Hollywood Assassination | Richard Widmark: 'I Don't Have a Great Movie' | Sting and Pals Are Coming; So Are Gospel All-Stars
There’s a secret screenplay going around Hollywood for casting, but it’s not likely one of the major players will touch it with a 10-foot pole.
The script is for a film version of Peter Biskind’s critically panned, much-loathed, bitter "expose" of the Sundance Film Festival and the indie film world called "Down and Dirty Pictures."
According to the script, it’s written by a newcomer named Joshua James and will be directed by someone called Kenneth Bowser. The listed producer is Kevin Scott Frakes and the film company that’s going to make this thing is Palm-Star Entertainment.
But really, the movie these people should have made is called "You’ll Never Eat Lunch or Any Meal or Ever Work in This Town Again."
That’s because Biskind’s book was unkind and inaccurate appraisal of the Sundance Film Festival, Redford and the old Miramax Films, including the Weinstein brothers.
Biskind, I’m told, is taking the stance that he’s "horrified" by the making of his book into a movie. But on the Palm Star Web site, he’s quoted: "Behind the cameras with the giants of the indie film scene in the 90’s was almost as exciting as what was in front of the cameras. It’s a subject that demands to be made into a feature film."
Well, Biskind is wrong. No parodies of Hollywood ever have been successful or even partially interesting to the general public, with maybe the exception of Robert Altman’s "The Player." Otherwise, the audience is not even remotely compelled to figure out what’s going on. Witness the recent debacle of turning Art Linson’s memoir, "What Happened Next," into an unfunny comedy starring Robert DeNiro.
When it debuted, ironically, at Sundance, no one laughed. It still has no distributor.
Those who’ve seen the script for "D&D" say that Redford, Weinstein and many other key Hollywood power players are depicted — and none too kindly. What are these Palm Star people thinking, really? This is the kind of idea that sounds good late at night but should have been dismissed the next morning.
And who would you hate to be more? The actor hired to play Redford or Weinstein? They have to be the least-desired parts ever offered for casting, with the exception of Mark David Chapman in the new John Lennon assassination film, "Chapter 27."
Richard Widmark: 'I Don't Have a Great Movie'
Richard Widmark died on Wednesday at age 93. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing him in January 2002 at his home in Connecticut with my friend John Connolly.
The consummate actor and gentleman, Widmark should have been given a Lifetime Achievement award by the Oscars a long time ago. He was only nominated once, in 1947, for his debut as Tommy Udo in "Kiss of Death."
He laughed when we talked about that film — and the famous scene in which he pushes wheelchair-bound Mildred Dunnock down a flight of stairs.
"You make 50 movies over a lifetime and that’s the one they remember you for," he chuckled.
He told me that he never had "a great movie," but I differ. He had several: "Night and the City," "Pick Up on South Street," "The Street With No Name" and "No Way Out" are all classics. Today, you can see a lot of Widmark in Viggo Mortensen’s face. He was the king of film noir; Mortensen seems sometimes to be echoing his pathos.
Widmark was married for 50 years to the same woman, his beloved Jean. When she died in 1997, he married one more time to Susan Blanchard, the third wife of the late Henry Fonda. They were friends and neighbors. It was through Peter and Becky Fonda that I got to talk to Richard; Peter still considered Susan his "mom." I am so grateful it worked out.
Here are a couple of things he told me for our interview: Karl Malden was his oldest friend. They’d met in 1938 doing radio work. About his contemporary, Robert Mitchum: "I liked old Bob but he was a real bullshitter. We were in different worlds. He was in the booze world."
Bette Davis, he said, was "tough." Marilyn Monroe "was a ding dong. I liked old Marilyn. No one could get her out on the set."
Widmark’s last film was "True Colors" in 1991. After that, he didn’t see the need to continue. His favorite actors? "Spencer Tracy, Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart. I’d go back to work if I could work with those guys. I loved them."
Just a great guy, and such a wonderful actor. His death marks the end of an era.
Sting and Pals Are Coming; So Are Gospel All-Stars
Circle May 8 for the semi-annual Rainforest Foundation gala at Carnegie Hall. Sting and wife, Trudie Styler, have gathered up Brian Wilson, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Feist and Chris Botti, not to mention several special guests including the possible "unofficial" debut of the couple’s 17-year-old musical prodigy daughter, Coco Sumner.
MacAndrews & Forbes (meaning Ronald Perelman) and Crate & Barrel are co-sponsoring the night, which includes a gala dinner in the new ballroom of the renovated Plaza Hotel.
Between Friday and April 10, charitybuzz.com is going to auction off an unprecedented "All Access" pass that includes an exclusive closed-set dress rehearsal, a private box at Carnegie Hall, a table at the Plaza Hotel’s Grand Ballroom and maybe a lute lesson from Sting! (Just kidding, but you never know.)
Tickets to this thing sell out fast, kids, so if you’re interested call Tamara Leuchtenburg at Event Associates, (212) 245-6570 email@example.com.
And just so you know: In 2006, after its last big fundraiser, the Rainforest Foundation sent $887,374 to specific conservation projects in Peru, Brazil, the Congo, Suriname and Ecuador. Needless to say, Sting and Trudie not only don’t get any money out of the foundation, but in 2006 they A) donated their Malibu home for one week to auction winners, and B) gave $100,000 of their own money to the cause, according to the group’s federal tax filing. Talk about putting your money where your tofu is, or something like that. Bravo! ...
Meanwhile: Don’t miss the amazing and legendary Clark Sisters at Radio City Music Hall on April 19. The gospel greats will be joined by Rev. Shirley Caesar and Yolanda Adams. A portion of the proceeds will go to The Corratta L. Walker Educational Scholarship Fund for Children.
Have you ever heard Karen Clark sing? She’s Mariah Carey’s favorite singer. What more do I need to say? Call Ticketmaster or Radio City for more information…