“IT’S GREAT to be queen!” says Helen Mirren. At Michael’s literary lunch emporium recently, the world beat its way to her table to kiss the ring of the star who, this year, is portraying Queen Elizabeth I and II on TV and on the big screen. Helen dazzled HBO subscribers with her Elizabeth I; the delicious postscript is that Mirren will appear as Elizabeth II, Britain’s current top royal, in a Stephen Frears-directed feature film from Miramax titled “The Queen.” Helen is now encouraging London to put up statues of the two queens facing one another. “I think it would be a fabulous tourist attraction and please, why not? There are boring statues to men nobody remembers all over London. But here are two major monarchs of the same name, all-important to their times. Let’s move forward with this idea. I have the greatest admiration for both of my queens.” … Mirren took off for London after three days of promoting for HBO. She congratulated the network for its mature approach, saying, “This story of the queen is full of reality, some nail-biting torture and sexuality, perfect for the times, the way things were.” … Helen is now in the middle of shooting another of the acclaimed “Prime Suspect” shows, the TV detective series that made her famous. … In the future, she says she hopes to find a Broadway play. She and husband Taylor Hackford have a new apartment in Manhattan.
PRODUCER JOHN SCHREIBER, who put together “Elaine Stritch at Liberty,” is looking for a Broadway house to stage Diahann Carroll’s show currently at Feinstein’s at the Regency. … Jimmy Buffett will host a screening event in 40 cities across the country for his fans, kids, teachers and librarians after the movie “Hoot” opens May 5. There’ll be a Q&A via satellite and Jimmy will perform three of his songs, including a new one he wrote especially for “Hoot.” … Renee Zellweger caused a delightful little stir the other day when she attended the unveiling of a Beatrix Potter-inspired statue at the “World of Beatrix Potter” in London. (Bowness-on-Windermere, to be precise.)
DIRECTOR CHARLES BUSCH praises Polly Bergen’s work in his first movie, “A Very Serious Person,” which bows today at the Tribeca Film Festival. Busch says Polly gives a performance that is “utterly lacking in vanity … so touching and funny. We nearly killed her, filming in 105-degree weather. But she never complained, a real tough tootsie.” … Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is the new face of the Versace campaign for men. And also in negotiations to be the main man for a Hugo Boss fragrance. … “A Chorus Line,” opens Oct. 5 at the Schoenfeld Theatre. The musical begins previews in New York on Sept. 18, after a six-week run in San Francisco.
THE LITERACY PARTNERS gala and authors’ readings at Lincoln Center, a black-tie event, will be held Monday in the New York State Theatre. Cocktails at 6:30, readings at 7 p.m. Readers are Augusten “Running with Scissors” Burroughs, Michael “The Hours” Cunningham and Nora Ephron. Honorees are New York Public Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, his wife, Nicole Seligman of Sony, and Sherrie “Sesame Workshop” Westin and hubby David Westin of ABC News. If you want to come just for the readings, call (212) 573-6933, as it’s $100. You don’t have to dress up. Otherwise, call Buckley Hall for those big expensive tix.