Angelina Jolie's Press Ban Touches Nerve

Angelina Jolie | Tony Soprano | 'Entourage' Movie; Yoko

Angelina Jolie's Anti-Press Touches Nerve

Our report yesterday about Angelina Jolie banning press from interviews and requiring interviewers to sign contracts touched off a firestorm. Mostly it was from colleagues who were relieved that we’d finally lifted the veil on all this craziness.

And it wasn’t just about FOX News getting banned from the red carpet. That was bad, but it wasn’t the central issue. Jolie treats all the press with hostility unless she can control the outcome of an interaction. Insisting interviewers sign contracts was an affront, considering that her movie is about the murder of a reporter who tried bravely to do his job. And then to pretend empathy by raising money at the movie for Reporters Without Borders. The hypocrisy and arrogance were overwhelming.

The fact is, Angelina Jolie — despite her posturing as Goodwill Ambassador to the world — is just like everyone else. She’s only different in that she’s created rules for herself that are so far beyond the norm of self-absorbed celebrity nuttiness, that she finally went too far.

It’s too bad, because Michael Winterbottom’s “A Mighty Heart,” which opens next Friday, is really a wonderful film that should be seen by the widest possible audience. That’s why what’s happened is so frustrating: it’s not like Jolie was in a bomb and needed to protect herself.

Of course, then I got reports from last night’s red carpet. It turns out that Jolie simply skipped the entire print area of the carpet, which means she didn’t give interviews for her own film to the many very nice, well-mannered print reporters from magazines and daily newspapers who wait patiently with tape recorders to ask completely innocuous questions like “What are you wearing?” and “How’s Shiloh?”

It’s a good thing Jolie has an Oscar (for “Girl Interrupted”). She will find no support next fall when she wants a nomination for playing Mariane Pearl. There has hardly been a less sympathetic actress in recent history. Even Russell Crowe knows how to be charming when he has to.

Still, there is plenty in “Mighty Heart” to admire and reward, not the least of which is Winterbottom’s direction. He turns what could have been a dead end of a story into an absorbing thriller. And he gets good stuff from his two supporting actors, Dan Futterman and Irfan Khan. None of that can be overlooked.

Jolie’s defense this morning is that a) her lawyer was overzealous with the journalists’ contract; and b) an “oversight” caused FOX News not to be invited to the red carpet. Both the lawyer, Robert Offer, and Paramount Pictures, are ready to fall on their swords for the star.

But neither statement is even remotely true. Jolie, the Ambassador, would never let her attorney distribute a contract without approval. And the good folks at Paramount Vantage know all too well what really happened. They cannot be blamed.

So do see “A Mighty Heart’ next Friday when it’s released. We owe it to Daniel Pearl, and to Mariane and the son Daniel never got to meet. But let’s not forget that it’s a movie, and that actors are playing parts. They are separable from the real people whose lives they conveying. It’s important to remember that, and to observe that in this case, the actor learned nothing from the experience.

Meanwhile, thanks to the New York Times’s Sharon Waxman, who simply stole our story from yesterday, including the news of the contract from Robert Offer, without giving any credit except to elicit a denial from Paramount. Really, really lame.

Tony Soprano Finally Beats Tony Bennett

For years, Tony Bennett refused to allow his songs in “The Sopranos.” Did you know that? Tony’s manager son Danny Bennett tells me that every season, David Chase’s office would call to ask permission for a Bennett recording.

“And we always turned them down,” Danny says. “My dad felt that the show was demeaning to Italians.”

A couple of times, Chase worked in references to Tony Bennett, Danny recalled with a smile. “When Tony was shot, Carmela brought him Tony’s box set in the hospital. She said, 'These are his favorite songs.'"

But the songs were not heard.

And then, in Sunday night’s finale, a permanent impression of Tony Bennett: Tony Soprano flips through the juke box on the diner table, and finds a single: “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” backed with “A Lonely Place.” It was released in 1969.

“It was a real single,” Danny Bennett says. Indeed, there’s a long lingering close-up. But Tony couldn’t pick either one, Danny says, and Chase knew it. Danny Bennett has a theory. “David Chase put those there, but since he couldn’t have either song, he knew Tony couldn’t choose them.”

The other choice Tony Soprano lingers on is Heart’s record, “Magic Man.” But Danny points out, “It was “Magic Man (Live). The ‘live’ part is important. And he didn’t choose that one either.”

Of course, Soprano picked Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” And six days after a TV show went off the air, we are still talking about it. I am surprised that so many people didn’t understand that when a TV show or movie cuts to black, and there’s silence, death is indicated. That’s it. This is one of the oldest conventions of filmed drama. The Sopranos, I must tell you, are gone. They are not coming back, except in syndication.

'Entourage': And Now, the Movie; Yoko Exonerated

“Entourage” is back, even though it just ended. Yes, a new “season” is starting back to back with the conclusion of an old one on HBO.

Last night, the Ziegfeld was jammed by fans who came to see episodes 1 and 2. They were not disappointed. The boys go to Colombia to make “Medellin,” their infamous indie film.

Creator Doug Ellin uses a trenchant mockumentary style to tell how the “movie” was made. It’s simply brilliant. And in episode 2, Ari (Jeremy Piven) gets a very interesting truth-telling. “Entourage” is brilliant, and still under-rated.

And wow, what a party afterward at the Roseland Ballroom! Pool tables, poker tables and a very carnival-like atmosphere. Also, the largest number of people I’ve seen in quite a while. Who were they? I have no idea, but Clinton supporter Ron Burkle was spotted, and so were Billy Joel and wife Katie, plus Ari Emanuel, the famed Endeavor agent upon whom our beloved fictional Ari is based. It was like an episode from “Entourage,” for better or worse.

So what happens to “Medellin”? Since “Entourage” spent two weeks filming at the Cannes Film Festival last month, we can surmise that they take it to the South of France for a premiere. Is it in the festival or just in the market? Unclear. But things are heating up, and it’s all good. ...

Kudos to ABC’s Cynthia McFadden on her Paul McCartney interview Thursday on “Nightline.” Angelina Jolie should take notes from this. McCartney was uncomfortable with some of McFadden’s questions, but dealt with it graciously. She probed, but wasn’t intrusive. It was all exactly right. And she got in the best question: “Was it Yoko’s fault?” Paul, slightly taken aback: “No!” Again, right on. Congrats.