And more from our Gossip Girl: Julia Roberts, a perfectly evil queen … remembering the Hollywood witch hunt
“THE professionals gave us the Titanic; the amateurs gave us the Ark!” So said Kinky Friedman.
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The regulars in Swifty’s dashing little restaurant up on Lexington Avenue at 72nd Street didn’t know that the unassuming guy in their midst last Wednesday was one of the world’s most dynamic billionaires.
Hollywood titan David Geffen was in town briefly to inspect a painting he was considering buying. He lunched with his longtime friend, the best-selling writer and movie director Nora Ephron. She had the curried chicken and he chose Swifty’s meatloaf.
David was fresh from the news and business furor surrounding the sale of his good pal, Arianna Huffington’s HuffPo political writing site to AOL for $315 million. When I suggested David might have been the brains behind the entire deal, he laughed and said, “I had nothing to do with it.” He is, however, a known advisor to Arianna and said he was delighted with events because it is an absolutely “great sweetheart deal and she deserves it. She is a true innovator.”
Mr. Geffen, who helped invent the modern music business, is an acute advisor on all matters relating to entertainment, politics and culture. He is one of the most respected minds in international finance and very much above the fray because he made his money the old-fashioned way; earning it before everybody else began striving to at least be millionaires. And to me, he doesn’t look a day older than when I first met him back in the heyday of Cher. (David’s advice and friendship did a lot for Cher’s career after her Sonny and Cher days were over.)
As David dropped himself off after lunch at the Sherry Netherland to inspect his new painting, Nora was on her way to lecturing in Texas. Her most recent book “I Remember Nothing” is on its way to matching up and surpassing her hit, “I Feel Bad About My Neck.”
To my way of thinking, the current hit tome, while very witty and funny, is a trenchant look at the prospects of getting older – and wiser!
This was quite a lunch we three enjoyed and we also had the pleasure at Swifty’s of running into the great talent Barbara Carroll, who is just about the world’s most brilliant jazz and pop music woman on piano. You can still catch Barbara with Sunday brunch at The Algonquin these weekends. She hasn’t changed one bit since she began her career with all the greats from Peggy Lee to Tony Bennett.
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THE GUYS who are producing the movie “The Brothers Grimm: Snow White,” say that their “first and only choice” to play the famous tale’s Evil Queen was … Julia Roberts! Well, even though Julia has played against type fairly often, I don’t quite recall her as an out-and-out villain. Except for an episode of “Law & Order,” which she did back when she and Benjamin Brat were a hot item. She was an unredeemable bitch in that. And she was very good at it.
So I think her Evil Queen will be a knockout. Still, she is going up against Charlize Theron, who will also play the malicious fairy-tale monarch in “Snow White and the Huntsman.” And we all know Charlize can be bad to the bone — remember her Oscar-winning “Monster?”
For the title role of innocent Miss White, rumors swirl around both productions, but nobody’s bitten into the apple officially.
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THE NEW issue of the Hollywood Reporter with Mark Wahlberg on the cover has one of its terrific short tales of show biz on its “80 Years of Hollywood Reporter” last page.
This one tells the incredible story of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who had flirted with Communism early in life, as many young idealists did. But after renouncing the dictums of Karl Marx, Dalton refused to name names before the House of Un-American Activities Committee in 1947. He wouldn’t snitch on others who had similarly mused on the Communist way of life. Trumbo spent 10 months in federal prison and was blacklisted — he could only work under assumed names. And sometimes he worked in such unworthy fare as B-level teen thrillers. But he also wrote Oscar-winning scripts for “Roman Holiday” and “The Brave One.” It took Kirk Douglas to openly credit Trumbo for writing “Spartacus” in 1960. (Hedda Hopper almost had a stroke!)
What a horrifying episode in American history—other careers were totally ruined– and it should give all struggling screenwriters pause. You might be having a hard time, but consider Mr. Trumbo. He had to use the name Sally Stubblefield at one point!