Before the writer’s strike, Chevy Chase’s return to "Saturday Night Live" segment "Weekend Update" was supposed to be a recurring role.
"I met with Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers and they hired me," Chase told me on Tuesday. "I told them I’d love to come in and do occasional pieces about politics. They’re paying me scale, which is more than I was making when I did the show originally," he laughed.
Chase says his first appearance got mucked up by two things.
"The writing wasn’t so good," he said. Also, he was thrown by the audience giving him a standing ovation. "I didn’t want to overshadow the new kids," he says. "I was shocked."
Chase has a lot of irons in the fire besides "SNL," including a two-episode guest shot on "Brothers and Sisters" playing Sally Field’s first love.
"I’m out after that," he said. "My character’s a Democrat and they’re all Republicans. He can’t take it."
Thursday night, Chase hosts the 10th annual Collaborating for a Cure Benefit at the 26th Street Armory in Murray Hill for the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. It’s the second-biggest annual fundraiser in New York. Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh from the Eagles are performing. Lots of stars will show up.
But meantime, did you know that "West Side Story" composer Leonard Bernstein almost guest-hosted "SNL" in its first season?
"The idea of John [Belushi] and Danny [Aykroyd] coming out doing a number from that show cracked us up," Chevy recalls.
He and writer Tom Schiller were invited by Bernstein to the New York Philharmonic to discuss the idea. After the show they went to see the famous virtuoso with a penchant for young men backstage.
"He put his hand on my knee. When we were leaving, he kissed me full-on, on the lips. I wagged my finger at him and said, ‘No, no, no.’ And that was the last we ever heard from him."
The inside dope on how the Oscar race is starting to shape up for 2008...
It’s beginning to look a lot like awards season.
Tuesday night, Sean Penn’s "Into the Wild" won Best Feature at the star-studded Gotham Awards, produced by the Independent Feature Project in Brooklyn at Steiner Studios.
Penn was listed on the "tip" sheet as an attending guest, but didn’t show up. His producer, billionaire William Pohlad, and star Emile Hirsch accepted. Michael Moore, who won Best Documentary for "Sicko," also was a no-show.
The Gothams gave honorary awards to "Namesake" director Mira Nair, critic Roger Ebert, actor Javier Bardem and production designer Marc Friedberg. Ellen Page, the 20-year-old actress who’s so good in Jason Reitman’s "Juno," won Breakthrough Performer.
She’s on her way to an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Almost no one’s seen "Juno" yet, but wait 'til you do — it’s the "Little Miss Sunshine" of 2008.
Page told me she’s hoping her best friend/boyfriend Ben Foster gets nominated for his star turn in "3:10 to Yuma."
"I need a date for those Oscars," she deadpanned.
Earlier in the day, the IFP West announced the nominations for the Independent Spirit Awards, which are handed out the day before the Oscars on Feb. 23. Todd Haynes’ Bob Dylan film, "I’m Not There," featuring Cate Blanchett’s much-heralded turn as the pop icon, was awarded Best Ensemble.
Six actors play Dylan, including Blanchett, Richard Gere, Christian Bale and Heath Ledger. The always under-recognized Bruce Greenwood plays two roles, and neither one of them is Dylan.
So here we go. With just two films left for this column to see — "Charlie Wilson’s War" and "Sweeney Todd" — we’ve got a pretty good idea where the nominations are headed.
Mind you, the Spirit Awards only go to films that cost less than $20 million. Several big budget movies are left out, obviously. But many of the Spirit nominees (and Gotham nominees, for that matter) will be showing up at the Oscars.
Included in the Spirit Awards were films such as "Juno," "The Savages," "The Namesake," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and "Talk to Me."
More expensive, yet right in the center of the Oscar mix, are "Grace Is Gone," "Atonement," "No Country for Old Men," "American Gangster," "The Golden Compass," "Lars and the Real Girl," "Michael Clayton" and "The Assassination of Jesse James."
The French film "La Vie En Rose" will be represented by the slam-dunk Best Actress nomination of gorgeous Marion Cotillard. This unknown quantity is tipped among insiders to win right now over formidable competition from better-known actresses such as Laura Linney, Blanchett, and Keira Knightley.
Missing, however, from the overall picture is Sidney Lumet’s "Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead." That masterpiece of a film tied Tuesday night with Kasi Lemmons’ little-seen "Talk to Me" for Best Ensemble at the Gotham Awards.
The latter vanished quickly and went almost straight to DVD. On Tuesday, actors Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor each received Spirit nominations. Maybe that will get Focus Features to remobilize its efforts. Cheadle deserves a Best Actor nomination from the Academy Awards. He probably won’t get it.
"Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead" is another story. Think Films, sources tell me, is not putting any money into Lumet’s stunning achievement. Lumet should win Best Director this year, but at this rate, with Think acting timidly, nothing is happening. There should be Best Supporting nominations for Ethan Hawke and Marisa Tomei, and a Best Original Screenplay nom for Kelly Masterson.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, who’s good enough to be nominated for Best Actor from this film, likely will choose his role from "The Savages" as his entry. But someone better get their act together on this one, and fast. Lumet was the year’s Best Director.
Another nomination that looks a long shot is Casey Affleck for Best Supporting Actor in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford." OK, no one saw this movie. But no effort is being made either on Affleck’s behalf or the film’s. This is a shame.
In a year when Best Supporting Actor is overcrowded, Affleck was the standout. The other candidates are Hal Holbrook ("Into the Wild"), Ben Foster ("3:10 to Yuma"), Irfan Khan ("The Namesake"), Philip Bosco ("The Savages"), Paul Dano ("There Will Be Blood") and three choices from "No Country for Old Men": Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin.
Some actors were overlooked in the Spirit Nominations. Linney was left out from "The Savages" in Best Actress. She should come back in the Golden Globes and Oscars. Tabu, the stunning Indian actress, should be in the Best Supporting category for "The Namesake." She and Khan, her co-star, each deserve to get Supporting nominations.
That is one film that Academy voters must seek out from Fox Searchlight, as it was released last March.
Starting Wednesday night at the IFC Center on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan you can see D.A. Pennebaker’s outtakes film from his famous Bob Dylan documentary "Don’t Look Back." The film is available as part of the new DVD box set of the more famous movie.
This is the first time it’s being shown in a theater. Why, you might ask? Well, the Blanchett segment of Haynes’ wonderfully crazy "I’m Not There" is such a tribute to "Don’t Look Back" that it seemed like a good time to remind the world about the source material. See them both and decide…
Warner Music Group hit an all-time stock price low on Tuesday, finishing the day at $6.89 after bottoming out at $6.77. Thursday morning, WMG will have a conference call to discuss its monumental losses with Wall Street. That call should be a test for the investment bankers and analysts who will get to ask questions of Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Lyor Cohen.
I hope the callers won't just roll over and play dead to proclamations about "new media" and downloading and simply ask the pair why in the world they have not developed any acts in their almost four years running a record company, and why they have no new releases for the holiday season.
Someone — maybe Jessica Reif Cohen of Merrill Lynch — might ask about the psychological effect of Madonna's leaving the company, and if the new WMG should even be considered a record company anymore. Dare ya.