Partying 'After Sunset'

'After Sunset' | Michael Jackson | Jay-Z and R. Kelly

Partying 'After Sunset'

Either John Kerry hasn't decompressed yet or he’s just a glutton for punishment, but the former Democratic nominee says wants to run for president again.

That was the word last night from his old friend, Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, a 28-year congressman who might have succeeded Kerry in the Senate had the presidential election tuned out differently. Markey was a guest last night at the big Mardi Gras party thrown for the New Line film "After the Sunset."

Markey said he spoke to Kerry for about 20 minutes a few days ago and reported that the senator is in good spirits.

"He wants to run again," Markey said while a Mardi Gras marching band called Junkanoo played a wild oompa-pa-pa version of Sam Cooke's "Cupid."

"This is hell," Salma Hayek, one of the movie's stars, shouted over the din.

In Brett Ratner's breezy comedy thriller, a very sexy Hayek plays opposite Pierce Brosnan as a jewel thief couple who plan one more diamond heist before facing retirement. Woody Harrelson, back after a five or six year absence, is the FBI agent who tracks them to a resort in the Bahamas. Naomie Harris makes a very impressive debut as the local cop who falls for Woody while tracking Pierce and Salma.

"This is the first time I've seen the movie as a whole," Salma told me. "I had no idea there was going to be so much concentration on my body."

I told her, no one will object. I also asked her about her boyfriend situation. It seemed like a minute ago that she was with Edward Norton, then Josh Lucas, and now?

"It wasn't so fast," Salma said. "I was with Edward four years and then no one, and then Josh for a year."

And now?

"Now I'm with Penelope Cruz shooting a movie way out in Mexico. No boyfriends," she said.

Salma’s new project, “Bandidas” — a sort of Latina “Thelma and Louise” — is one of five projects following “After the Sunset.” The big one, however, is called “Ask the Dust” and is written and directed by Robert Towne. The film should bring Salma back to the Oscars in 2006.

And what about the other stars of "After the Sunset?" Brosnan, who has seemingly been booted from the James Bond series, gets to do a lot of Bond-like stuff in this movie. So much so, in fact, that director Ratner was interviewed by Tom Cruise to take over "Mission: Impossible 3."

Brosnan didn't have a lot to say about "Sunset."

“It was a good paycheck," he said.

It's the Irish sense of humor, you know.

Harrelson, sporting an FBI baseball cap, came to the party with a couple of friends, one of whom was wrapped like Charlie Brown's Pig Pen in a cloud of smoke — naturally. Woody, as everyone knows, publicly speaks about the good uses for hemp. It's nice to know he practices what he preaches. The first thing he did at the party is offer tequila shots to his close buddies, who toasted his return to movies.

"I took a few years off and it was the best thing I ever did," Woody told me.

Now he's also got five new projects going as well as a documentary about activism that he stars in called "Go Further."

As for Ratner, what you don't know about this 35-year-old wunderkind is that his own life would make a pretty good movie. He was raised in Miami by a well-liked single mother. She was so well-liked, in fact, that several family friends stepped in as surrogate dads, including famed Miami attorney Al Malnik, record executive Seymour Stein, Florida businessman Al Rosenstein and several others. Brett is the apple of their eye, to use an old expression. You never see so many people kvelling in one room over a success.

You also never saw so many beautiful young women flocking into one corner, surrounding the teddy-bearish Brett as if he were The Beatles, Justin Timberlake and a carb-free Balance bar all rolled into one.

And yes, this is the same Brett Ratner who could very well be a major witness in the Michael Jackson trial next January, directed many of the former King of Pop’s videos as well as “Rush Hour,” “Rush Hour 2” and “Hannibal.” He's at the center of several storms, but it looks like he's going to weather them without too much difficulty. Next up is “Rush Hour 3” — maybe.

Jacko-Aaron Carter Story Doesn't Jibe

There's a little fallout from Access Hollywood's big "scoop" the other day regarding Michael Jackson. Teen singer Aaron Carter's mother, Jane, told the syndicated show that she was very concerned last year when 15-year-old Aaron stayed overnight at Neverland following Michael's 45th birthday party.

Well, not exactly. Michael's birthday celebration was held at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles on Aug. 30, 2003. Access Hollywood was actually there and filmed it, but somehow all that got lost in translation. If Carter had been there, he was not caught on camera by the paparazzi.

Jane Carter, who's been on the outs with her son for several months and no doubt received compensation for her story, may have been confused about the dates and events. Her two sons, Aaron and Nick, were at Neverland on Sept. 13, 2003, for a charity fundraiser. That event resulted in Neverland being jammed with guests, lots of kids, parents and Jackson family members. One insider who was there told me she remembers Carter, but finds it unlikely that there was an opportunity for him to spend time alone with Jackson.

Calls to Jane Carter and her husband, Robert, were not returned.

Jay-Z and R. Kelly Fans Flee

The Jay-Z and R. Kelly album "Unfinished Business" is now officially a bust. The album dropped from No. 1 to somewhere around No. 11 — with a nasty 70 percent decline in sales – after only one week. The album sold a measly 66,000 copies in its second week.

Of course, the controversial rapper and R&B star have been feuding publicly about their tour, so maybe the bad vibes filtered out to the CD buying fans. It just disproves the old adage that all publicity is good publicity. Also, their fans may finally have caught on and given up.

If only the same would happen to Avril Lavigne. Her caterwauling on yesterday's “Good Morning America” was a painful reminder that if we somehow survived Vanessa Carlton, Fiona Apple and Natalie Imbruglia, then this, too, shall pass.