The star-studded New York premiere of Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" last night was without Tarantino. It was also without Ethan Hawke, husband of star Uma Thurman, the same Ethan Hawke whom Tarantino told at a party back in 2000 when he was mapping this project, "I had a dream about you last night."
At least the big screening at the Ziegfeld went over like a dream, with the wildly enthusiastic audience applauding mid-movie, stomping and whistling.
"Kill Bill" is a crowd-pleaser, that's for sure, even if it does use the most amount of Max Factor fake blood possibly in the history of cinema.
Thurman, looking the part of a gorgeous 1930s movie star in a flowing gown, arrived with family members and agents, sans her estranged husband. She posed for pictures but didn't do much in the way of interviews. A little awkward, all things considered.
Daryl Hannah, who makes her comeback in "Kill Bill" after a lull in her career, was accompanied by veteran director Peter Bogdanovich. She told me her favorite of all her films is now "Blade Runner" -- not "Wall Street," "Splash," or even "Steel Magnolias." "I love action films," she said. "I like it when the action is very stylized."
Hannah has recently become a favorite of director John Sayles, starring in the current "Casa de Los Babys" and filming his next one, "Silver City." "All of a sudden I have a lot of work," she said, incredulously. Well, why not?
Hannah, by the way, did tell me that despite recent press mentions of her environmentally friendly autos, she still does drive a classic, gas-guzzling Buick Skylark. "But I'm thinking of having it converted" so it can run on more efficient, ecologically sound fuel, she said.
At the screening, Hannah's insistence on sticking to Bogdanovich didn't win her much support from Tatum O'Neal, though. O'Neal has known the director since she was a child and he directed her to an Oscar in "Paper Moon." But every time she tried to greet him at the theatre, O'Neal felt thwarted by Hannah.
"He doesn't leave her side for a second," she grimaced. At last the director and star did reunite, though.
Besides its cast and crew (like Lucy Liu, David Carradine, samurai film star and expert Sonny Chiba, producer Lawrence Bender and hip-hop composer RZA), "Kill Bill" pulled quite a crowd of stars. Among them Julianne Moore with husband Bart Freundlich, famed director/writer Paul Schrader, Sylvia Miles, producer Ismail Merchant, actor Matthew Modine with wife Cari and son Boman, comic Jon Lovitz, and "Lost in Translation" director Sofia Coppola.
Wisely, none of that gang dealt with the after-party, where hundreds filled the Noche nightclub on Broadway very quickly, alerting the fire marshal and shutting the place down quickly. Thurman herself cut out in short order; her agent, Bryan Lourd, said: "We're going somewhere for a quiet drink."
As for Tarantino, apparently he was sidelined in Los Angeles by some kind of illness that prevented him from flying in. Too bad, too, because he would have really enjoyed the audience's favorable response to "Kill Bill." It will be interesting to see how this very hip film plays on Friday when it opens against Clint Eastwood's more conventional "Mystic River" and the Coen Brothers' offbeat "Intolerable Cruelty."
Are women over 40 an endangered species on TV? It's not looking too good for them lately.
Yesterday it was announced that Channel 2 News in New York had sacked the immortal and wonderful Penny Crone. Can you believe it? The gravel-voiced Crone is one of the best street reporters in the history of local news. She was a fixture on Fox 5 here in New York for two decades, then jumped to the CBS affiliate with the lure of more money a couple of years ago. But Crone is an older woman on TV, and that means she's out. (To be honest, no one even knows who's at Channel 2 anyway.)
Penny's in good company. In recent months here in New York, equally fine newshounds (to paraphrase Ted Baxter) Michelle Marsh, Jane Hanson, and Diana Williams have each been downgraded or dumped by their stations. Smart and beautiful, they are all obviously considered too old -- and therefore too intelligent -- to continue broadcasting the news to us. Local producers obviously feel it's easier to absorb endless reports of tigers in apartments and stabbings in the Bronx from younger, peppier types.
The joke, of course, is that the new newscasters here in New York endlessly mispronounce names of villages, towns, and politicians. But hey, they're young and they're learning -- they don't have to get it right!
Women of a certain age are also having the same problem on daytime soap operas, where just about all the remaining shows have ditched their longtime heroines for snappy new chippies. Jackie Zeman, Leslie Charleson, and Kristina Wagner have all but disappeared from "General Hospital." Emmy winner Julia Barr has been relegated to two lines a month if she's lucky on "All My Children."
Maureen Garrett, the most tenured actress on "Guiding Light," is also out. And really mature ladies, like Liz Hubbard and Eileen Fulton of "As the World Turns," have simply vanished into the ether. The worst though by far: news that the effervescent Suzanne Rogers, who's been with "Days of Our Lives" for three decades, has been fired. Her character's having her throat slashed.
It really is no fun getting old, is it?