Gwyneth's Oscar Run Is Miramax's Last Stand

Gwyneth Paltrow | Diddy | Theater of the New Ear

Gwyneth's Oscar Run Is Miramax's Last Stand

I told you last year that Gwyneth Paltrow had an Oscar-sized hit in "Proof," the film based on the award-winning play about a woman coming to grips with her mathematician father's legacy.

Now, just prior to the film's premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, reviews are at last coming in from the trade press, and they concur: Paltrow is a cinch for a nomination, and maybe even a win.

It doesn't hurt that Paltrow teamed up with director John Madden in London's West End, where he directed her onstage in the same role.

Paltrow rises from the ashes of her recent flops, such as "Sylvia" and "Shallow Hal," to prove that her 1999 Academy Award for "Shakespeare in Love" was justified.

What makes this perhaps a more delicious success for her is that she does it without using an accent — considered a crutch by some — or any other gimmicks.

Will "Proof" prove to be a mega-hit? It's unlikely.

This production is a succès d'estime, as they say, with "art-house smash" written all over it.

Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein oversaw the production, and the result is exactly the reason he is famous.

Ironically, it will be the last of the great performances to come out of that studio, now that Disney's Michael Eisner has minimized Miramax into a shell of its former self and Weinstein has gone on to start a new company with his brother.

The Oscars should be full of ironies like that this year, since the Weinsteins will also feature Dame Judi Dench, one of their franchise players, in "Mrs. Henderson Presents," about a London theater owner who puts on all-nude music-hall revues.

Eisner should feel a little queasy as the old Miramax rakes in at least one Best Picture nomination and two Best Actress nods. They will be the last with which Miramax's old tormenter is associated.

The Weinsteins should also have Golden Globe aspirations with Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen in "Derailed."

Of course, Disney can look forward to such 2005 releases as "Herbie: Fully Loaded," "Sky High" and "A Lot Like Love" — the Ashton Kutcher-Amanda Peet feature, now playing to ovations on airlines — to reap many accolades during the upcoming awards season.

MTV Invents the 'Diddy-ot' Generation

We've had Generation X and Generation Y.

After seeing Sean "Diddy" Combs host the MTV Video Music Awards, I guess we can all agree we've arrived at the age of the "Diddy-ot."

Combs is a likeable personality, with a lot of drive and incredible marketing success. Nevertheless, he cannot sing or rap, or even dance.

When he tries the latter, he looks like a whooping crane. But fill a stage with dress-alike dancers in white suits, throw in some fancy editing and voilà! Combs is Fred Astaire.

If you're over 30, you know that the Video Music Awards look calamitous when they're broadcast. They also look over-packaged, with no spontaneity and little talent from the show's performers.

The other night's show was so creepy that even Mariah Carey had the good sense to put on her garish, overwrought water nymph-a-thon from another location. She conveyed exactly what the VMAs felt like: You wouldn't be there if you had to.

By the way, The Who's Roger Daltrey must have agreed.

Backstage at Live 8 in London, MTV's Van Toffler approached him about singing with Green Day at the show. He obviously declined, and that was a good thing.

In the end, the show was all about Combs. The Diddy-ot Generation is so lacking for any kind of leader that I suppose MTV couldn't think of anyone else to hang its Moonman on.

Combs got to promote his boy band, B5, and pretend to conduct a group of classical violinists over a Notorious B.I.G. video.

This is all a lead-up to his new "album," which is due from the new Warner Music Group in November.

Will it work? Did dropping the "P" from P. Diddy create enough interest to sell the CD? Or will he cut it all the way back to Iddy? That remains to be seen.

But what made his usual comic self-parody cross the line into something more disturbing was his assertion during the show that "tonight, anything can happen."

To demonstrate that, Combs unclipped his diamond-studded platinum watch, gave a product plug to its maker (Jacob the Jeweler) and tossed it to a stranger in the audience.

That's because, with kids their age fighting in Iraq, and all the other serious issues affecting their future, all the Diddy-ot Generation is interested in — at least, according to the Video Music Awards — is brand-name stuff.

Let's just hope that the parents of the kid who got the watch, if he was really an audience member and was really allowed to keep it, have at least sold it by now.

Lending a 'New Ear'

This weekend, Sirius Satellite Radio will offer multiple broadcasts of an extraordinary pair of radio comedies, "Theater of the New Ear."

The plays are written by Charlie Kaufman ("Adaptation," "Being John Malkovich") and the Coen brothers ("Fargo," "The Big Lebowski").

The Coens' play is called "Sawbones"; Kaufman's is "Hope Leaves the Theater."

Among the actors who star are Meryl Streep, Steve Buscemi, Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Harden, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Goodman.

So you see, Sirius isn't just about Howard Stern. It's also pretty "serious."

I'm told Sirius is arranging for a live performance of the Kaufman play, with most of the original cast out in Los Angeles the week of Sept. 12. Stay tuned.