“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).