I laughed when Harvey Weinstein told me, “I’m humbled,” as response to congrats on “Chocolat’s” five Oscar nominations. But seriously, folks, Harvey was
humbled, he explained. “I am gratified after what happened last year: two months in the hospital, one month recuperating — and then the Presidential and senatorial (Demo.) campaigns.” As for the film, he reminds, “We delivered it late and started up at the last minute.” As for his feelings about his confection’s Oscar chances, “It’s a wide-open race.” He particularly praised the pic’s “young” producer, David Brown, 84 … Oscar show producer Gil Cates’ first two calls after the nominees were revealed: Bob Dylan (to sing his “Things Have Changed” from “Wonder Boys”) and Sting (to perform “My Funny Friend and Me” from “The Emperor’s New Groove” with music by Sting and David Hartley and lyrics by Sting). “Times they have a-changed,” noted Bruce Vilanch — “Bob Dylan at the Oscars!” … Steve Martin has meetings this week with Cates and Vilanch, one of the show’s writers along with Hal Kanter and Buz Kohan, to talk through the script for the telecast. Steve and his scripters should have no difficulty finding comedy possibilities talking about (enacting?) the five nominated pictures. Just think of that wild and crazy guy in “Chocolat,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Erin Brockovich,” “Gladiator” and “Traffic.” Martin’s already said he’s looking forward to it. The multi-talented Vilanch, who also appears Mondays in his one-man show at the Canon, plays a role as a Santa Claus wannabee in “Call Me Claus” starring Whoopi Goldberg in the TNT pic she produces along with Garth Brooks — who will undoubtedly sing a tune in the Peter Werner-directed vidpic. Vilanch is also writing his own pilot (untitled) for CBS with Pamela Eels (“Mad About You”) to star two femmes … Kanter is also writing material for himself: He delivers the opening monologue at the Writers Guild Awards, March 4. On March 3 he emcees the USC Scripters’ Awards. These guys are busy — because they’re talented.
“GLADIATOR” PRODUCER DOUG WICK
told me, “No one deserves (the nomination) more than Ridley Scott. The film is Ridley’s eyes.” Wick, now teamed with Tony Scott on “Spy Games,” says he hopes to continue to keep his films “in the Scott family.” But Wick next produces “Stuart Little II,” again directed by Rob Minkoff and the original cast — including Michael J. Fox as the voice of Stuart. A newcomer to the “Little” fold will be Melanie Griffith, whose delightfully identifiable voice will play heard as “Margolo,” a highly sophisticated bird who becomes the pal of the little mouse. “Stuart Little” is truly a story of the little mouse that could — it was the underdog (you should pardon the expression) pic nixed by almost everyone, and eventually did $130 million domestically, as much foreign and untold millions still to come from the video(s) … Javier Bardem, the first Spanish actor to be Oscar nominated, on the phone from Spain Tuesday, said, “They are treating me like the king of Spain — which is weird, because I don’t believe in the monarchy!” As for Communist Cuba, he laments that he probably will not be able to go there because of “Before Night Falls.” “I’ve done this movie because I love Cuba. And there’s a Spanish saying: ‘The one who loves you will make you cry.’ I do love Cuba and made them cry.” The talented Bardem will be in L.A. in advance of the Oscars to attend the Spirit Awards. And listen to offers? He admits, “I do not want to be in a rush” for his next film. “I want to do what I’ve been doing for 13 years. I want to take my time (choosing roles).” Upcoming, he’ll be seen in “The Dancer Upstairs,” directed by John Malkovich, which he said will bow at Cannes. He may return to the stage before doing another film.
CAMERON CROWE WAS DIRECTING
Kurt Russell in a “Vanilla Sky” scene with Tom Cruise Tuesday when he got word of the four “Almost Famous” Oscar nominations: his script, supporting acting nods for Kate Hudson (Russell is her stepdad) and Frances McDormand and film editing. Crowe, who didn’t get a directing nod, allowed, “The writing nomination is very meaningful to me.” Crowe laughingly noted that Russell “got the code book on me from Kate, so he knows exactly what I’m going to do. And he has every nuance of the part.” Russell plays a prison psychiatrist who gets to deconstruct Tom Cruise’s character to get him to talk. “It’s a beautifully nuanced performance” … Happy Valentine’s Day: Kate Linder (Esther Valentine in “The Young and the Restless”) and husband Dr. Ron Linder celebrate their 25th wedding anni today. Kate also hosts the Make-A-Wish winetasting and auction Feb. 24 at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica … Doris Roberts has raised $50,000 for Children Affected by AIDS. She presents the check Feb. 22 at AIDS Project L.A. Foundation… Jamie Lee Curtis who, with husband Christopher Guest, has two adopted children, appears on “Touched by an Angel” Feb. 18 with a message on the importance of adoption of the 122,000 U.S. children who are awaiting to be adopted … Jazz trumpeter Snooky Young was toasted on his 82nd birthday at the Ventura Club in Sherman Oaks. E-mails were read from many, including Quincy Jones. Young continues to travel with Doc Severinson’s band and plays with the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orch at the Hollywood Bowl.