Backstage at the Emmys | Fugees Superstar Rap Group: Surprise Reunion
Sharon Stone, Director: Backstage at the HBO Takeover of Hollywood
Newly-minted Emmy winner and feature-film movie star Sharon Stone has signed on to direct her first movie.
She's gotten Danny Bigel of Bigel Mailer Productions to option a highly-praised comic novel called "Never Change" by Elizabeth Berg. A script is almost finished, and when it's delivered Stone will commence calling in friends to come work for next to nothing on this independent film project.
This was just one of the tidbits I picked up as the only reporter backstage at the Emmy awards last night. I spent most of the evening in the "green room," where the stars who were set to perform on the show, as well as winners who passed through on their way to the big press-junket Q&A section, stopped in to say hello to friends and grab a beverage.
This all took place while HBO swept the Emmys like a forest fire, picking up 16 awards on Sunday night to add to the 16 it received earlier in the week at the technical Emmy ceremonies. The 32 awards is a record for one network.
Over the three-hour show, I ran into the lovely and intelligent Stone (who I think will make a terrific director), Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, all the "American Idol" principals — Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest — Kelsey Grammer (who fretted about his little comic "bit" with host Garry Shandling) and his wife Camille, Tom Selleck, William Petersen of "CSI" fame, William H. Macy, Treat Williams, Al Pacino, Billy Crystal, John Turturro, Laura Linney, Ellen DeGeneres with girlfriend Alexandra Hedison, Matt LeBlanc, Anjelica Huston with famed artist husband Robert Graham, plus Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O'Brien, Marlo Thomas beaming with the Bob Hope Award — I mean, the list went on and on.
It was like a huge A-list celebrity party, with people meeting each other for the first time in some cases and becoming fast friends while other old friends — like Ben McKenzie and Mischa Barton of "The O.C." jumping around a little impatiently until their pal Adam Brody showed up so they could practice their lines before going on stage.
Anjelica Huston and Simon Cowell, two people you'd never associate together, hit it off while grabbing a smoke. Bill Macy and Treat Williams, each of whom has played the same David Mamet character, chatted like crazy. Tony Shalhoub fretted about how to open a tin of breath mints (the lid wouldn't pop).
This much I did figure out: Cowell, despite being sued by "American Idol" owner Simon Fuller, will definitely be right back in the hot seat this winter when the show starts again. Don't even think he won't — that part of it is all publicity.
Nevertheless, there's starting to be some major grumbling about the fact that Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson are being paid way less than Simon for the same duties.
"You'd think the producers would realize this," an "AI" insider told me. Paula and Simon, apparently, are not faking their lack of felicity toward each other.
Meanwhile, Petersen continues to be an outspoken critic of series TV and CBS. He said the actors who left "CSI" this summer in a pay dispute are back, but still have no new contracts and that nothing's been resolved. He also told me that his own departure might have occurred had the actors not been returned to the show.
Petersen — a favorite of mine since his great movie "To Live and Die in L.A." — is a straight shooter. He tells it like it is, even when whatever that might be gives CBS honcho Les Moonves agita. And Moonves, he says, pursued him "for years" to do a series.
"They're not doing any promotion now for our show," he said of CBS. "You're just seeing ads for 'CSI: Miami.' And they're killing off a character over a pay dispute."
Petersen is in the fifth year of a seven-year contract with CBS, by the way, but there's no way of knowing if he'll sign an extension when the deadline comes — at least not from our conversation last night. And this criticism came despite the fact that he and his partner are executive producers of the show.
There were more unusual encounters during the night, including at the elegant Governor's Ball dinner that followed the show in the Shrine Auditorium ballroom, and even later at HBO's magnificent blow-out of a party at the Pacific Design Center (2,500 guests, including every major celeb of the evening).
That party was the Party of all Parties, in fact, eclipsing both TV Guide and "Entertainment Tonight"'s functions most embarrassingly. If you weren't under HBO's gargantuan red tent, you were no one on Sunday night.
Somewhere in there, Chris Rock and Mos Def approached the table of Broadway legend Elaine Stritch and asked to be introduced to her. They were, and she loved them.
In the Shrine, during the show, "Arrested Development" producer Brian Grazer was spotted talking to one of the cameramen during a break, readying him — say eavesdroppers — to get good shots of the producer and Ron Howard when "Arrested Development" won Best Comedy. Was he being prescient or did he know something?
There's more, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to hear how producer Brad Grey felt winning his first Emmy ever in his illustrious career, or what James Gandolfini did when someone (that would be me) complained he'd been robbed of his Emmy by another James — James Spader.
All I will tell you is that Kim Cattrall made just a brief appearance at the HBO after-party, leaving "Sex and the City" albums Parker, Cynthia Nixon (winners last night) and Kristen Davis to carry on without her, that Edie Falco turned in early after her surprise loss to Allison Janney of "The West Wing," and that the biggest commotion on the red carpet prior to the show starting was the appearance of Barbra Streisand.
But, as I said, more from the 2004 Emmy Awards tomorrow....
Fugees Superstar Rap Group: Surprise Reunion
It was meant to be a complete surprise, but I can tell you here first: The Fugees finally got back together last night.
The occasion was a taping of "Chappelle's Show" for Comedy Central.
The Fugees were the biggest deal of the mid-'90s, when Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill and Pras Michel had a mega-hit with a cover of Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly."
The Columbia Records album that contained the single, "The Score," went on to multi-platinum sales in 1996 and two Grammy Awards.
But the strained relationship between Jean and Hill meant that the group could not go on. Instead, Hill released "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," which went on to sell millions of copies and earn her a record number (5) of her own Grammys in 1998.
Wyclef Jean also started his own successful solo career, with albums like "Masquerade" and "The Ecleftic" and the hits "Gone 'Til November" and "911." He also wrote and produced Whitney Houston's "My Love Is Your Love."
Still, the pressure to get the Fugees back together in some form has been on Jean's mind for years. He's addressed it on several albums, including a very humorous song called "Where Fugee At?" on his "Ecleftic" album.
Hill, however, has always balked. Since her "Miseducation" album, she's released one acoustic record, considered a sales disappointment.
But sources tell me that feelers went out from the Jean camp to Hill while she was recording her new album, and finally a deal was struck.
The group — including third member Pras, who had his own big solo hit with "Ghetto Superstar" since the Fugees breakup — rehearsed over the last couple of days and the "vibing" was good from all accounts.
The group taped the Dave Chappelle show on Saturday around 7 p.m. No word yet on when the show will air, or whether this will lead to a Fugees album. ("Chappelle's Show" airs on Tuesdays at 10 on Comedy Central so it could be on as early as this week.)
If such an album would happen, expect to see Sony Music CEO Donnie Lenner dancing down Madison Avenue.