Miramax’s most costly film wraps in Rome

GOOD MORNING: It’ll really be good Friday at Miramax, Harvey Weinstein said as he again boarded a plane for Rome Tuesday night. He remains until the wrap of Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York,” Friday. “It’s the most expensive movie ever made by Miramax: $90 million,” he averred, though others feel it went higher. There were 127 first-unit shooting days; the film started Sept. 18. The main unit of the pic wrapped two weeks ago, with 150 members of the main unit having been sent home to the U.S. Cameron Diaz wound her role four weeks ago, Daniel Day Lewis completes his scenes Thursday, and Leonardo DiCaprio, Friday. The men have been working in final action sequences of the draft riots of 1862 in N.Y. Scorsese has been directing these second-units as well. Harvey enthused about Scorsese’s savvy working with huge crowds, as well as the intimacy of the scenes with his principals. “I might hire him (Scorsese) to direct second unit in other Miramax movies,” laughed Harvey. After the final day, Good Friday, what will Weinstein do? “On Saturday,” he said, “we go to the synagogue to pray we have a hit.” The movie opens at Christmas.

THE ROOM WAS CHARGED with emotion,” Billy Crystal described the White House projection room where HBO’s “61*” preemed Monday night for President George W. Bush to a select audience of 40. No, there was no discussion about China or anything else. Billy allowed, “I was tempted to say something, but it was not the appropriate time. He is the president, no matter how much we disagree on many things. But we agreed on one thing: our love for baseball. This was not a showbiz meeting; it was two baseball fans.” The president asked Billy to introduce the film and director-producer Crystal explained his love of baseball — since his father first took him to Yankee Stadium in 1956, to his friendship with Mickey Mantle (which developed over the years), and through Mantle’s death. Crystal attended the funeral and helped write the eulogy with George Will, who delivered it “eloquently.” Will was also at the screening Monday night … Crystal was seated to the right of the president in the first row of the White House screening room. It was a worrisome moment when the movie started and sound was missing. “I was nervous,” admitted Billy, but the sound was quickly corrected. Crystal said, “The president knew everything about everyone in the movie; even the names of characters whom we didn’t name on the screen. And he knew Mickey Mantle; they were members of the same golf club.” I asked Billy the president’s reaction at the finale of the film. “He said ‘It is the best baseball movie ever made.’ ” This was Billy’s second time at the White House with President Bush (he’d been there twice previously). Bush invited him to the Hall of Fame lunch at the White House two weeks ago. “Can you imagine: I walk in with Reggie Jackson and Sandy Koufax, and Hank Aaron is among those there — and I’m sitting next to the president at lunch!” That’s when Crystal was asked by the president to screen his pic in the White House. Among those at the screening were HBO’s Jeff Bewkes; Ross Greenburg, exec producer of “61*” who brought the project to HBO and who wanted Billy to direct; costars Barry Pepper and Thomas Jane; and the Yankees’ George Steinbrenner, who said, “I’ve watched ‘The Pride of the Yankees’ 20 times and this is the best baseball movie I’ve ever seen.” Also there, AOL Time Warner’s Steve Case, Gerald Levin and Dick Parsons, HBO’s Colin Callender, Pat Maris (Roger’s widow), Roger Maris Jr.; Jennifer Crystal Foley, Billy’s daughter who plays Pat Maris; Billy’s wife Janice and daughter Lindsay, George Wills, Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary Neil Bush (Laura, Mrs. George W., was entertaining other White House guests.) Prior to the screening, the group dined in the White House East Room on a Tex-Mex buffet and, yes, and at the entrance to the projection room there was a popcorn machine. Billy told me it was a night he will never forget.

BRINGING THE PAST into the present: “Saturday Night Live’s” Jimmy Fallon has been set by producer Tony Adams to join the tribute to Dudley Moore at Carnegie Hall on Monday. He will team with Eric Idle on the classic one-legged “Tarzan” sketch from “Beyond the Fringe.” The Monty Python troupe was influenced by Peter Cook & Moore in “Fringe,” and “SNL” has been influenced by — Monty Python. Chevy Chase, who teamed with Moore in “Foul Play” and will be an important feature of the tribute, has always idolized Moore, saying, “I look up to Dudley” … The 48th SHARE Boomtown show May 12 at CBS, Fairfax, is titled, “Some Like It Hot” and the Shining Spirit Award will be given to Audrey and Billy Wilder. But I’m sorry to tell the SHARE ladies that Audrey tells me they will not be there. “I told them we are not coming,” she insists. Well, I asked her to call me if she changes her mind. She said she will. She was a SHARE lady, “but I quit 35 years ago,” she reminds. The show, produced by Maxine Smith and exec produced by her husband Gary Smith, has many acts in rehearsal, including Jim Bailey in his Judy Garland act, plus all-girl orch, as in “Some Like It Hot.” It’s hoped Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis will be there. The SHARE ladies have raised $35 million over these 48 years. Among items for this year’s auction, Ford donates one of its classic, limited edition “Bullitt” Mustangs.

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