Three Hollywood Stars Vie for Role

Holly Hunter, Gillian Anderson and Heather Graham | Daily News Finks Out | Eileen Heckart

Three Hollywood Stars Vie for Role

Not so many juicy movie roles for women? There are three actresses who'd disagree with us on that score.

Right now, even as we speak, three of Hollywood's best-known women are fighting for the right to play poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Whoever wins is likely to have an Oscar nomination in her future, because Millay is the juiciest part to come along in a long, long time.

Holly Hunter, Gillian Anderson and Heather Graham are the three women in competition to buy the rights to Nancy Milford's best-selling, highly praised biography of Millay called Savage Beauty. Milford, whose other great tome is Zelda, the biography of Zelda Fitzgerald, spent about 25 years working on this amazing book. She had access to Millay's papers, letters and consequently innermost thoughts. The result is that Savage Beauty is, I am told, a nominee for the Pulitzer Prize this April.

Interestingly, all three actresses have made contact with Milford through her agent, Lynn Nesbit, each with different production companies and financing behind them. They have each either spoken to Milford directly or met with her. I do not know if that helped or hindered their efforts.

Millay's story is set in the 1930s, and it's quite glamorous for a poet. Her love affairs were tempestuous and numerous, with both sexes. You might call her the Madonna of her day, refusing to live within any boundaries or adhere to social mores.

Expect more actresses to turn up in this lottery before long. I do know that a number of other likely names, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett, are possible candidates for playing Millay as well.

As for directors, it's just my humble opinion, but if I were Anthony Minghella (The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley), I'd be running to nail this one down. 

Daily News Finks Out

Boy, what a shock to read that the New York Daily News has shut down Mitchell Fink's gossip column due to "budgetary reasons." I always knew something was wrong with that paper, but this takes the cake.

The Daily Snooze, as it is referred to, has never understood what gives a tabloid its life. Believe me, people aren't going there for their bin Laden updates or analyses. The New York Post understands this, which is what makes it such a lively, must-read paper.

Just in case the folks over there didn't get it, Fink — like Rush & Molloy — drives readers into their slumbering slab of newsprint. Mitchell had a staggering homerun record, with lots of page one stories and many important news breaks. I've no doubt he'll turn up somewhere quickly (USA Today, are you listening?) and resume hitting 'em out of the park.

Eileen Heckart, Mary's Aunt Flo

I was so knocked out by the untimely death on Monday of my friend, Julia Phillips, that I didn't get a chance to write about Eileen Heckart. The award-winning actress also died on Monday, at age 82.

Heckart is another one of those timeless classics and effortlessly classy actors whose work will live on. Like a lot of people I knew her first as Mary Richards' feisty Aunt Flo on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But Heckart had a long and rich career on the stage and in films. Her most recent success was off Broadway in a play called The Waverly Gallery. She also won an Oscar in 1972 for her role in the movie Butterflies Are Free. She will be sorely missed.