A much tamer Times Square routine, Rollin' on the T.O.B.A. is an affectionate revue with lots of talent, but almost as little dramatic depth as the ill-fated Band in Berlin. The O.B. in T.O.B.A. must stand for Off-Broadway, which is where this well-meaning hors d'oeuvre probably should have stayed.
Finally, let's go off the beaten path for Robert Altman's Cookie's Fortune, a giddy Southern murder farce that's like a far-gone Fargo for the jonquil circuit. Picture Charles S. Dutton as a wrongly accused suspect who "won't drink before Brokaw," Glenn Close as an amateur director who eats a suicide note, and Liv Tyler as a restless vixen with a genealogical surprise, to name three of the movie's semiconscious steel magnolias. At a special screening, Altman urged us to "giggle and give in!" and the crowd of crew members and columnists dutifully obeyed. Afterward, I heard Al Franken tell someone, "Once the story kicked in, I didn't have to pee anymore." (The urge clearly came back, seeing as he said this at a urinal.)
In stellar Voice style, I trapped Dutton on the way out of the theater and asked if what happens to him in the movie reflects the racial profiling that's permeating the headlines these days. "If it was another kind of movie," he said. "But they wouldn't have left my cell door open if it was the kind of profiling you're talking about." I earned extra Voicestripes by asking Altman the same question at the after-party at Elaine's. Amusingly enough, he gave his usual unquotable quote. "It had nothing specifically to do with this," he said. "It's a new South. It's racism that isn't there, and yet it certainly is there. That's not what the film is about. Maybe it is what it's about. I don't know what the film's about!" "It's about two hours," I blurted, and he looked like he wanted to punch me senseless.
I tried to sneak out, but was assuaged back in and seated near Patricia Neal, who plays the crumbling Cookie with doughy verve. I never got to ask her about racial profiling, though, because she immediately took a more personal interest in me. "Where did you come from?" Neal wondered, wackily. "Where do you live? What street? I'll come visit you!" Fine just bring your Oscar, honey.