Jack Nicholson and Annie Hall?

Jack and Annie | Rod Stewart | 'N Sync Break-Up? | All-Star Readers

Jack Nicholson and Annie Hall?

As John Mellencamp might say, here's a story about Jack and Diane.

That is, Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, two of our best actors. They're getting ready to team up for an as yet untitled comedy. Their co-star will be Cameron Diaz.

In this new flick, Jack -- who's just finished Anger Management with Adam Sandler and will be in New York next week for the opening of the new About Schmidt -- will play a high powered head of a record company. He's having an affair with Diaz, but falls in love with her mom, played by Keaton.

Will it be funny? Well, director Nancy Meyers' last hit was Mel Gibson's What Women Want, so that should give you an idea. Meyers has also written three of Keaton's past films, including both Father of the Bride movies and the big comedy hit, Baby Boom.

Keaton and Nicholson are old friends, since Keaton dated Jack's best buddy Warren Beatty in the early '80s. The three appeared together in Beatty's masterwork, Reds. (It's one of the lost classics of all time, a real beauty.)

What's kind of interesting about all this is that Nicholson thus far has been paired with a lot of younger women, like Helen Hunt, Robin Wright Penn, etc. But the 65-year-old perennial Hollywood star has thus far resisted on screen romances with "mature" women. Keaton, an Oscar winner (Annie Hall) and multiple nominee, is the perfect foil for him.

Rod Stewart Leaving Rock and Roll?

I don't know which image I will appreciate more in weeks to come, that of Rod Stewart in a satin evening jacket crooning classic ballads, or Clive Davis floating in his yacht off the coast of Sicily listening to demo's for Stewart's new album.

But those were the two images offered on Wednesday night as Davis, the legend, the one and only last of the Mohicans record men re-started Stewart's moribund career. Rod the Sod's always been known as a feisty rocker with a mischievous glint in his eye. But that doesn't wear well in later years, so Davis -- who knows more about resuscitation that an EMS crew -- is now presenting him as a balladeer. And, of course, it works.

Three years ago, the equally famous record producer Richard Perry played me some tracks he'd recorded with Rod at his home studio in Beverly Hills, Calif. Perry, whose credits include the best hits of Carly Simon, Harry Nilsson, Ringo Starr, and the Pointer Sisters, had gotten Rod to look at the great American songbook. They laid down luscious tracks written by Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and the Gershwins.

But then Rod was purged in a cost-cutting scheme at Atlantic Records, along with Anita Baker, and the songbook album seemed like it was a dead issue. Along came Clive Davis, who added some brassier tracks to Perry's textured numbers, and voila! Rod Stewart's It Had to Be You: The Great American Songbook will be released October 22.

On Wednesday, before a glittering invited crowd, Davis previewed six tracks from the new album, then introduced Rod. Stewart -- who still boasts some head of hair! -- sang two songs to pre-recorded backing tracks. But live performance at short distance can't be faked (ask Britney or J-Lo who wouldn't risk it). Stewart's unaided voice was in fine shape, still grainy and raspy but deeply melodic and full of timbre. He also still has his sense of humor, making comic gestures during the pre-recorded instrumental breaks.

After the show, I asked Clive about Santana's new single, "The Game of Love," featuring Michelle Branch. This column broke the news that Santana would have his first female lead singer some time ago. "I saved that song for two years," Davis said. "I had it, and I wanted it to be right."

Davis said also he spent his summer vacation bobbing around the Mediterranean listening to all the tracks recorded for Santana's album, called Shaman, so he could pick the best ones. I'll bet he did. I've been present when Clive has played demo tapes over and over to find the right song, the best mix, etc. And he's right every time.

Other tracks on Shaman will feature Dido, P.O.D., Musiq, and three new tracks written by Rob Thomas. It's also due on October 22.

No Chance of 'N Sync Break-Up (whew!)

Joey Fatone, the 'N Sync star from Brooklyn, is currently on Broadway in Rent. But come January, Joey may be headed to the West Coast. He told me the other night that he's ready to reprise his role from My Big Fat Greek Wedding in the CBS TV series of the same name.

"It's so funny. Originally CBS wanted nothing to do with us. They wanted a whole different cast than the movie cast. Then the movie took off and they signed up everyone except John Corbett from the original cast for the show."

Fatone says he envisions himself as a recurring player on the series. "I'm one of the cousins and there are so many family members that we could come in and out."

Joey, who's so likeable it's hard to envision him having screaming teenage fans, also told me that he will not be following in Justin Timberlake's wake -- no solo album from him. And no 'N Sync break-up because of Justin's project. "I don't see it. We like each other too much. I don't think we'll ever break up."

All-Star Readers Will Tackle Colwin

I'm very pleased to tell you that a bevy of stars and writers will read from Laurie Colwin's writing next Wednesday as a 10th anniversary memorial to this wonderful writer.

Matthew Modine, Peter Bogdanovich, Mary Beth Hurt, Tama Janowitz, Francine Prose, Karen Duffy ("Duff" from MTV and Revlon fame), Linda Yablonsky, novelists Scott Spencer (Endless Love and Waking the Dead) and Meg Wolitzer (This is My Life) will appear -- for free -- on Sept. 25 at the GQ Lounge at 110 University Place. The reading begins at 7pm.

Colwin, who was my great friend and beloved by many, died in October 1992, suddenly, at the age of 48. Her many fine books include Happy All the Time, Home Cooking, The Lone Pilgrim, and A Big Storm Knocked It Over. She's still so popular that HarperPerennial has all her books in print to this day -- unheard of even for living writers. So stop by and help celebrate a great artist's legacy.

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