Madonna's Movie Box Office Poison | Bruce Auctions Harley, Guitar | Dominick Dunne’s Toughest Week | Oscar Dearth: Fewest Films Ever
Madonna's Movie Box Office Poison
Forget Madonna's marital woes. Now no one wants to see her movie.
The Materially Divorcing Mom released her "Filth and Wisdom" directorial debut three weeks ago to the usual fanfare at New York's IFC Center. She's never been much of an actress, but Madonna did receive some positive notices for directing this feature starring members of the group Gogol Bordello.
Unfortunately, even New Yorkers didn't want to see it. So far, "Filth and Wisdom" has sold just over $18,000 in tickets since its release October 17th. Even worse, it's not even playing in New York. The strange film played in three theaters over the weekend: in Toronto, St. Louis, and Columbus, Ohio.
The three screens this past weekend was down from 10 the week before. In other words, Madonna's not going to be directing any major motion pictures any time soon.
But it's not like soon to be ex hubby Guy Ritchie is doing any better. His "RockNRolla" follows in a long line of box office busts for him. It's made $3 million since its release on October 8th. On Halloween, Warner Bros, increased its screens from 19 to 826. This didn't help much. On Sunday when the take for most movies is up, "RockNRolla" fell 28.7 percent.
Bruce Auctions Harley, Guitar
Another night, another charity event for Bruce Springsteen, rock’s mensch of mensches.
After playing dozens of solo acoustic gigs for Barack Obama in the last few weeks of the presidential campaign, Bruce showed up last night at "Stand Up For Heroes" and let his Harley Davidson, a guitar he’d just played and his leather jacket be auctioned off for a very good cause.
It was the second year in a row that ABC correspondent Bob Woodruff and his charming, beautiful wife, Lee, raised money for injured troops returning from the Iraq war. Andrew Fox and Caroline Hirsch once again helped this extraordinary couple organize the event to kick off New York Comedy Festival week.
Woodruff, as you may recall, was severely injured with Canadian cameraman Doug Vogt while covering the war near Baghdad on Jan. 29, 2006. He’s since recovered beautifully, as evidenced by his co-hosting duties last night at Town Hall at the star-studded event. He and Lee — who really needs her own talk show — joked about their just achieved 20th anniversary and Bob’s amazing rehabilitation.
They even got off a couple of jokes at the expense of Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the ruggedly handsome U.S. Army Chief of Staff. Casey was in the audience along with 40 or so returned troops, many of whom were badly hurt in the war.
Casey, they pointed out, had "excellent pecs" and "the best hair in the Army."
Our hero Regis Philbin was the official host, Whoopi Goldberg helped Sotheby’s Jamie Niven conduct the auction and there were stand up comedy routines by Ricky Gervais, Darrell Hammond and John Pinette.
But it was certainly Springsteen who wowed the A-list crowd including Tom and Meredith Brokaw, Dan Rather, ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas and husband Marc Cohn, Chris Cuomo, NBC’s Brian Williams, actors Chris Meloni and Joe Pantoliano, restaurateur Drew Nieporent, "Mad Men" actor John Slattery, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Jane Krakowski of "30 Rock," New York Giants star Justin Turk, and, of course, Joy Philbin.
But what a night as Springsteen gave them three songs on acoustic guitar and harmonica: "Promised Land," "Thunder Road" with wife Patti Scialfa on vocal harmonies, and such a rousing, pulsating version of "The Rising" that Whoopi Goldberg couldn’t stop imitating it aloud during the subsequent auction.
And the Boss told some jokes — like, a couple of off-color ones, batting .500 really. The success: about a dog who can only sleep through the night with a blue ribbon tied around his genitalia. Less promising was one about an amorous couple needing a flashlight during an encounter outdoors.
"The only jokes are the ones my band tells me," Bruce said by way of explanation. Well, after bolstering Obama for weeks, he needed to blow off a little steam. Better stick to the singing and playing, which Springsteen did even during the auction when he riffed "Johnny B. Goode" on his guitar. The instrument sold for $50,000.
Adding in his 1994 Harley combined with a leather jacket, which sold for $75,000 to a woman in the upper balcony, and Springsteen gave the Woodruffs’ charity a huge shot in the arm. Since last year, Springsteen auctioned off another Harley for $80,000 — to Robin Williams’ now ex-wife, Marsha — he noted that this may be it. "I’m cleaning out my garage," he quipped. (How many bikes does this guy have, anyway?)
And even though Ricky Gervais joked that no money would be made last night — "it’s all going to expenses" — it was quite the opposite. Lee Woodruff explained at the outset that she decided to save $1,500 on a rented teleprompter and just read her notes from index cards. Now, that’s a first!
Dominick Dunne’s Toughest Week
We’re saying prayers for journalist and raconteur Dominick Dunne. He’s enduring two big surgeries this week, one after another, after putting them off to cover the Phil Spector and O.J. Simpson trials this summer and the Princess Diana inquest in Paris.
Hospitalized, Dunne — who literally invented celebrity true crime reporting — missed his own party last night, too. The occasion was the DVD release of a wonderful documentary made about him called "Dominick Dunne: After the Party."
How he would have loved this gathering at the Plaza Hotel’s almost completely restored Oak Room put together by Peggy Siegal: Tina Brown and Harry Evans, famed literary novelist Ian McEwan, Kathryn Altman (widow of director Robert), Patricia Duff with Tony Peck, not to mention folks from Vanity Fair like PR director Beth Kseniak, and Dunne’s award-winning writer sister-in-law Joan Didion.
Tina Brown — whom Nick says in Kirsty De Garis and Timothy Jolley’s 85-minute film "discovered" him some 25 years ago — read a note to the guests before dinner from the missing host explaining his absence. But it wasn’t quite the same after having just seen Nick on film wend his way around the world.
There are numerous poignant moments in "After the Party," including Dunne’s reminiscence of his late wife, Lenny, and of their daughter, Dominique, whose murder inadvertently launched his late career as journalist. The author of "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" and "An Inconvenient Woman" also speaks for the first time about his parents, particular his difficult father.
It’s all fascinating because the filmmakers just let Dunne talk. He can make just about any subject seem urgent. In this case, the topic is him! You could listen to him for hours.
Dominick Dunne has been our modern Dickens, and while he’s been a commercial, not literary success — this is discussed in the film — that doesn’t diminish his contribution to modern American letters. His friends are very concerned about him now and I think angry he waited so long to let his doctors get to work. In the end, maybe, this episode will just be more juicy grist for the mill. I can’t wait to read about it in Vanity Fair.
Oscar Dearth: Fewest Films Ever
Thanks to the Writers Guild strike, the threatened SAG strike and various bits of infighting, this may be the scariest Oscar year yet.
With just seven weeks left till the end of the year, it seems that there are only a handful of movies with enough pedigree to be considered for serious running in the Academy Awards races.
This, course, is different for the Golden Globes or National Board of Review, where anything that has a major star in it is considered eligible.
For the more discerning Motion Picture Academy, though, these are the titles being bandied about.
The list, in absolutely no particular order: "Australia" (Baz Luhrmann) from Fox; "Slumdog Millionaire" (Danny Boyle), Fox Searchlight; "The Reader" (Stephen Daldry), Weinstein Company; "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (David Fincher), Paramount; "Revolutionary Road" (Sam Mendes), also Paramount; "Doubt" (John Patrick Shanley), Miramax; "Rachel Getting Married" (Jonathan Demme), Sony Pictures Classics; "Milk" (Gus Van Sant), Universal Focus; "Frost/Nixon" (Ron Howard), Focus.
That’s nine films — possibly the smallest number ever from which to choose most of the major nominees. Keep in mind that several of them still haven’t been seen by anyone, anywhere yet — "Australia," "The Reader," "Revolutionary Road" and "Benjamin Button" being the most glaring cases.
Of course, there are a few loose ends, like Penelope Cruz in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," Richard Jenkins in "The Visitor," Kristin Scott Thomas in "I’ve Loved You So Long" or Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler." Sally Hawkins has her fans from "Happy-Go-Lucky," as well. There are also strong feelings for Melissa Leo in "Frozen River," even though the film’s small scale is more likely to garner it Indie Spirit Award nominations.
From what I’m told, Oscar campaigners and publicists are already scrambling since many of the films on this short list have overlaps among actors and other creative types.