NY Mirror

RUPERT EVERETT's new memoir Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins filled me with a burning rage. Reading it, I realized the British actor doubles as a sparkling social arbiter and ultra-literate gossip reporter, and as such he's clearly more astute an observer than even yours fucking truly! I absolutely hate him! (Though I'm a better actor, of course.)

Coming off smarter than everyone else who's ever set foot in Hollywood combined, Everett turns in spot-on portraits of radioactive stars like MADONNA, SHARON STONE, Done Fadeaway (a/k/a FAYE DUNAWAY), and even DANNY AIELLO, who gets a rollicking trashing he'd be advised not to read if he wants a nice '07.

As for the rest of the book, let me distill it down to its most prominent gossip points, seeing as how lesser scribes like to do that sort of thing. The interpersonal highlights include: Madonna making Everett snog her smoldering then-boyfrend TONY WARD (she didn't have to insist very hard); JULIA ROBERTS and newcomer CAMERON DIAZ experiencing a smidgen of tension on the set of My Best Friend's Wedding; Everett having to fight the powers that be to make his The Next Best Thing character have a gay sex life; John Schlesinger nodding off behind the camera of that same film; and most shockingly of all, Everett having a torrid affair with French sexpot BÉATRICE DALLE. His description of Dalle reveals his evocative skill, which, let me remind you, drives me mad with rage: "Her kind of beauty was definitely pre-Botox, much deeper than the cash-and-carry bargains of today. Its origins were the gaslit barmaids of Manet and the Parisian demimonde between the wars. She was jolie laide—pretty and ugly. If you pulled back her hair, her head was the shape of a woodland elf . . . " Curses on you, Rupert Everett! You're too damned good!


The Saint at very large
Another talent I'm jealous of, the trés jolie JENNIFER HUDSON, made her New York concert debut at the Saint at Large party at the Hammerstein Ballroom, where the fates tried to put the nightmare back into Dreamgirls. There were some technical glitches, from no light on Hudson's entrance to our star wondering where the backup music was when she started her finale. Midway through the concert, Hudson left the stage to two mime types, coming back several minutes later in the same outfit! Where did she go—another club? Also, after her climactic number got applause, there was uncomfortable darkness and silence, which prompted someone official to take the mic and scream, "More Jennifer Hudson! More Jennifer Hudson!" But in pulling off this sort of mammoth endeavor, minor faux pas are to be expected, and Hudson was a pro in putting up with them, belting on cue, abetted by video screens, go-go-briefed dancers, and fab House of Aviance members. She veered between much of the Dreamgirls canon (the best was a soulful "One Night Only") and TV-style covers of Aretha and MANILOW hits, pausing to tell us how at one point the moviemakers wanted a thinner Effie, "but we like Effie big, don't we?"

Yes, we do! Alas, her repertoire seems to have shrunk. As I mentioned online last week, Hudson is shockingly not allowed to do her big number, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," until after the Oscars for some strategic reason or another. Her not singing the song everyone came to hear was an elephant in the room, trampling a lot of people's hopes, dreams, and credit cards. Instead, she ended with a rather uninspired version of a disco song, parading through the front lines of the audience and letting them sing solos à la the original dreamgirl, DIANA ROSS. Overall, the uneven concert came off like that of a good American Idol contestant, not that of an Oscar front-runner. Hudson can't help but entertain, but right now that movie remains her best venue.

Hudson was honored at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards and was sobbing as she accepted, saying, "I'm so nervous! I did not expect this!" But it was announced a month ago. Oh, well, I also enjoyed HELEN MIRREN's telegram thanking "the knowing and beady-eyed New York film critics" and ROBIN WILLIAMS's in-person description of Happy Feet: "It's Riverdance meets March of the Penguins, with a gay agenda!" Some other actors had trotted out familiar-sounding feelings about "growing comfortable in my own skin" and "growing as a person and an artist," but Williams delightfully defused all the earnestness with zingers like "Hi, Marty [Scorsese]. I like the fact that Jack said, 'Fuck the accent!' " Even cuter was Dreamgirls director BILL CONDON telling me, "Have you noticed what perfect heads Matt and Leo have? That's what makes them so appealing!"

Beforehand, I chatted with PETER MORGAN, who has a lovely British accent and a nice head and who wrote The Queen and The Last King of Scotland, the year's two juiciest acting vehicles, not to mention two of three projects he's recently done about world leaders in crisis (along with the play Frost/Nixon). Is he getting a bit typed? "The thought has occurred to me," said Morgan. "Previous to this cycle, I'd been writing fiction, and I'll do so again. I've gotten into a rut doing this stuff, but people seem to like it, so I'd be a fool to stop." His next film is about the gruesomely executed Saddam Hussein, I mean Anne Boleyn.

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