Altman, Hayek Get Artsy | Busy Rosie  | Al Green's Back

Salma Hayek Will Paint the Town With Altman

Robert Altman, the seminally important director who still has no Oscar, is getting his next movie ready just as his most recent one is headed to theatres.

Even though “The Company” is just in line for release this month, Altman has got plans for his next one.

“It’s called 'Paint,'” he told me last week at Elaine’s where he and wife Kathryn dined with comic/actor Alan King. “Salma Hayek and James Franco are all set for it.”

In fact, “Paint” will be Altman’s big repertory take on the New York art world. Hayek will play a dealer and Franco a hot young artist.

Lots of real painters will be on screen, too, as well as dealers. Francisco Clemente and Brice Marden are already running lines, I’m told. Others who could turn up would be Robert Rauschenberg, Donald Sultan, Donald Judd, Frank Stella, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Mangold, Joel Shapiro, Julian Schnabel, Alex Katz, Eric Fischl, and so on.

The script for "Paint" was written by someone who should know, Jeffrey Lewis, who is the son-in-law of the great late painter and artist Robert Motherwell.

Of course, the one actor who has the best art collection going is Steve Martin. Knowing Altman, there’s a great part in there for him too.

Franco, meanwhile, has a smallish part in “The Company,” Altman’s movie about the ballet world starring Neve Campbell. The film opens Christmas Day. Shot in Chicago, “The Company” may set a record with 16 producers listed in the credits.

Rosie Testimony, B'Way Opening Will Coincide

On Thursday Nov. 13, Rosie O’Donnell will have to run from testifying in court to her Broadway show.

O’Donnell’s testimony in her lawsuit with magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr now looks as though it will begin after lunch on Thursday. Previews of “Taboo,” the Boy George musical she’s in charge of and has invested millions in, opens at 7:30 that night. I don’t think even Broadway legend David Merrick ever had to do that.

Meanwhile, the magazine trial is not going too well so far for the publisher who is suing her. And her own testimony looks like it will fall.

Gruner + Jahr, determined to keep going with public testimony, sounds like they may be running out of steam.

On the stand yesterday Susan Toepfer, the editor brought in by the company to run Rosie without O’Donnell’s permission, shed some light on how badly things went from the day she arrived.

Toepfer, who’d been eased out of People magazine before taking the job with G+J, indicated that from day one she did nothing to ingratiate herself with her new boss.

Toepfer testified that on her second day on the job she sent O’Donnell one choice for a cover featuring the talk show host and two cast members from "The Sopranos." O’Donnell, who always in the past had received several choices, was upset. Toepfer said she responded by sending her four choices subsequently, not indicating which were her own preferences.

O’Donnell inferred that Toepfer would accept any of them. She replied: “Either number three or number four is fine.” Toepfer retorted that in fact she liked neither of those herself. O’Donnell, flummoxed, stuck to her opinion.

It’s hard to imagine taking this course in one’s first week of work, but Toepfer, who still works for G+J now, didn’t seem to mind.

It was also revealed that shortly after her arrival she sent O’Donnell no fewer than 50 emails, spaced two to three minutes apart, in one day. This was her response when O’Donnell told her she wanted to be involved in decision making.

Toepfer also testified that she immediately cut O’Donnell’s on-the-scene rep, Heidi Safer, out of all meetings so she couldn’t report back to Rosie.

Tomorrow, all eyes will be on Gruner’s publisher, Dan Brewster, who whose testimony should begin in the afternoon.

Al Green: The Reverend Returns to Form

Mark Nov. 18 down in your calendar as a happy, happy day. That’s when the Reverend Al Green -- often capricious, frustrating, rude, greedy and lazy -- releases a phenomenal new album on Blue Note Records.

“I Can’t Stop” is the first Al Green album produced by the extremely legendary Willie Mitchell in, I believe, 27 years. The Hodges brothers, "Teenie" and Leroy -- are on board too. I can tell you from two intense listen-through’s that despite Al’s, uh, eccentricities over the years, this recording is like a cure-all for everything wrong in the world.

The title track is already on the Blue Note Web site and available for listening. The first time I heard it, my heart actually lifted. It’s that good.

I’ll tell you about the rest of the album -- which has a number of terrific blues cuts including one I just love called “My Problem is You” -- next week. All I know is, the 18th is shaping up as a Super Tuesday, with The Beatles, Cyndi Lauper, and others all launching at the same time!