Michael Jackson | Woody Allen | 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' | 'Sometimes in April'
Jackson Accuser's Dean Subpoenaed
I'm told that Jeffrey Alpert, the former dean of Burroughs Middle School in Los Angeles, has been subpoenaed by the defense in the Michael Jackson case.
We had it first: Neverland in Jeopardy
It came out in court Monday that when the accuser in the case returned to school in March 2003, Alpert interviewed him about his relationship with Jackson. The boy told the dean that nothing had happened, twice.
Alpert, who is now at Hollywood High School, will be a key defense witness. He has no ulterior motives or hidden agenda for helping either side, and can give testimony as a witness who has had countless similar conversations with teens the same age as the accuser.
During "redirect" this week, the boy testified that he lied to the dean because he'd been harassed by his friends.
At some point, the boy may also have to answer a new point that's come up, thanks to The Smoking Gun.
The Web site has obtained an interview evaluation of the boy performed by Dr. Stan Katz, the Beverly Hills psychiatrist who was referred the case by attorney Larry Feldman.
Feldman and Katz worked together on the 1993 case concerning Jackson. During his interview, the boy in the current case mentioned the name of the boy in the '93 case, which suggests that he knew the details of that case.
Interestingly, many of the accusations in the new case parrot the old one almost verbatim. For example, the newer accuser and his mother both complained that Jackson would suddenly like everything the accuser liked, including colors and movies.
In the 1993 case, it was charged that the exact same thing occurred. Jackson, who is ordinarily known for his particularity, was said to suddenly like everything that boy preferred as well.
A Jackson insider scoffed at this report.
"It's the other way around. The kids suddenly want to like everything Michael does," the source said.
In any case, we're headed into another pay week at Neverland come Monday. Will there be enough in the till to pay the staff?
I'm told there is a videotape out there showing Randy Jackson's lawyer Brian Oxman shouting into a cell phone, complaining about lack of funds in the Jackson camp.
All Michael has to do is sign the existing deal that would bail him out, but he won't do it.
Woody Allen's Slow Climb Back
Woody Allen's last few films have not been so good, despite his enormous library of beloved classics. Well, everyone has fallow periods, and Woody's no exception.
His new film, "Melinda and Melinda," opens today in New York, in Los Angeles next Friday and then around the country.
Radha Mitchell, a stunningly beautiful and talented actress, plays the dual roles of Melinda in the half-drama, half-comedy that's recounted by four people sitting around a café table.
The comedy part, of course, is the more successful of the two concurrent stories. Will Ferrell is perfect as Mitchell's love interest, and there are exceptional performances by Brooke Smith, British-Nigerian actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (the first-ever black man in a Woody Allen film to have a storyline and dialogue) and Chloë Sevigny.
The film also looks very good, thanks to legendary cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, working with Allen for the first time, and Allen stalwart production designer Santo Loquasto.
Zsigmond had an incredible run in the 1970s with "McCabe and Mrs. Miller," "The Last Waltz," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "The Deer Hunter" and even the beautiful (but doomed) "Heaven's Gate."
Where is Woody's head at these days? Hard to say.
"Melinda and Melinda," which resembles "Sliding Doors" in many ways, is a vast improvement over his recent efforts. It seems like Woody's concentration has returned, which may be the result of not making a movie every 15 minutes.
Ferrell is a real find for him, and Mitchell could very well get an Oscar nomination next winter. Here's hoping the Woodman is back on track, and that the next one — called "Match Point" and starring Scarlett Johansson — will be even better.
'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' Family Connection
In a strange twist, a movie is going to be made by a director who has lived his own mystery.
Matthew Vaughn, husband of model Claudia Schiffer and producer of movies by Guy Ritchie, as well as director of "Layer Cake," has signed to direct the big-screen version of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."
Ironically, actor Robert Vaughn played Agent Napoleon Solo in the TV show some 40 — believe it or not — years ago.
Matthew grew up thinking Robert was his father. But a few years ago, he discovered this was a lie and that his biological dad was a minor diplomat.
Vaughn changed his legal name to Drummond after the real father. He and the elder Vaughn have been on the outs since then.
Talk about a publicity hook!
Still, Vaughn and producer John Davis must now cast the key roles of Solo, a suave American; Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum in the original series), an even suaver Russian and agency chief Mr. Waverly (originally Leo G. Carroll).
You know that Daniel Craig, a Vaughn favorite, is destined to play Ilya, with an accent. How about Clive Owen as Napoleon and Albert Finney as Mr. Waverly? Just saying.
Anyway, Vaughn will have a lot of issues to wrestle with, especially if the original actors are asked back for cameos, as is the tradition in these things.
The whole business sounds like "Alias," doesn't it?
In the meantime, there's legal trouble brewing for "Man from U.N.C.L.E.," as the owners of the TV series rights are at odds with Warner Brothers over what kind of movie this should be — like "Mission: Impossible," i.e. nothing like the TV series, or a blow-up of the original.
Let's hope they stick to the original. We don't want to see Vin Diesel and Colin Farrell in this flick, that's for sure.
Saturday Night Movie Pick
Set your TiVos or whatever for HBO tomorrow night. Do not miss Raoul Peck's "Sometimes in April" starring the too-rarely-seen Debra Winger.
Even though I loved "Hotel Rwanda," this film about the 1994 genocide is equally affecting and beautifully told.
"April" will absolutely win the Emmy come September for best made-for-TV movie. You might as well get in on the ground floor and see it now. Bravo!