All-Star Political Documentary Unveiled at Last

The Last Party 2000 | Mob Phone Cards | The Modine Family

All-Star Political Documentary Unveiled at Last

Actors Donovan Leitch (the actor, model, and son of folk singer Donovan) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Magnolia, Almost Famous) finally showed the full version of their film, Last Party 2000 to friends and associates last Thursday night. They seem to have a winner.

Last Party 2000 is a sequel of sorts to the movie Robert Downey Jr. made about the 1992 political campaigns. Downey was unavailable last summer, due to “prior commitments,” so Hoffman and Leich took over. This film follows Hoffman as he goes to L.A. and Philadelphia, and then finally to Tallahassee for the big post-election screed.

In addition to Hoffman, there are plenty of other familiar but odd faces who drift through, including Politically Incorrect host Bill Maher, Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, singer Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Courtney Love, Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots and lots of politicians. Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins put in appearances as backers of Ralph Nader, and a lot of other stars sort of drift in and out as the political process marches on.

Hoffman’s gang could have stuck to just the celebrities, but that would have been tedious at best. For example, I will never forget watching Sean Penn and a gang of friends march into the Democratic convention last summer, take VIP seats for the speeches, and then skip out when the actual roll call of states began. Thanks to them, I had a wonderful view of the proceedings, which were the heart of the convention and the reason we were all there — or so I thought.

Instead, Last Party 2000 packs in a lot of “real” people who feel disenfranchised from the political system and are trying to make sense of Gore, Bush, and the ever present Bill Clinton. The best sequence in the movie is a visit the film crew makes to a gun show, where they meet a voluble, articulate arms manufacturer who explains the NRA to them. It’s one of those lovely moments you hope for in this kind of documentary.

The Last Party crew is looking for a distributor, and hopefully they’ll find one fast before their material looks dated. Directors Peter Bogdanovich and Barbara Kopple, both of whom know something about films, came to the screening and gave the film their blessing. Hoffman told me: “You can’t imagine what a jigsaw puzzle this film was. It was much harder than making a fiction film, and people don’t know that.”

They will after they see Last Party 2000

 Stars Once Graced Mob Phone Cards

Great story in Sunday’s NY Post about alleged mobster Joe Watts’s ex-wife running an illegal sex club here in Manhattan.

Even better is an anecdote I can tell you now. Back in 1995, Watts was an alleged member of the Gambino family and assistant to John Gotti who allegedly helped run out Paul Castellano so Gotti could take over. Before he went to prison, I met one of his lieutenants at a restaurant opening. The restaurant was full of mobsters — it looked like The Sopranos before we knew about The Sopranos. When a very big name Italian American politician walked in with his wife, the seas parted and people kissed the wife’s ring. Bada bing!

Watts’s guy was introduced to me by a naïf, someone who didn’t understand what was going on. “This guy is starting a phone company,” my friend said. This also seemed peculiar since only AT&T, Sprint, and MCI were phone companies as far as I knew.

Let’s call our new acquaintance Vito. He had the open shirt, the gold chains, the helmet haired women at his table. He said to me, “I am starting a phone company. And we’ll have phone cards. On the cards are going to pictures of celebrities who support us.” He showed me phone cards with the likenesses of Lee Iacocca, Jackie Collins, and F. Lee Bailey on them. He was planning more.

How did the phone company work? He was a visionary: rent lines from existing phone companies, then lowball the customers. I thought he was nuts. About a year later, all those crazy “Call 10-10-xxxx” commercials started on TV. They’re gone now, but Vito was prescient.

Vito pointed to the jewelry that ornamented his lady friends. “My company makes all the jewelry for Jackie Collins’s collection on Home Shopping. I have a limo company too. If you ever need a car, just let me know.”

He was so friendly, it was mesmerizing. But I sensed I should stick to cabs.

Later, I was told that Vito worked for Joe Watts. Watts later went to prison. (He gets out soon from a six year sentence, only to face more trials. Luckily his defense lawyer is Gerry Shargel, who’s so good that he managed to get China Grill/Asia de Cuba/Tuscan Steak owner Jeffrey Chodorow a measly four-month sentence for defrauding the U.S. government because he said his client’s kid had Tourette’s Syndrome. Prosecutors are still cursing Shargel.)

And me? I stuck with MCI. Unlike Vito, they offer frequent flier miles. 

Modines: A Regular Family?

I don’t write about Matthew Modine very often but I see him all the time. Matthew is ubiquitous in New York film circles, turning up at the good parties and knowing the right people. He works, but not in flashy stuff. And when he does work, as with the recent TV version of Flowers for Algernon, or in Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday, he’s just perfect. He’s the rare actor whose face we’d like to see more on screen.

All this is a long preamble, but 41-year-old Matthew turned up at last week’s A.I. premiere with his 15-year-old son Boman, who’s 6-feet tall. (Matthew is a little taller, but Boman is getting there.) How did he get the name Boman? “My wife and I were thinking up names and somehow we got to Boy Man, after Super Man, and then somehow Bo-man just stuck,” he said. Matthew’s been married to his wife Cari since 1980 — that’s right, for 21 years and there’s never been a drip of gossip about them.

Boman, who’s going into high school, sported a T-shirt under his dress suit that read “I See Dead People.” He said, “I have a ten year old sister named Ruby but she’s away right now.” He seemed relieved to have the run of the family home, which is in the center of Greenwich Village.

Among Matthew Modine’s many fine credits is Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, so he was an obvious choice for the A.I. guest list. After the film I asked him what he and Boman thought. He said, “We loved it,” in such an understated way, I think they really did.

Matthew recently completed playing the lead role in Jack and the Beanstalk, directed by Jim Henson’s son, Brian. He also has three independent films in the can, which we’ll see soon enough, either in a local art house or on the Starz channel. If Hollywood producers were smart, they’d start using him — just like Sam Robards in A.I. — in more lead parts. He’s not flashy, but neither was Gary Cooper.