Actor saddles up to produce and star in film

IF YOU see people playing polo in the next Pierce Brosnan movie, know that the actor has had his way with MGM. Brosnan is calling the movie “The Topkapi Affair” and he is producing and starring. He isn’t sure about his own horsemanship, however. Says he once played polo in a movie about the life of Nancy Astor but is not sure he can remember how to ride a horse, let alone swing a mallet at the same time.

THE NAMES backing Tony Bennett’s “Exploring the Arts” gala at Radio City on Sept. 9 start with Bill Clinton, Paul and Joanne Woodward, Clint and Dina Eastwood, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi, John Travolta, Carol Burnett, Barbara Sinatra, Harry Belafonte, and Sen. Edward Kennedy. Add House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Charles Rangel, Iris Cantor, John Desiderio, Marianne and George Kaufman and you have a lot of people working for arts education. Tony will perform in concert with k.d. lang and James Taylor. Rockefeller Center’s Summer Garden is to host the dinner. Call 212-868-8450 ext. 205 for tix.

CABLE HAS been sizzling for weeks with USA’s delicious spy/action series, “Burn Notice.” Several months ago, Sharon Gless, who has a recurring role in this show, praised its star, Jeffrey Donovan to me. She extolled his talent and charisma. I admitted he was not then on my radar. Now he is. The show is a corker — witty and action-packed, set in steamy Miami. But Donovan’s sly, laid back style and boyish/brawny looks are the real steam. And he is coupled with the stunning Gabrielle Anwar, who plays his trigger-happy ex, helping him out of jams as violently as possible. (This girl belies the old song, “You Can’t Get a Man With A Gun.”) You might recall Miss Anwar from last season’s “The Tudors,” in which she played Henry VIII’s ill-fated sister. But she is much better served in “Burn Notice.” Here she is nobody’s victim, and wears flimsy clothes like a top model. “Burn Notice” has won its timeslot for the past eight weeks, and USA picked it up for a second season. The Donovan/Anwar barbecue will continue.

IN SEPTEMBER’S GQ, George Saunders writes a scathing and accurate look at what has happened to TV news, and to cable in particular. The piece chronicles the rise of the screaming heads, the lack of balance, the scary reality that the people doing the screaming, the ones whom we imbue with power, aren’t the brightest bulbs. The author points to the O.J. Simpson trial as the point in which “something latent in our news media became overt and catastrophic.” … Viggo Mortensen is also profiled in GQ, and he drops a few flamingly quotable quotes about presidential candidates and the current administration. “This administration has undone so much. Not unlike the Germans in the 1930s. . . . Dick Cheney’s behavior about not letting people have access is very Nazi.”

(Email Liz Smith at MES3838@aol. com)

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