Yellen aims to paint picture of artists

PICTURE IT: Paris, 1912, the Left Bank, which was then a hotbed for art, fashion, sexual liberation and the latest controversial theories. In one dilapidated apartment complex lived five young men, struggling artists, all convinced of their own particular genius, all sharing ideas, women, hostilities, jealousies. Each would eventually become quite famous. They were the rock stars of their day, a moment in which Levi’s were the hot American import and neon lights were beginning their gaudy transformation of Parisian boulevards. Tattoos and piercing were omnipresent. … Those five artists were Picasso, Chagall, Rivera, Soutine and Modigliani. This true story has never been told. If producer-director-writer Linda Yellen has her way, it will. Yellen (“Sweet Bird of Youth”) has a fascinating script ready to go, titled “The Hive.” James Franco and Gena Rowlands are attached, and many young actors have been approached. Many have expressed interest, in playing one of the legendary painters. … “No film has really been able to capture the energy and vitality of what it was like to live on the Left Bank then, to be young and ambitious and wildly sexual,” Yellen says. She is working with Hybride, the special FX house, to create the look for the movie. MAC Cosmetics has agreed to create special face and body makeup for “The Hive.” Yellen hopes to have full cast and crew ready to go by summer.

WHEN I talked with Dixie Carter about her daring new role on “Desperate Housewives” I wondered — has she been called upon yet by the “Desperate” ladies as an advice-giver — how to keep the peace, whatever? Dixie purred: “I’ve only been here a little while, and nobody’s had that conversation with me yet. I don’t know anybody will. They seem to get along quite well, so far as I can see.” … Dixie has been spending time tending to her 96-year-old dad in her home town of McLemoresville, Tenn., in the very house where she (and he!) were born. She is also preparing for a stage show that requires her to dance. “I’ve been going to gym and to dance class. I certainly feel youthful and limber, though I think Marc Cherry (the big man of ‘Desperate Housewives’) was afraid I’d be offended to be offered a role where I was the mother of Kyle MacLachlan, who is adorable but not a very young man. Truth be told — I am old enough, and wasn’t offended at all.” Dixie spoke of her early days in New York, during the era of posh clubs and bohemian cabaret. The nostalgia led Dixie to say she really wants another go at the Cafe Carlyle, where she did her witty and sexy act for a number of years. Dixie’s impish mix of song and patter was always memorable, not in the least for the inevitable moment she would perch on the piano, skirt hiked precariously high, revealing sinfully shapely legs.

THE SENTIMENT on opening night of the “A Chorus Line” revival almost washed everyone away on West 45th Street. Rosie O’Donnell was filming with her video camera and screaming hurrah right across the aisle. Everybody loved everybody and everybody adores this unique show — stunningly choreographed by Bob Avian with heartbreaking, fabulous Marvin Hamlisch music. If you never saw it, you’ll faint with joy. If you saw it many times, as I did, you may feel that a bit of the thrill is gone. (After all, these dancers’ stories are more than 25 years old; we’re not as shocked and touched.) But you can’t beat the dancing. Michael Bennett lives in Broadway’s heart. … Wednesday night, 600 fabulous names who believe skin cancer is more important than plastic surgery gathered at the Pierre under the aegis of Meryl Streep, Julianna Margulies and Dr. Pat Wexler to raise awareness of the now rampant disease. They had garnered over a million bucks before lifting a fork. Nora Ephron emceed on the wave of her No. 1 bestseller which is in its 17th printing. All about her neck! … The funniest part of attending Barbra Streisand’s show at Madison Square Garden was passing through the lobby and experiencing commercialism full riot. Items for sale included getting your picture taken in front of a “Streisand” sign — $20 for the first pic, $10 for the second and each additional was $5. There were baby outfits, doggie outfits, $40 programs, $300 suede and leather jackets. And T-shirts, which portrayed Barbara in her many roles — singer, director, woman with cleavage. She insists most of this money goes to her various charities. I’ll take the lady at her word.

(Email Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com)

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