GOOD MORNING: Jack Nicholson and Fidel Castro were to have had a one-hour meeting during Nicholson’s visit to Cuba — they talked for three hours. “He (Castro) is a genius. We spoke about everything,” enthuses Nicholson, who was there on a weeklong visit on invitation from the Cuban Film Board. Also on the trip with Nicholson and Rebecca Broussard were Mark Canton and the Jake Blooms. Nicholson modestly said, “I didn’t know if anyone would know me there, but when we came out of our hotel, the people on the street applauded.” Of the Cubans, he said, “They are so open-faced, not one bit hostile. It was sad to see the buildings crumbling, milk only available for little children.” Nicholson, tremendously moved by the experience, says he hopes Clinton and Castro can bring about an end to the estrangement, embargo, etc. “They are both humanists,” reasoned Nicholson. “They should get together. And it would be great for Clinton’s legacy. There’s no remaining reason for it (the schism) to continue. After all, he (Clinton) did go to China. And I think Castro never wanted to break it off with us.” As for the content of the conversation with Castro, he said “it was plain old talk. We talked about life, culture — he’s in pretty good communication with Ted Turner (they have CNN there). He stays up late, like I do. Yes, he’s seen some of my movies.” Nicholson said he heard a lot of great music, “smoked a few good cigars” (“we’re not allowed to bring ’em out”), met with the players in the Cuban Oscar contender “Strawberry and Chocolate,” and ate in the restaurant where it was filmed. “They (the actors) would like to break out into the international market. Sure, I could make a film on what I saw — but that’s secondary to getting the situation changed.” Nicholson and troupe flew into Cuba via Jamaica. He departed the same way, and continued on to play golf in Ireland. But he did not buy a home there, as printed elsewhere. “I’ve got enough houses to take care of,” he laughed. After Ireland, he continued to Wimbledon and then on to the final game of the World Cup, where he and pal Dennis Hopper both donned tri-color makeup on their faces as they cheered for France, “with Dennis singing ‘La Marseillaise’!” During the European vacation, Nicholson also visited with pal Michael Douglas at the latter’s home in Spain. Sure, Nicholson said, “I wouldn’t mind making a movie with Mikey. He’s the best.” Nicholson maintains he’d like to next direct the long-in-progress project “Moon Trap.” “And I’d like to sit down and write something about which I have an idea.” But meantime, “I’m enjoying a long vacation, thanks to Jim Brooks (‘As Good as It Gets’), who delivered me a featherbed. More good times — that’s my motto.”
AN “OSCAR” WAS HANDED OUT Tuesday night at the Biltmore Hotel in Providence, R.I. It was the post-preem party for natives Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s “There’s Something About Mary.” (The screening was held earlier that evening in Woonsocket, R.I.’s 1,200-seat Stadium Theater. The preem benefited two cancer charities: the Jimmy and Neely House Funds.) Peter Farrelly reported to me the event was carried off with total Oscar austerity (well, as much as you’d expect from the Farrellys), with an envelope from “Price Waterhouse” presented by Boston Bruins all-time hockey star Cam Neely to “Best Actor of 1998.” The “Oscar” went to mentally retarded Warren Tashjian, who lived on the block where the Farrellys grew up and who appears (briefly) in the movie in which Warren is played by thesp W. Earl Brown. Farrelly defends their depiction of the mentally challenged in the pic, in which they are called “retards” by the “bumblehead” villain (Matt Dillon). He gets his just desserts in return. “We don’t get laughs at their expense, but at those who claim political correctness. Our heart (as repped by hero Ben Stiller) is in the right place, just as in ‘Forrest Gump.’ There’s a line you cannot cross, not if it really hurts someone,” he maintains. What about the Farrellys’ 5-year-old project about Siamese twin brothers, “Stuck on You”? MGM had nixed it. “We rewrote it, but it’s not definite now. What we don’t want to do is to try and outdo ourselves.” Peter Farrelly’s book “The Comedy Writer” is now on the bestseller list. He admits it is “53% autobiographical.” He says the writer’s agent Levine is not their CAAgent Richard Lovett, but others named are from true incidents. F’rinstance, they pitched Seinfeld (“our idol”) on several scripts; one, ‘The Virgin Story,’ was turned down, but then used, with ‘story’ only credit.” Another real account is their meeting with Robert Redford. Gosh, the Farrellys are movie fans, too!
SHARON STONE, WHITNEY HOUSTON, Garth Brooks, Rosie O’Donnell and Roseanne are among those already set to guest in the new King World “Hollywood Squares,” with Whoopi Goldberg in the center square and hosted by Tom Bergeron. The show bows Sept. 14 on CBS O&O’s, with the Kings putting up a million-$ for the stars’ favorite charities … While Sandy Gallin departed management partner-shipwith Jim Morey for Steve Wynn’s Mirage, both Mariah Carey and Dolly Parton have re-signed with Morey. Parton’s readying a new album, “Hungry Again” (Decca).