'Passion' of the 'Fahrenheit'?

Gibson and Moore | PR Wars | Bob Balaban

'Passion' of the 'Fahrenheit'?

Could it be?

In some people's minds, Michael Moore and Mel Gibson have become one. Call it a marriage made in heaven and hell. OK, just hell.

I am told that some representative of the Golden Globes has asked Moore and Gibson to present an award together at this year's ceremonies. The offer is out there on the table, but there's no word on whether it will happen.

Imagine the left-wing director of "Fahrenheit 9/11" and the right-wing director of "The Passion of the Christ" coming out onto the stage at the Beverly Hilton, arms linked, ready to tell jokes. It's so crazy it's genius.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is not alone in trying to arrange this kind of rare duet.

Yesterday, the National Board of Fans, er, Review, gave the two movies one of their made-up awards to see if the filmmakers would come, and if their respective film companies would buy them $4,500 tables.

The new award is called "Special Recognition of Films That Reflect the Freedom of Expression." This sounded better than the "We Dare You to Show Up" award or the "You Made So Much Money Why Not Give Some To Us?" award.

My advice: Do the Globes and skip the Board of Review. But who knows? Gibson and Moore may wind up doing a speaking tour together. Stranger things have happened.

Opie Pulls the PR Plug

No, it's not fair to call Ron Howard "Opie," but it makes a good headline, no?

Of course, if he still had a publicist this morning, he or she would be calling and complaining.

But at the end of last week, Ron Howard, his partner Brian Grazer and their Imagine Films company dropped their longtime association with Hollywood's powerhouse firm PMK.

Howard and Grazer were not alone. In the last week or so, Woody Allen, Conan O'Brien and mega-producer Scott Rudin have also cut their ties to PMK.

The word is that director Mike Nichols — if he weren't recovering from back surgery — would have done the same by now too.

The reason is simple: On November 19, PMK's longtime chief, Pat Kingsley, fired her longtime No. 2, Leslee Dart.

Well, "fired" is the wrong word. Dart was told her contract wasn't being renewed — and to get out.

Kingsley, 71, said she did not want to retire and turn the company over to Dart, who'd been there for 23 years.

Dart, who has many more clients than just those named here, is now presumably fielding calls from prospective investors and partners. She did not return my calls yesterday. But after Harvey Weinstein, Leslee Dart is the second-most-wanted investment in town today.

But here's a little spin from the PMK side: A source there wanted to point out that the company has 400 clients, that the ones who left were not really clients at all but that the agency worked with them movie-by-movie, with the studios footing the bills.

"Woody hasn't been a paying client in a long time," said the source.

It was Dart who got Allen through his infamous child-custody scandal with Mia Farrow in 1992.

So stay tuned. It looks like 2005 is going to be the year of living dangerously in Hollywood flack circles.

But make no mistake: Pat Kingsley, who's been on top so long she knew Marilyn Monroe, isn't going quietly into that good night just yet. She's got game, and that's reassuring.

Bob Balaban Doesn't Do Rap

Last night's first televised broadcast of the Gotham Awards was hosted by actor-writer-director Bob Balaban.

Unfortunately, no one at the IFP East, the show's producer, thought enough to send a car for him. So Balaban and his wife, writer Lynn Grossman, drove down to Chelsea Piers in their own car and parked it in the parking lot.

"We weren't going to take a cab," Grossman laughed.

On the way down, the very amusing couple took some time to rewrite Balaban's lines for the show, which had been provided by a writer.

What we were saved from seeing, consequently, was Balaban rapping with Grandmaster Flash and using the word "bling."

"That wasn't going to happen," Bob said dryly.

The couple made it the sports complex in time to hand the changes to the TelePrompter person, who did his best to insert them.

The Balabans were the lucky ones. Several times during the night, presenters went off the prepared text, and it was just as well. Some people sitting near the rolling printed screen winced when they read what wasn't said.

Among those I ran into: Cuba Gooding Jr., who just finished a film called "Shadowboxer" with Helen Mirren. It's the directorial debut of Lee Daniels, a popular producer and casting director.

"Helen plays my mother and my lover," Cuba said.

Well, I guess we know Paramount won't be the distributor.

Ethan Hawke arrived with Julie Delpy and told me how much he's looking forward to doing "Hurlyburly" on stage soon here in New York. Wally Shawn, Bobby Cannavale, Josh Hamilton and Catherine Kellner are also cast in David Rabe's famous ensemble play, which means this will be the hot, hot ticket come opening day on Jan. 25.

Some other names bouncing around: Thomas Haden Church, of "Sideways," accepting kudos on his NBR win earlier; Jim Carrey saying he'd love to do another Lemony Snicket movie and is already talking about a sequel; "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" writer Charlie Kaufman saying he's working on a new screenplay that Spike Jonze will direct; Sophie Okonedo of "Hotel Rwanda" looking glamorous, off to Los Angeles for the film's premiere there.

Also: "Vera Drake" director Mike Leigh, Matt Dillon presenting the Best Actor award to Don Cheadle; ThinkFilms chief Mark Urman basking in the glow of "Primer," which he wisely bought at Sundance; Griffin Dunne; everyone from "Maria Full of Grace"; and hot young actor Anthony Mackie, who just picked up a Spirit nomination for his work in "Brother to Brother."

Michael Moore was a no-show, which was just as well. He was beaten in the documentary category by Jonathan Demme's "The Agronomist." Moore received a Filmmaker's Award in absentia.

Most everyone walked away happy from the Gotham Awards, but one person who didn't — and had a right to not be — was Mario Van Peebles.

Despite picking up three Independent Spirit nominations this week for his excellent film, "Baadasssss!," Van Peebles feels he is not getting studio support.

Sony Pictures Classics, he told me, has decided not to shell out the requisite $15,000 to send out DVDs of his film to Academy members.

I'm going to assume there has been a miscommunication. "Baadasssss!" was one of the most innovative, well-crafted and moving films of the year. It would be a terrible oversight if it vanished right now.

Please, SPC, do the right thing: Give "Baadasssss!" the campaign it deserves. Forgetting it completely would be criminal.