Ellen Burstyn Ready to Tell Divine Secrets

Ellen Burstyn  | Hugh Grant  | Unfaithful Ending  | Picasso  | Tom Hanks   

Ellen Burstyn Ready to Tell Divine Secrets

The Tribeca Film Festival rolled into a second triumphal night with the premiere of Callie Khouri's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Yes, it's a henfest, a chick flick, whatever. But the dolls were all teary-eyed and there was a feeling of empowerment everywhere so I guess the movie is a success. Personally, I would have liked a good car chase in there somewhere. But it was not to be.

Ellen Burstyn leads a phenomenal all-star cast that includes James Garner, Sandra Bullock, Ashley Judd, Shirley Knight, Fionnula Flanagan and Maggie Smith. Angus MacFadyen is in there somewhere but really, it's estrogen city.

Burstyn, who made a serious comeback in Requiem for a Dream, told me two divine secrets of her own. One is that she's writing her autobiography for Riverhead Press. She's covering her remarkable life and career from before the time she became an overnight star in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore through the present. Hopefully, the book will be out sometime next year.

Ellen also told me that she's ready to sign on the dotted line for Requiem director Darren Aronofsky's new movie. "I'm just waiting for Warner Bros. to sign the deal," she said.

Ah, Warner Bros. come on, already! The film will shoot in Australia, and unlike Requiem this is an original screenplay by the mysterious, dark Aronofsky. The subject however, Ellen says, "is a big secret. I can't tell you a thing about it. I'm sworn to secrecy."

Bonnie Bruckheimer produced Divine Secrets by the way, and when I ran into her last night she looked about 10 years younger than she did last year. It's not plastic surgery. Her 22 year business partnership with Bette Midler is over. Bruckheimer is too nice to say anything, but I can tell you how she spells relief.

Divine Secrets, meantime, is for fans of Steel Magnolias and Fried Green Tomatoes, which is a compliment. I thought Sandra Bullock was miscast, though, as Burstyn's daughter. I'm a huge Bullock fan and keep waiting for her to hit a groove with great movies. The day is coming, but this isn't it, at least not for her.

Hugh Grant as Tony Blair?

Hugh Grant is no fool: He's had a lot of hits with writer Richard Curtis like Bridget Jones's Diary, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Now he's going to star in Curtis's directorial debut, called Love Actually. Grant will play a British prime minister who falls in love, but producer Eric Fellner tells me he's part of a large ensemble, and not the only male lead. "It's sort of Notting Hill goes to the government," Feller said.

Fellner, whose Working Title pictures will produce Love Actually, is also looking forward to a new movie starring Rowan Atkinson. Their previous project, Bean, was a worldwide phenomenon.

Meanwhile, I don't think I was effusive enough about Grant in his new movie, About a Boy. This is a mostly terrific picture directed with sensitivity and astuteness by none other than the Weitz brothers — the same guys who made American Pie. Weird, huh? Paul Weitz told me at the premiere, "We're trying to mix the high and low." I'll say.

Paul and Chris Weitz are the sons of fashion legend John Weitz, who himself has a second career: he has written several serious biographies. Weitz has been ill of late, but Paul says his father has been keeping up with their movies and enjoying them. But what kind of father was he? "He made us wear little blue blazers with insignias," Paul said. Otherwise, he was great.

The Weitzes next movie will most likely take them back to the world of food, although no one will be having sex with it this time.

"It's set in upstate New York at the Culinary Institute," Paul said. "It's all about this group of people who are concentrating on success in this single area."

A pastry chef will undoubtedly be one of the main characters.

 Unfaithful Ending Update

Now that Unfaithful is starting to play at theatres, I'm hearing more about the different drafts of the screenplay (see this column from a couple of days ago).

The topic of discussion is the movie's ending. One version which audiences saw, but did not make the final cut, was of Richard Gere walking into the police station, and then walking out. Now I'm told that Stephen Schiff's ending involved Gere coming out of the station and being whisked away by Diane Lane before the police knew what was happening.

Since neither of those endings made the final version, I'm not giving anything away. I'm also told by the way that the numerous references to Fatal Attraction were unintentional. "Adrian Lyne just wanted those things there," said my source. "He made no mention of Fatal Attraction when we were shooting. It wouldn't occur to him."

Picasso: You Read It Here

Yesterday's announcement that Steve Martin's play Picasso at the Lapin Agile was being turned into a movie couldn't have come as a surprise to readers of this column. I told you back on April 16 that Martin, Kevin Kline, and Ryan Phillippe were all set for Fred Schepisi's production.

Hanks Ready for Apollo 14?

They were either discussing making Apollo 14 or the sequel to Splash. Director Ron Howard, his producing partner Brian Grazer, and star Tom Hanks were in deep discussion Wednesday at the Ivy at the Shore in Santa Monica. I'm told lunch diners were craning necks and shushing waiters trying to figure out what was going on…

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