Mel Gibson showed his movie The Passion to a bunch of influential New Yorkers yesterday.
I was not one of them.
As he did in Washington and in a couple of other cities, Gibson showed the controversial film about Christ's final 12 hours to politicians and clergy who would not argue with his point of view.
Question-and-answer sessions after these screenings, according to one insider, have had more to do with the movie's length and whether Gibson will release it with subtitles. The version being shown has subtitles, but Gibson would prefer to release the movie in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek.
Everybody back to the classroom now! Agricola, etc.
Gibson's production company, Icon Entertainment, financed The Passion and so far the film, they say, has no distributor. But this is semantics. Icon has a distribution deal with 20th Century Fox, which, like Fox News, is owned by News Corp.
20th has a first-look option with Icon and right of refusal. They can also top another studio's bid. So, technically, The Passion right now is a 20th Century Fox film. Executives from that studio and others have now seen The Passion by the way, with 20th rumored to be very interested in the film.
But The Passion is not a finished film. Gibson is still editing his pet project, and responding to audience reaction. I don't know how much of that audience has disagreed with him. But reaction from the Washington screening, reported in The Washington Post and on the Drudge Report, was highly positive. This despite many advance reports that the film's script encouraged anti-Semitism in its depiction of the Jews as Jesus Christ's killer.
As of now, The Passion is supposed to be released for Easter 2004.
Who gets to be in a reading of a new play by America's greatest living dramatist? Only the very best actors the New York theatre world has to offer.
Last week, calls went to a select few that Arthur Miller was ready for the first reading of his new play, Finishing the Picture. Needless to say, everyone who was called hurried on over to the Harold Clurman Theatre.
Producer David Richenthal (Tony winner for Long Day's Journey Into Night) summoned the likes of Brian Dennehy, Kate Burton, Harris Yulin, Frank Langella, and Sam Robards. You can't do any better than that group, certainly. He also made a particular call to movie actor Scott Glenn, who opens this week in Miramax's black comedy, Buffalo Soldiers.
At Elaine's on Monday night for the Buffalo premiere -- where star Joaquin Phoenix, his sister Summer Phoenix, and her boyfriend Casey Affleck (brother of Ben) made appearances -- I had to pry the subject of the play out of Glenn. "It's about the making of The Misfits, Marilyn Monroe's last movie," Glenn said. "Marilyn is a character in the play but doesn't say much. Instead you have the director, the actors, Miller, everyone else reacting to her."
About 20 people were in the audience for this go-round, which is just as well: the 85-year-old writer notoriously doesn't like his work and is known to make immediate revisions.
As for Scott Glenn, he doesn't have to wait for the Miller play to coalesce.
He's got lots of other projects including a potential TV series and a couple of new movies after Buffalo Soldiers. He's also got some extra income to count on: his wife, Carol, a well-known potter, collagist, and painter was recently commissioned by Donna Karan herself to make a complete set of custom dinner ware.
"She's throwing pots right now," Glenn said, "which is why she couldn't be here."
Is Beyoncé becoming J-Lo? Or is J-Lo just inspiring Beyoncé? Either way, both the current issues of The Star and US Weekly each address that sizzling and important national debate in exactly the same way. Great minds thinking alike?
Or former US editor Bonnie Fuller moving to The Star? Hmmmm. This is Fuller's first week of overseeing The Star and boy oh boy, it looks like a mom has come into a dorm room and tidied up.
The frenzy-ish art direction has been all vacuumed away and replaced with sensible typefaces and easy to read blocks of type. J-Lo and Ben are on the cover, 'natch, since Fuller never goes anywhere without them. And there are multiple pictures of a pregnant Kate Hudson; the lucky kid is letting The Star chronicle her gestation.
Over at US Weekly, I'm afraid, it looks like the magic is over. Fuller's departure has already added an air of desperation to the headache-inducing glossy. Now there are no stories at all. And the cover thing about Angelina Jolie wanting Billy Bob back or vice versa is just insane. In one week, US has returned to its former schizophrenic jumble. What is it? Without Fuller, no one knows.
Also in US: Don't overlook the report that Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher were "dirty dancing" at the premiere of Charlie's Angels 2. Dirty dancing! Doesn't that mean a deux? As I told you three weeks ago, I stood about a foot from them, and he was as motionless as Lurch the butler from The Addams Family. But that wouldn't have sounded as good, would it?