At the very hip Italian restaurant in Santa Monica called Giorgio, A-list stars chowed down with abandon last night — evidently uninvited or uninterested in the big party thrown in town by Phoenix Pictures' Mike Medavoy. Steven Spielberg and wife Kate Capshaw dined with comedian Martin Short and his wife. My sources tell me that the Spielbergs were very lovey-dovey in public, which is kind of nice considering all the couples we run into who aren't getting along.
Across the same dining room, a birthday party was taking place but not the run-of-the-mill sort at all. Julia Roberts, looking thin and not sampling much of Giorgio's delicious cuisine, was helping boyfriend Danny Moder celebrate with members of his family. The candled cake was intended for one of Danny's relatives, and Julia referred to the group as her "family."
But why is Moder still wearing his wedding ring? That's the question posed by the many inquiring minds who watched this familial fête. I don't know the answer to this, but Julia — who is one my favorite people in this peculiar town and knows her own mind better than anyone — has always had a strange relationship with rings. Last year at this time, when she was in the process of quietly ending her relationship with Benjamin Bratt, she was wearing what looked like wedding ring but what she called a friendship ring.
Maybe she just likes jewelry. You know, more often than not there are simple answers to these burning questions.
On the Friday of Golden Globe weekend, the Hollywood crowd came to town and gathered in various places for different reasons.
At a place called The Lot, near the old Warner Bros. studios in Hollywood, 400 stars and executives gathered to pay tribute to director Ted Demme, who died this week at age 38.
Matt Damon, a ponytailed Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, Mira Sorvino, Ben Stiller and pregnant wife Christine Taylor, Debbie Mazar and Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein were among the guests at the lengthy and tearful memorial service. Also present and accounted for was Ted's grieving uncle, director Jonathan Demme.
Comedian Denis Leary, whose career was tied to Ted's from the beginning, did a reportedly poignantly funny eulogy recalling Demme's many adventures. At one point Leary played the last phone message he received from Demme, at 2:30 pm the day he died. Demme invited Leary to a casual dinner at his home with wife Amanda after he finished playing basketball with Nick Cassavetes, Breckin Meyer, and Michael Rapaport.
What kind of legacy does the young talented director leave behind? He made one of the all time funniest comedies, The Ref, with Leary, Kevin Spacey, and Judy Davis. The Ref will stand the test of time. His other films — Blow, Beautiful Girls — will remain popular rentals.
And Demme, for better or worse, put Leary on the map by filming his MTV spots and comedy routines about smoking. He had a great eye, and good instincts. What a shame that we won't get to see what he would have done in his 40s and 50s. I have a feeling he would have emerged as an important voice.
Meantime, back in New York, Talk magazine finally expired after two and a half difficult years. I edited Talk's two Oscar issues and was preparing the third one for release this March. Although I didn't have a lot to do with the regular monthly magazine, I knew the people involved. They are a hard-working, talented group and deserved better than the slow death that was administered to them.
But how could Talk have survived? The magazine was the constant recipient of negative press, delivered largely by envious and mean so called "media journalists" who had hidden agendas most of the time. I cannot think of a time when a new magazine — just a magazine, mind you, not a presidential administration, a Mafia chief, a killer, or an embezzler — was scrutinized as if the world's future depended on it.
What idiots these so-called pundits were — in a time of decreased reading and advertising, didn't they know that killing off a new venue would only be harmful to themselves as well? Fewer publications means fewer readers, period. In a time when potential readers have fled to the Internet, videos, games, and other diversions, the publishing community should be rallying around anything new and promising. Instead, Talk was allowed to die a nasty death.
I am told that Hearst Publications, which co-owned Talk with Miramax and splits the $55 million debt that was incurred, was the main leaker of negative stories in an effort to get out of the co-ownership deal as quickly as possible. Their constant whining made finding new investors impossible. It also didn't help that some of the newer Talk insiders had the loosest of lips when it came to priority information. Now I suppose those same people will be chatting among themselves on the unemployment line.