Things are not looking so good for the big, new epic film "Alexander."
The flick opens tomorrow to uniformly awful reviews and a lot of controversy, despite Colin Farrell weighing in as the leading man.
At the center of the storm: upset Greeks who insist the real Alexander was not bisexual.
In Oliver Stone's movie, the warrior seems more besotted by his best buddy, played by Jared Leto, than his female love interest Rosario Dawson.
Warner Brothers, still smarting from disappointing results on "The Polar Express," kept press out of the "Alexander" premiere at Lincoln Center last night.
Or rather: It wasn't a premiere, the studio insisted, but a Lincoln Center screening with the stars and director on hand. Whatever.
"Alexander" could have been just hilariously bad, like another Warner's epic from this year, "Troy." But the public seems to be guessing that "Alexander" is worse than that — a "Heaven's Gate" for 2004.
On top of a production budget of at least $165 million, the studio is spending another $65 million for marketing. Ouch!
The only hope is that foreign audiences not hanging on the nuance of language will turn out in droves to see Farrell and friends.
But don't fear for Warner Brothers; they still have potential hits in Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" and Joel Schumacher's "Phantom of the Opera."
Miramax chief and co-founder Harvey Weinstein received his honorary Commander of the British Empire award last night before some pretty important people: financiers.
It was a rare event that brought together one of the most exclusive and moneyed crowds of recent memory, a sort of Murderers' Row of heavy-hitting big shots.
In one room at the magnificent East Side apartment of recently arrived British Consul-General Sir Philip Thomas: Blackstone Group's Pete Peterson, former Lazard Frères partner Steve Rattner, now owner of booming Quadrangle LLC, Comcast's Brian Roberts, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts' Henry Kravis, Cablevision's Jim Dolan, Hachette Filipacchi Media president Jack Kliger, Atlanta Braves chairman Bill Bartholomay and venture capitalist Thomas H. Lee.
Add to that group "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels, Infinity Broadcasting CEO John Sykes, famed lawyer David Boies and music-industry attorney John Eastman, brother-in-law of Paul McCartney.
Can you say A-list? It was just this group of very powerful men, plus a couple of us peons (George Rush of the Daily News, Ian Mohr of Variety) and Harvey's family.
Of course, there was also assistant consul Duncan Taylor and British Academy Awards doyenne Freddie Hancock.
Weinstein got his CBE for producing or distributing an endless number of films in or about Great Britain, including Best Picture Oscar winners "Shakespeare in Love," "Mrs. Brown," "Mansfield Park" and the current hit and Oscar favorite "Finding Neverland."
But the talk at the gathering was decidedly more about the current animosity between the Weinsteins and Disney's Michael Eisner.
Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob sold Miramax, the company they created, to Disney 10 years ago and have, as individuals, been working under a contract that's about to expire. Eisner, acting from what seems like spite, has indicated he doesn't want to renew.
Miramax, so important to the New York economy and the chief maker of quality independent films in the world, is in danger of itself expiring and becoming part of the Disney library. Hence the money men.
"Harvey is very finance-able," said Lee, whose leveraged buyout firm raised the money last year for Edgar Bronfman, Jr. to purchase Warner Music Group from Time Warner.
Lee, who was soft-spoken and unusually friendly for a banker of such magnitude, can only be described as bullish on the Weinsteins. He seemed ready to help them start a new movie company on the spot.
"Harvey is very attached to having the Miramax name," he said. "He doesn't realize his name is bigger."
One of the sticking points between the Weinsteins and Eisner is said to be over who would get the Miramax name. It comes from a combination of the names of the Weinsteins' mother, Miriam, and their late father Max.
Indeed, the number of financial giants in the British consul's apartment did suggest that the Weinsteins may be getting ready to start a new studio and reluctantly let Disney have what's left of Miramax.
Eisner has a history with this sort of thing, of course. In 1995 his personal enmity toward his underling Jeffrey Katzenberg caused the birth of Dreamworks SKG.
Katzenberg, in a new partnership with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, took most of Disney's animators and decimated the company. He then sued Disney for $250 million, later reaching a settlement.
Disney now relies largely on animated releases from Pixar, another company it will cease doing business with soon, as per Eisner.
If the Weinsteins leave and Miramax is reduced to merely a label, that will be it for Academy Awards and adult fare at Disney.
"A kid from Queens getting something from the Queen," Weinstein quipped as he accepted his award equally for himself and his brother Bob.
But this latest honor comes at a bittersweet time.
"Sixty-five BATFA Awards and 75 Academy Awards," he said ruefully, "and Disney doesn't want to renew my contract."
He added, in an aside, that he was keeping track of the Disney shareholders' trial down in Delaware.
But the trial, and Disney's apparent shortsightedness, may not be much of a topic soon.
One look around the British consul's apartment last night and it seemed possible that a combination of these men — who already have overlapped investments — could easily form a consortium of investors for the Weinsteins to begin anew.
Rattner chatted with Roberts in one corner, and Dolan was in conversation with Lee in another. Pete Peterson seemed to make the rounds of all concerned, while Lorne Michaels, altogether skipping money talk, told me about U2's already legendary appearance on this past weekend's "Saturday Night Live."
"They weren't sure which old song they were going to do," Michaels said in reference to the group's rousing rendition of the early hit "I Will Follow" in the last five minutes of the show.
As viewers at home saw, the audience went wild.
"Then they played 20 minutes after the show ended," he said.
Michaels said he has the whole thing on tape but isn't sure if or when he'll air it.
It's unclear if one knew who the other was, but former secretary of state and consummate overachiever Henry Kissinger was actually introduced to O.J. Simpson's infamous houseguest, and internationally known underachiever, Brian "Kato" Kaelin last night.
They were just two of the guests at the lavish birthday shindig for FOX News's beloved Rita Cosby, who lent her name to raising money for the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation.
Also in the crowd: Geraldo Rivera, Tina Louise, Don King, Donald Trump (Senior and Junior), criminal-defense attorney Mickey Sherman, a variety of celebrities of all ilk and importance including Stephen Baldwin, Jaid Barrymore, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and singer Michael Bolton.
The whole thing took place at the new V Steakhouse in Time Warner's urban catastrophe of a mall in Columbus Circle, with a casino set up and lots of presentations to Rita from her many friends and colleagues.
Happy Birthday, Rita!