Jack’s List

Nicholson_jack “I wasn’t going to say anything tonight,” Jack Nicholson told the guests before his private screening of “The Bucket List” Sunday at Warner Bros. The 70 year-old said he had skipped making opening remarks last year before a similar screening of “The Departed” due to illness. At that time, he admitted he didn’t really know the future of his acting career. In fact, at Thanksgiving in 2006 with friends Warren Beatty, Annette Bening and family he told them  he didn’t beleive he would be able to  do “The Bucket List.”  Today, Jack (heartier than ever) recalls,  “Alan Horn said ‘We won’t make it without you,’so there really was nothing that was gong to stop me from from doing it.” 

You’d never guess Jack Nicholson is really shy–but he admitted to me today, “I almost didn’t want to go ( to his own screening) last night.” He described his nervousness saying he waited outside the theater with two associates as the film unspooled. “I learned when I was an usher in New Jersey that you could tell about a movie when–if–the audience  would exit before the end .” So, Nicholson said he decided “to skulk” around the theater to wait  out the reaction this time around. He didn’t have to worry. Of course, the audience was all friends but  even so, the applause lasted well beyond the final credits and hardly anyone left before the lights fully  went up.

Fair warning–don’t be put off by the opening of “The Bucket List”–even though Nicholson says it helped convince him to do the film.  “And with (director) Rob Reiner and  Morgn Freeman –we ripped right through it. I had always wanted to work with Morgan.” Jack starred for Rob previously on “A Few Good Men.” At the time, Rob  complimented Jack on his total involvement on ‘Men’–largely because he  would be on set every day,  even when he wasn’t needed, for reaction shots only on the other players. “You don’t have to do it, ” Rob would tell him but Jack said, “Those are great lines–I’ll never say  those lines again–so let me go full out on them!” .   

Among us complimenting  Nicholson after the screening was friend and fellow actor Beatty–who  co-starred with Jack in  “Reds”(1981) and “The  Fortune” (1975). Why don’t Nicholson and Beatty team  again? “I’d really like to direct him” Jack said, “he’s such a great actor.”… Sidelight at the screening: one of the guests was “Boston Legal’s”  fine actor Christian Plemenson, who plays the very nervously- complicated attorney “Jerry Espenson”–  (who also finally gets a a date this season!). I asked him how the WGA strike affects the series?  “David Kelley is such a genius–when he saw the strike possibility, he set about quickly writing two more shows — we’ll have enough to shoot through the rest of the year.” (One of the often-controversial stories in the terrif series involves–Roe v.Wade.)

Strictly Personal: Ernie Borgnine who starred in–and won an Oscar for “Marty” was saddened by the death of  director Delbert Mann. Borgnine told me : “When you worked with him, it was no work–it was all play. He was the guy who made it (The Academy Award) happen.”…Shirley Jones and Marty Ingels  celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary Nov.13 with dinner at the Bel-Air Hotel where they were married. He asked what she exoects to get on her 30th year with him. He says: sainthood.Estelle Reiner is not up to her regular gig at the Gardenia so, husband  Carl Reiner “will fill in” for her–one night only– Nov.16–with a few surprises–Rob, Annie and Lucas Reiner–plusTomGarvin and Bill Watrous. And Sunday, Nov.18, Carl will  head a Q&A at the American Jewish University  following a highlight screening of the upcoming powerful, no-holds-barred PBS docu, “The Jewish  Americans,” airing Jan.9, 16 and 23. Carl and  SidCaesar are prominent  in two segs of the films. ..Sad to note another onetime movie palace is shuttered. Landmark’s  NuWilshire  in Santa Monica is closed. It opened in 1931–predating the Radio City Music Hall (1932). 

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