Lisa Marie Presley | Kevin Kline | John Travolta
Lisa Knocks Cage, Jacko
I'd like to say Lisa Marie Presley should have her head examined. But she can't, since she doesn't believe in psychiatry. I mean, she really doesn't believe in it.
On her album, which will be released next Tuesday, Presley even sings the whole title track about this. The song, "To Whom It May Concern," is a screed about psychotropic drugs being bad for kids. ("When there's something wrong take an antidepressant. You can even choose which kind you want by the latest suicide.")
Of course, this is the position of the Church of Scientology, of which Presley is an adherent: They are anti-psychiatry and anti-medication. They would rather be the cure for what ails you.
You'd think Rolling Stone, which has Lisa Marie on its new cover and has promoted the heck out of this fact, would have asked Presley about some of this in the story. In fact, the writer of the 8,000-word piece glosses over it, as well as the fact Presley's Web site promotes a charity called the Citizen's Commission on Human Rights, or CCHR. The initials make it seem like Creedence Clearwater Revival, or Contemporary Hits Radio.
In fact, this is Scientology. There are 23 registered non-profit chapters of CCHR, and their purpose, besides lobbying and promoting Scientology, seems to be to raise money for the group. On their tax filings, CCHR chapters spend lavish amounts on promotion and press, paying consultants far more than the charity's local directors.
I had to laugh, too. In the Rolling Stone piece, there are not one but two references to Beck -- his album is playing in the background during the interview, and later Presley is at his house until the wee hours of the morning. Beck is a well-publicized Scientologist, who proselytizes the "religion" with zeal.
Writer Chris Heath could have asked Lisa Marie if she only listens to Scientologists or goes to their parties based on this information. After all, that's why some people think it's a cult.
Presley does break with Scientology philosophy, which says we shouldn't blame others for our mistakes. To get publicity for her album, she turns on Michael Jackson and blames him for their highly publicized bad marriage. She even sends Heath lyrics to a song not on the album that imply Jackson is "masturbative." (There's a word you won't find in any other pop song.) The song, "Disciple," is not even on the album. But Rolling Stone's press release about their article would make you think it's there.
Yet Presley manages to use Jackson throughout the article in order to promote herself. She also takes a swipe at her most recent ex, Nicolas Cage, in the song "Gone": "Turned out to be a coward. When I turned my back, you cut my throat it bled for hours. Was that your power...You with the advisors in your ear. You did everything right it's clear. I know I begged you to stay around. But I'm gone now. Well, here's to you my darling leave. You're stubborn and you're free and of course, right. I don't respect the way you leave. You can be no friend to me."
Presley says in the article this will probably be her only album, and she will most likely go back to being a recluse. It may not be such a bad idea.
As for Rolling Stone, well, I don't know why I expected more. They've taken their whole journalistic legacy and flushed it away, it seems. All that good reporting down the drain.
Kevin Kline Surprises Broadway Audience
In front of a star-studded audience last night, Oscar and Tony winner Kevin Kline pulled off a big surprise.
He was the first mystery guest in The Play What I Wrote, a hysterical new comedy that premiered last night at the Lyceum Theatre.
The show, a British import, features a pair of brilliant British comedians with boundless energy--Hamish McColl and Sean Foley -- and their sidekick, Toby Jones. The show has some pedigree, too. It's produced by Mike Nichols and directed by Kenneth Branagh.
If last night's premiere was any indication, the Lyceum should be sold out for the entire nine-month run. The Play What I Wrote is absolutely the perfect tonic for our grim time -- side-splittingly funny from beginning to end. McColl and Foley have Americanized the references just enough so that everyone at the New York show will get the jokes without any trouble.
Kline's participation marks the first of many "name" actors who will take the role of Mystery Guest Star in the second act. With Nichols' connections alone, expect to see Meryl Streep, Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, and so on.
The names are kept under strict lock and key until the day of the show. The prop master, Abe Morrison, whom I met last night, told me he's in a constant state of bartering on eBay to find all the whimsical items needed to put on the frantic show.
In last night's audience, though, the A-list was sitting cheek by jowl: Caroline Kennedy and husband Ed Schlossberg sat two rows on the aisle behind Caroline's aunt, Lee Radziwill. People sitting around them were a little taken aback that the two women barely exchanged a word all night. But Caroline looked great and told me her book about patriotism -- much needed right now, the book that is -- hits stores in May. Not a moment too soon.
Between the aunt and niece there was legendary photographer Richard Avedon, Walter Cronkite and his wife Betsy, former Vanity Fair star editor Tina Brown, her successor editor Graydon Carter (deeply tanned -- he must have a southern exposure at 4 Times Square), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind star Sam Rockwell, Caroline Rhea, playwright Douglas Carter Beane, WOR Radio star Joan Hamburg, not to mention Billy Crystal, Diane Sawyer (Mrs. Mike Nichols for the night), Charles Gibson of Good Morning America, comedian Eddie Izzard, Marisa Berenson, director Joel Schumacher, Chicago producer Marty Richards, Lincoln Center chief Bernie Gersten, the indomitable Isabelle Stevenson (she runs the Tony's), author/photographer Jill Krementz, novelist Rona Jaffe and singer Kim Garfunkel.
We got to meet Michael Palin, of the Monty Python troupe, who was there to support Kline (they were famously in A Fish Called Wanda together). He noticed a little Python-esque ribaldry in the Play presentation.
"I did see some silly walks in there," Palin observed. Despite the conflicts around the globe, by the way, Palin heads off for another one of his National Geographic journeys, this time to the Himalayas, in May. Is he worried about traveling?
"You always worry before you leave. Then you get there and see there was nothing to worry about," he said.
Kline, by the way, got almost no rehearsal time, he said, for his cameo performance. The special section of the play has to be re-written every four days or so to accommodate the new mystery guest. In London, Sting, Ralph Fiennes and Jerry Hall all took a crack at it. And while Kline was a sensation, in the end it's the two main guys -- McColl and Foley -- who are just the medicine we need right now.
Travolta's Career Staying Alive?
Meanwhile, John Travolta, whom Presley cites as the guy who got her into Scientology, registered another box office bomb over the weekend.
Basic, the latest mess from the two-time Academy Award nominee (Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction), will be lucky to have hit $12 million Monday. It took in $2 million less in its opening weekend than Travolta's last stiff, Domestic Disturbance, which came out 18 months ago.
Since Travolta gets a minimum of $20 million per picture excluding perks, someone is in a lot of trouble. When they have a nut that big, producers like to make at least the star's salary back in the first weekend. Especially when the film has been panned.
We can throw this one on the same fire that also includes Swordfish, Mad City, General's Daughter, Primary Colors, Lucky Numbers and, of course, the big blowout of Battlefield Earth.
You'd have to go back to 1997 to find Travolta's last box office hit, Face/Off, which, ironically, co-starred Nicolas Cage. His next movie, Ladder 49, from the same screenwriter as Domestic Disturbance (it was such a hit, why not try it again!), started shooting this week.
This time the lucky studio is Disney. Previous short straw winners have been Paramount, Warner and Sony.
I would love to sit in a room full of accountants from all these studios and hear them swap stories about how they hid the Travolta losses from their respective stockholders. Now that would be a movie!