Maybe not winning so many Oscars has pushed Leonardo DiCaprio to look for other ways to win awards. I’m told Leo is in negotiations to star on Broadway this fall in David Rabe’s incendiary play, “The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel.”
If the agents get it all in place, Leo would be reviving a role created by Al Pacino 30 years ago this month.
But timing is everything: DiCaprio would have to roll into “Pavlo Hummel” straight from filming “Revolutionary Road” with Kate Winslet, directed by the actress’ husband, Sam Mendes.
“Pavlo Hummel” is an interesting choice for DiCaprio, who never shies away from a challenge. Certainly his last several roles in Martin Scorsese films like "The Departed," "The Aviator" and "Gangs of New York" have shown his range.
The play, about an American soldier in Vietnam, also features a second lead character named Ardell, an African-American who functions as Pavlo’s alter ego.
In the Pacino version, an actor named Gustave Johnson took the part. But this time, the play’s producers will undoubtedly be looking for a strong name actor to fill the bill — and maybe one with stage experience, which DiCaprio lacks. A good choice would be Anthony Mackie, who appeared off-Broadway recently in “A Soldier’s Story.”
DiCaprio’s Broadway venture means he follows other Hollywood types like Julia Roberts and Sean "Diddy" Combs into the lion’s den. Theater critics will most certainly have their long knives out, ready to kill at the least suggestion of trouble. But my guess is, the kid is tough and can take it.
Meanwhile, some other names being bandied out for Broadway in the next year, sources say, include Pacino himself and the new James Bond, Daniel Craig. The word is that Craig and Nicole Kidman are shopping for something they can do together.
Do you remember some of the terrible movies that Richard Gere used to make? "Sommersby" ring a bell? "Mr. Jones"? "King David"?
But something changed around the time of Robert Altman’s 2000 feature “Dr. T and the Women.” All of a sudden, Gere — who’d made his debut in Richard Brooks’ “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” (1977) and Terrence Malick’s amazing “Days of Heaven” (1978) — came into his own.
He finally seemed relaxed on screen. An Oscar nomination for “Chicago” and a huge succes d’estime in “Unfaithful” cemented this theory.
Now Gere is playing a supreme con man, author Clifford Irving, in “Hoax.” This is the real story of how Irving swindled publisher McGraw Hill and the whole world in 1971 when he claimed to have the authority to co-author reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes’ autobiography.
Irving wound up going to jail, but not before trying to collect a million bucks. Back then, it was a story not unlike Anna Nicole Smith. You couldn’t get away from it.
Richard Gere’s Irving is a lot sexier, of course, but the actor gets it completely right. Considering Irving is totally reprehensible, Gere makes him very sympathetic. His performance is one to remember for fall awards season.
Gere is also assisted by the likes of Alfred Molina (as his best friend and collaborator), Stanley Tucci, Hope Davis and Marcia Gay Harden (as his put-upon wife.) They are each tremendous.
Of course, my favorite director, Lasse Hallstrom, is responsible for “Hoax.” He came to Sunday night’s elegant premiere at the Metropolitan Club with actress/wife, Lena Olin.
Hallstrom is more right than wrong ("Cider House Rules," "Chocolat," "Gilbert Grape," "My Life as a Dog," the underrated "Casanova"), and he knows what he’s doing. But I did ask Gere at the party if he’d noticed this sea change in his career.
He wasn’t sure.
“I have two kids at home and that changes your whole perspective,” he said. “But also, it’s if the actor has an affinity for the material. And we feel pretty good about this movie. We know it’s good.”
He’s right. And Gere is good at playing con men. Those first two characters, in “Days of Heaven” and “Goodbar,” were shiftless. So, too, was the lawyer Billy Flynn in “Chicago.” In “Unfaithful,” he murders his wife’s lover.
Maybe Gere’s on to something. All those romantic heroes he played were fun, but boring.
Meanwhile, did I tell you that Eli Wallach has a nice-sized role in this film? He turned 91 in December, appeared recently in “The Holiday” and still has another film in the can. Good for him!
Wallach refuses to go down swinging. Maybe a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oscars is appropriate. Wallach, who made his career in the theater, has a 1951 Tony Awards, a Golden Globe nomination from 1957, a Drama Desk award from 1998 and one Emmy Award. No Oscars, though. It’s about time.
The winner of the 2007 International Songwriters Competition: Scott Leger, lead singer of the group Wideawake.
The judges must know what they’re doing. They included Brian Wilson, Robert Smith, Macy Gray, Tom Waits & Jerry Lee Lewis. …
May is "green" month. Leo’s on the cover of Vanity Fair, and Elle is doing a green issue with guest editors Laurie David and Danny Seo.
On Thursday, Elle hosts a big green bash in L.A. at Boulevard 3 with performances by Sheryl Crow and KT Tunstall.
Laurie and Sheryl, they say, then go on a green tour of college campuses. I hope it’s not on Laurie’s private jet. Hybrids, ladies! ...
Fiction Plane, the excellent band fronted by Joe Sumner, releases its second album on May 22. It’s called “Left Side of the Brain” and coincides with the group opening for The Police on many dates this summer.
Sumner is the eldest of Sting’s six children. It must be the genes — in the brood are musical prodigies, a couple of budding actors, a filmmaker and a chess star. …