You want to know about Daniel Radcliffe, the 19-year-old actor who’s starred in five "Harry Potter" movies, has one in the can and one left to make.
Yes, Thursday night he opened in Peter Shaffer’s 1975 classic play "Equus" on Broadway. He’s nude, as in without clothes, for quite a bit of the end of the evening. Naked, he lies down on top of an ingénue and tries to make love to her. He jumps around, rolls around, and yes, though the lighting is discreet, it’s still a small theater. You get the picture.
Radcliffe’s character also concludes Act 1 stripped to the waist, piggybacked on another actor who’s wearing a horse’s head, and mounts him. There is no room for ambiguity about his character’s relationship to the horse.
None of this would matter much in 2008 of course if the actor were anyone else. But Radcliffe is carrying a multi-billion dollar movie franchise on his shirtless back. The audience for the films is pre-teens mostly, who read and re-read J.K. Rowling’s books to learn — I’m sorry — about Harry’s, not Daniel’s, magic wand.
Of course, the sixth "Harry Potter" movie had to be moved from its release in six weeks to next summer in order to get away from "Equus" publicity. This caused a domino effect, since the movie has many commercial offshoots, including a video game.
But as this column reported a couple of years ago, the three kids from "Harry Potter," including Radcliffe, had not been signed beyond the first four movies. It’s pretty clear that in the negotiations for chapters 5 through 7, Radcliffe got his way. He wanted to make sure he had a future as an actor beyond bespectacled Harry. After Thursday night’s premiere, it would seem he does. Radcliffe does a brave thing here, and he’s to be commended. It will pay off for him in the future like crazy.
Short and well-built as a jockey, Radcliffe makes a strong impression as Alan Strang, the young man who mysteriously blinds six horses in a barn with a knife. Richard Griffiths, also from the "Harry Potter" series, is his shrink, Dr. Dysart, who gets to the bottom of Alan’s pain.
Kate Mulgrew, the fine actress who should be more famous but looks un-aged after 30 years of excellent work, is Dysart’s colleague and advisor. Both actors are terrific, although it seemed like Griffiths might have been suffering from a cold or a sore throat. In any case, the story of Alan’s sexual psychosis is just as riveting as ever, and the only magic is the Broadway kind.
In the audience were Glenn Close, George Segal, Kathleen Turner and a few theater people. One of them was famous 94-year-old playwright Budd Schulberg, author of "On the Waterfront," "A Face in the Crowd" and "What Makes Sammy Run," among other works. The white-haired Schulberg walks with a cane but still somehow managed to get down a steep flight of stairs at the Broadhurst Theater at intermission, looking for a set of infrared headphones so he could hear the show better.
It wasn’t so easy. The kid running the kiosk demanded Schulberg’s picture I.D. or driver’s license. Schulberg, who was coughing — probably from the walk — said, "I don’t drive." The kid then made his cohort accompany Schulberg to his seat to get I.D. When that kid was told who Schulberg was, he responded, "My company doesn’t care."
As Cindy Adams, who covered the press line, would say, "Only in New York, kids, Only in New York."
As for Radcliffe, the press was banned from the "Equus" party Thursday night at far-off Chelsea Piers. The producers probably didn’t want questions about his private, er, business. With so few celebs in attendance, and a steady rain, Chelsea Piers didn’t hold much interest anyway. But look for Radcliffe et al to have a sold-out run, and for the whole thing to be a distant memory by next July.
By the way, author Peter Shaffer was there Thursday night, too. The author of "Amadeus" and the hilarious "Lettuce and Lovage," as well as "Equus," kind of bridled when I asked him to compare Sir Anthony Hopkins, who originated Dysart, and Griffiths. "Oh, I can’t answer that," he said.
Sharon Stone is not having a good time of it.
This week, she appeared to have lost physical custody of her eldest son, 8-year-old Roan, but her lawyer said she did not lose custody but continues to share joint custody with her ex-husband San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein.
The boy was adopted by Stone and Bronstein when they were married. But Roan has been living with Bronstein for some time now. The judge in the case simply denied Stone’s new motion to let her take Roan to Los Angeles or anywhere else to live.
Stone also has two other sons, Laird and Quinn, whom she adopted on her own. They remain with her and she is devoted to them by all accounts.
But that’s not all. Recently, Stone parted company with her publicist of 20 years, Cindi Berger of PMK-HBH. She signed with Paul Bloch of Rogers & Cowan, who’s kind of a poobah for stars in trouble, like Tom Cruise.
Stone is also said to be maybe at a crossroads with AmFar, the AIDS organization she’s supported for almost two decades. The trouble stems from this year’s Cinema Against AIDS dinner in Cannes, where Stone was criticized for her behavior as emcee by someone. Not everyone. Sharon has many fans who enjoy the annual auction and crazy kibitzing.
Another problem was her comment about China’s devastating earthquake last June. She misspoke, saying it was the "karma" of the Chinese. She meant that the government’s human rights violations are so severe they certainly deserved to be punished in some way. But the whole thing came out wrong, and Stone has been in the hot seat ever since. Sometimes it’s better to write these things out before saying them.
Well, OK, I like Sharon. She’s dynamic and fun. She scares a lot of people. She can be damn good in a movie when she wants too — witness her turn as a hairdresser in "Bobby." She may yet find an elusive Oscar or Golden Globe when she plays Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham in Ryan Murphy’s "Dirty Tricks" movie.
Harvey Weinstein has taken his best fall films and escaped the clutches of the foundering MGM. The Weinstein Company has a hit right now with Woody Allen’s "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." Coming up — and now severed from MGM’s inner workings of chaos — are Oscar possible "The Road," plus Kevin Smith’s hilarious and surefire hit "Zack and Miri Make a Porno."
TWC also keeps "The Reader," starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes, which may yet be released for Oscar consideration this year. Left behind for MGM to deal with, notably: Dimension Films’ gratuitous "Soul Men" starring the deceased Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson. It’s already getting negative buzz. …
"Soul Man" Sam Moore, the real deal when it comes to classic R&B, is on an Apollo mission. Moore hasn’t played the Apollo Theater in Harlem in about 40 years. But when Japanese "soul" star Akiko Wada asked him to be her special guest star there, he couldn’t say no.
Moore, who most recent album is "Overnight Sensational," produced by Randy Jackson, will do a few of his hits on Monday night and set off his usual series of standing Os. And that’s not all: next month he’s being inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame with late partner Dave Prater, as Sam & Dave. …
Elton John, the real Rocket Man, takes over the New Amsterdam Theater on Broadway on Oct. 25 to play his whole beloved 1973 album, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," from start to finish. It’s all for charity, with proceeds going to a few places including his own AIDS Foundation. They say it’s the 35th anniversary of "Brick Road." Feels like yesterday. …