MacLaine shows she’s still got it

“MOSTLY I think about whoever I was having an affair with, and how much I weighed!” That was Shirley MacLaine at the recent Palm Springs Intl. Film Festival, where she received an award for her lifetime achievements. She got her biggest laugh when she remarked, “I’ve never been very ambitious.” Kathy Bates all but fell to the floor. (MacLaine is 71 and works more than most 30-year-old actors.) Shirley’s latest is “Rumor Has It.” … Asked what was it about her that attracted so many brilliant men over the years, the star laughed, “My humor. My self-deprecating humor.” Those killer legs didn’t hurt either. And how about this nugget–though today we can’t imagine anybody but Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s,” Shirley says she was offered the role first. … The Palm Springs Fest was packed with stars including Charlize Theron, Felicity Huffman, Keanu Reeves, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges (making his impressive music-to-movies crossover in “Crash”), Virginia Madsen, David Cronenberg, Terrence Howard and Jake Gyllenhall. Jake took the Desert Palm Achievement award and broke out into a little song and dance during his acceptance. The “Brokeback Mountain” star said, “I already did a gay cowboy movie this year. If I did a musical people might start asking questions. But don’t think it’s not beating deeply in my veins, and the urge is deep. Deep, deep urge.” (I guess he meant the urge to do a musical. Otherwise I’d have no other questions. It never occurred to me, after all, to ask if he ever wanted to be a retail clerk, although he appeared as same in “The Good Girl.”)

CHITA RIVERA and Rita Moreno allegedly had a “feud” after Moreno was cast as Anita, the role Rivera created on Broadway, in the film of “West Side Story.” Moreno won fame and the Oscar. It was planned last week that Rita would appear backstage, surprise Chita and bury the hatchet. Well, there was no hatchet to bury. And there was no surprise. The dazzling legends met in Chita’s dressing room and both collapsed into laughter and tears, hugs and kisses. The entire cast came in one by one. Chita’s daughter, Lisa Mordente, was on hand, as were Chita’s brothers. Rita said “I was so moved by the show. I could only think of all the struggles Chita has survived with grace and elegance. She deserves to be the queen of musical theater.” Upstairs at Bar Centrale, Joe Allen, once a beau of Chita’s, listened to the gossip and said, “What feud?” … So, the much-damned-by-religious conservatives-before-it-arrived “The Book of Daniel” TV series finally aired last week and nobody turned into a pillar of salt. It seemed to me to be nothing more than an unusually well cast (Aidan Quinn, Ellen Burstyn and Christian Campell), complicated soap opera about a messed-up pastor, his messed up family and some pointless visitations from a very WASPy-looking Jesus thrown in. If you want an “uplifting” series about a married pastor, catch the final episodes of the long-running “7th Heaven,” the conservative’s dream show! (It is amusing, however, that in order to capture a larger audience, “7th Heaven” populates its cast with very hot looking young actors, playing the pastor’s kids. Lots of preaching about no premarital sex, but they’re all got up like Abercrombie & Fitch models.)

FRANKIE VALLI, lead singer of the Four Seasons, looks much as he did when I first fell madly in love with his piercing falsetto vocals while dancing to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” on my local jukebox. The tune stops the hot new musical “Jersey Boys” every night at the August Wilson Theatre. “And,” says Frankie, sipping a Bellini, “we never gave the rights away. We never had the sense that any of our success would last. As a kid in Newark … we had a lot of dreams. I am still stunned that any of them came true.” … “Jersey Boys,” the musical, has John Lloyd Young playing Frankie onstage. “I feel great that he’s there as me eight times a week. I can’t wait until there are road shows in every major city with guys portraying me. I’m kidding, of course. At first it was weird seeing me onstage while asking myself — ‘am I really like that?’ But the show is so true to our lives. There ‘we’ all are at the finale making music for the sheer beauty of the harmony. It’s like ‘we’ are all breathing the same breath. And that’s a great life!” … Speaking of music stars, Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy bash on Feb. 7 is moving to the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.

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