By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Thanks to the E! True Hollywood Story-ization of the movies, Greg Kinnear gets a raunchy departure with Paul Schrader's Auto Focus, and I'm tripping over my tongue to see it again. "It's not like I was doing Denny's commercials before this," Kinnear told me the other day, "but I'm not unaware that the role is considered different." He plays Bob Crane, who starred in the P.O.W. sitcom Hogan's Heroes while sticking his schnitzel into any female that moved, and on film yetthe closest he got to a movie career. "He liked documentation more than fornication," quipped kooky Kinnear.
Crane was a bit of a schizo case, added the eternally boyish actor. "He's a one-woman man who doesn't like dirty jokes on the radio, and on the other hand he's living this crazy, lascivious lifestyle and was oblivious to there being anything wrong or damaging about it." (Sounds like a lot of Republicans.)
Kinnear first contributed to my hormonal problems as the wiseass host of Talk Soup(on E!, suitably enough).Sydney Pollack promptly put him in Sabrina (if Pollack had only watched The Gossip Show, I'd be the movie star now), which led to his Oscar-nominated battered gay in As Good as It Gets and the kind of film work Crane craved. (Or did he? Kinnear informed me that Crane wouldn't let his agent put him up for Network "because he didn't think that was an interesting movie!")
More urgently: Were Crane and his manic bi pal, John Carpenter, in love? No, said Kinnear, they were more like codependents"using each other, taking tandem steps backwards." Way backwards! The movie suggests that after turning Crane on to (ba)zoom lenses, the dumped Carpenter poetically killed him with a camera. At least Crane died with a tripod; Auto Focus also implies that he'd gotten a penile implant, though his real-life son Scotty Crane says that's just dick. Whether Bob had one or not, says Kinnear, "he told Carpenter he did, which is much more revealing. It's a case of not seeing the bigger issues in the story." Honey, I've seen themon Scotty's Web site!
In other scandal cinema, The Rules of Attractionmakes Auto Focus look like Bedknobs and Broomsticks. The entertainingly show-offy adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel (set, apparently, at Bob Crane University) brims with split-screen sex, drugs, and suicideit's my kind of romantic comedy. The exotic Shannyn Sossamon (from A Knight's Tale) co-stars as Lauren, a lost soul who tries clinging to her virginity (but not that hard) while running into drugs and betrayal. I vegged out with Shannyn the other day at Angelica Kitchen, where she was sweet and mercifully un-Lauren-like. "I don't live like that," she said. "She lets the stupidest things happen to her. But I guess everyone can relate to that a little bit." Don't I know it, girl. I have so many friends like that!
Shannyn became a buddy by agreeing to demystify the movie's debauchery for me. For the coke scenes, it turns out, they used powdered sugar, and no one had to really snort it because their heads went out of the frame. Shannyn's noggin also goes bye-bye when she gives a hummer to her professor (Eric Stoltz), a sequence in which she "had to try not to giggle. He was making me laugh." As for the lesbian necrophilia wildness that columnists reported was cut, she said the scene never existed; it's just an artist's image on the soundtrack CD cover. Thank GodI'm glad these empty college kids draw the line somewhere!
Loss of perspective is where the Reno-raised Shannyn says she draws the line. "I don't live and breathe acting in the way 'thespians' do," she said. "It's up there with many other passions." Despite looking like a Precious Moments figurine and being surrounded by rising-starlet hoopla, she gladly copped to some insecurity issues. That prompted me to ask if she, like me, has an inner voice that says, "You suck!" "I guess there's a little bit of that in there," she admitted. "That's been there since I was little. I'm also really shy, in a way where I don't want people to look at me. I don't know. What is it? Tell me!" Sorry, kid, but I suck at that kind of celebrity psychotherapy .
"It boils down to 'It either has to get better or you should stop doing this,' " concluded Shannyn, poignantly addressing herself. "Come on, this is painful!" We both hit the powdered sugar and were fine.
Wait, there's more scandal cinema being servednamely Pedro Almodóvar's Talk to Her, a tale of sex with the comatose, which was screened the very same day Reese Witherspoon's brother was busted for molesting a sleeping woman! "There's a big vagina in the movie," Maya Rudolph alerted me at a Paper party for Pedro at Village. That somehow led me to ask if Donatella Versace likes Maya's funny spoofs of her on SNL. "Yes. She interviewed me for Interview," said Maya. "Now she wants to meet me in person. That might be too muchtwo Donatellas!" Pleasethere are never enough Donatellas.