It’s absolutely hysterical to hear and see a boyish Nazi with blazing white perfect teeth and that voice announce, “We must kill Hitler.”
The accent is only part of the problem, but it’s a big part. Cruise apparently didn’t even try for a German sound to play Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg. It’s as if Meryl Streep wandered into “Sophie’s Choice” sounding like a Valley Girl.
If this was the way he thought he’d get to the hearts and minds of Germans, maybe he should get some new marketing advice. When the fans in that country see this, even Brunhilde won’t be able to help him!
Daniel Craig had better look out. I’m told that Mathieu Amalric, the probable Oscar nominee from Miramax’s “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” is James Bond’s next villain. That was the word Thursday at a lunch for “Diving Bell" director Julian Schnabel and Amalric.
Even though sources insist it’s true, Amalric would neither confirm nor deny. Since his “Diving Bell” character communicates through blinking, we thought of asking him to do just that — one for yes, two for no — but thought better of it. Anyway, expect a formal announcement shortly. This is a done deal.
For the untitled Bond movie’s director Marc Forster, Amalric is a brilliant choice. He’s a youthful looking 42-year-old overnight sensation, an independent French film director who only started seriously acting in films at age 30 and has suddenly been thrust into a hot career.
So what does he want to do? “I want to direct my next film,” he told me over lunch at Brasserie Ruhlmann in Rockefeller Center in New York City.
Of course, it was hard to finish a conversation with Mathieu (pronounced Matthew) because women, one after another, wanted to come over and “just say hello.” Then, you know, they don’t leave.
“It’s like a dream,” Almaric said to me between visitations.
So who is this guy? Mathieu Amalric’s got a very French father who lives in Corsica with his second wife, and a Polish-Jewish-French mother in Paris.
He looks a little bit like a young Roman Polanski, which makes sense because the mother comes from the same village as "The Pianist" director.
And even more ties: Polanski’s beautiful wife, Emanuelle Seigner, plays Amalric’s ex in “Diving Bell.” (The film also features the sensational Marie-Josee Croze.)
He got the part of French Elle magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby thanks to producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, who produced Steven Spielberg’s “Munich.” If you remember, Amalric was the breakout actor from that movie. He played the rich, young French arms dealer who worked with his father (Michael Lonsdale) from their chateau. When Schnabel was looking for an actor to play the part of Bauby, who was rendered paralyzed from a stroke but still managed to write a book, Kennedy and Marshall suggested Amalric.
Let me say this: if Mathieu Amalric isn’t nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, then something is really wrong. His performance is nothing less that stunning, a miracle. He belongs in a group with John Cusack (“Grace Is Gone”), Johnny Depp (“Sweeney Todd”), Philip Seymour Hoffman (“The Savages”) and Daniel Day-Lewis (“There Will Be Blood”). As Bauby he manages to take what could have been maudlin and makes it full of life.
Don’t worry that he’s French. This is no Roberto Benigni. Even though “Diving Bell” is told mostly in French, the actor’s English is just fine. He lived in Washington, D.C., from ages 5-8 because his father was a journalist on assignment. Mathieu is already in demand from the TV talk shows for interviews. And all this is a little strange for him.
“The Oscars are a big deal?” he asked at lunch. “It will help the film?”
He is not kidding.
“Diving Bell and the Butterfly” is not a depressing movie, by the way. It’s life affirming, and gorgeously crafted by director and famed artist Julian Schnabel.
Ronald Harwood, who won the Oscar for “The Pianist” and also wrote “Being Julia” and “The Dresser,” did the screenplay. They all deserve nominations. And if they don’t get them, well, then, when Amalric is schooled in James Bond he can threaten to blow up the Academy!
PS: There’s talk that Leona Lewis will sing the Bond theme song. See below…
Even the lunch itself Thursday must have seemed like a dream to Mathieu Amalric. With famed actors like Ben Gazzarra and Tony Musante in the room, Hart Bochner visiting from Hollywood, and the estimable Bob Balaban at his table, Amalric was in real Academy company.
But the best moment of the lunch was when Julian Schnabel — ferocious looking like the Cowardly Lion after getting courage from the Wizard — stood to make a welcoming speech to the 100 or so guests partitioned from the Ruhlmann dining room.
The noise level from the other side was so decibel-shaking that Schnabel, fearless, opened the diving drape and bellowed, "Hello, everyone. Can we have some quiet in here?" The stunned diners literally came to a screeching halt. You literally could have heard a pin drop.
After a beat, one man yelled out, "WIll you pay for our lunch?" Clear that Schnabel would not go that far, the cacophony resumed, and Schnabel finished his speech over the din.
Maybe you remember: last winter, Clive Davis, Peter Edge et al from J Records assembled all the best songwriters and had them listen to Leona Lewis, the hot singer who won Britain's X Factor show last year.
They then submitted material, and Davis — working with Simon Cowell — oversaw Lewis’ CD.
Now that CD has been released in the U.K., and it’s a freakin’ smash hit. By the end of the weekend, “Spirit” will have sold over 400,000 CDs in Britain. It’s a small country, so that means nearly everyone has a copy! And that is a record for a release from a new artist.
The single from “Spirit,” called “Bleeding Love,” has already sold 500,000 copies in England. (I guess some Scots bought it, too.) Industry observers are already saying the Lewis — a stunning-looking young woman with a very sexy video — will be bigger than Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston.
It doesn't hurt that she can sing for real. No kidding — she's a powerhouse.
So if you're wondering: “Spirit” will be released in America next March by Davis, who has already signed Leona to a five-album contract. We may get to see her “live” at Davis’ famous pre-Grammy dinner in February. For now, you can see her video for "Bleeding Love" at http://www.leonalewismusic.co.uk.
How does Clive do this? It remains a mystery to us in the outside world (although I suspect Peter Edge has an idea).
Anyway, Alicia Keys’ “As I Am” will debut at No. 1 on Monday with around 600,000 copies sold. That’s more than twice as much as Britney whatshername did in her first week. And more than twice as much as Celine Dion’s “Taking Chances,” also released last Tuesday.
Speaking of Celine, it’s not we don’t like her. We do! Download a song called “Just Fade Away” from that new album. It’s the best thing on it.
By the way, Clive and crew are not letting the pre-holiday season lull them to sleep. They’re planning a big launch on Dec. 4 for “American Idol” Blake Lewis (no relation to Leona)
For contrast, over at Warner Music Group, there are no new releases scheduled for the rest of the year. Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Lyor Cohen don’t believe in ‘em. Their Christmas present to financier Thomas Lee may be a below $7 stock price. Ho ho ho.
Wolfgang Puck’s favorite cookbook collaborator, Martha Rose Shulman, has just published her latest food tome, called “Mediterranean Harvest” (Rodale Press).
Martha, always in demand by chefs for help on their books, has authored about 20 of her own including the famous “Vegetarian Feast” and “Provencal Light.” If Oprah wants to lose weight again, this is whom she should call, that’s all I’m sayin’. Check her out her delicious recipes on Amazon.com or at www.martha-rose-shulman.com. ...
There are no new shows for Letterman, Leno or Conan, but there is the weekly “Heads Up Handicapping” every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on Channel 71 in Manhattan.
Last Saturday, for those of you who missed it, I appeared on this lively broadcast about horse racing which is hosted by my old pal, Mitchell Fink. This free-wheeling, entertaining program features a couple of guests who pick horses in five of the nine races at Aqueduct.
When the horse racing season is over, the smartest bettor gets his “winnings” donated to a favorite charity. I chose the Grammy Foundation and MusiCares, and so far, I am told, I’m in the lead by a nose. We’ll have to watch Saturday and see if the next contestants do better…
You may recall an item published here at the end of August, which I filed from Botswana in southern Africa. It concerned a litter of rare wild dogs on the Kwando River. Microsoft’s Paul Allen failed to photograph them even after hiring six helicopters and attaching a $2 million camera to one of them. This reporter, however, got the pics.
Last week at Le Cirque, there was an update on the litter, thanks to conservationists Dr. J. Weldon “Tico” McNutt and Lesley Boggs. (I know, Dr. McNutt makes him sound like Professor Irwin Corey. But he’s a young tall guy with blond hair, right out of Central Casting.)
The couple and their kids live in Botswana, but flew into New York for a reception honoring them thrown by Wild Entrust International.
Some of the guests among the conservation-minded included Chris Johns, editor in chief of National Geographic; Court TV correspondent Ashleigh Banfield; socialite Ann Rapp; downtown dynamo and founder of Wall Street Rising Julie Menin (who’s also a mover and shaker on Community Board #1 in Tribeca); marketing whiz Neal Sroka; as well as prominent wildlife photographer George Steinmetz and Rick Smolen, creator of the “Day in the Life” series.
And what news is there of our cute puppies? They’re still alive, reports Dr. McNutt, although another litter born around the same time, he was sad to say, has been eaten by lions.
Nevertheless, their important work goes on, and you can read about it at www.africadogs.com.