Viggo Mortensen channels his inner artist

TALK ABOUT laughing all the way to the bank! Isn’t the one doing the laughing the same little lady with long blonde hair and talent she hasn’t even tapped yet? She’s Meryl Streep, who the major critics all said would ruin her high-brow career by taking on a low-brow feel-good movie called “Mamma Mia!”

Some ruined career! Providing what the British papers call “welcome relief from the credit crisis” — “Mamma Mia!” has become the highest-grossing film of all time for the Brits.

The ABBA musical has taken in over $133 million at the English box office and is fully expected to soon overtake “Titanic” which earned about $138 million. In the U.S. alone the movie musical has earned $143 million.

If you didn’t care for ABBA’s music or the stage show or the movie version, perhaps you might want to think twice and go for simply accepting the great Irving Berlin’s advice to Cole Porter: “Listen, kid, take my advice. Never hate a song that has sold half a million copies!”

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QUITE A GANG gathered at Felidia upstairs the other eve saluting their pal, Sir Howard Stringer, who has just signed a new three-year contract with the multinational Sony Corporation.

But the Felidia guests didn’t care a whit about Howard’s title or his grandeur as the most famous Caucasian ever to run an Asian entity. No, the guests more aptly resemble Penelope in “The Odyssey” as they knit and wait for their ever traveling Odysseus (Howard) to come back “home.’ (He flies more than the average professional pilot, trekking New York to Tokyo to England where his family resides.)

Making wiseracks at Howard’s expense or at his glory were Nora Ephron and Nick Pileggi, Tina Brown and Harry Evans, Barbara Walters, lawyer David Boies (wife Mary is traveling the Middle East), N. Y. School Chancellor Joel Klein and Sony attorney Nicole Seligman, columnist Richard Cohen and psychiatrist Mona Ackerman, the Opera’s Peter Gelb, Arlene and Alan Alda, actor James Naughton and his Pamela. And the recording secretary – me.

Variety noted recently that the financial crunch is taking its toll on the CEO population. However, say they: “Hollywood, though famously neurotic, emerges as a sea of stability. Peter Chernin is about to sign another five year deal atop News Corp. And 66-year-old Howard Stringer has quietly signed on to another stint at Sony, refuting rumors of an imminent retirement.”

Variety notes what an unusual man Howard Stringer is: “Remember, he volunteered for Vietnam as a young man even before he became a U.S. citizen.” (I can personally attest to this. At a birthday party where people were invited to “wear your decorations,” Howard came in his buck private uniform.)

Variety went on: “These days, Stringer’s style is as much ambassadorial as it is corporate. He has built a sense of continuity in his various fiefdoms. At Sony Entertainment, for example, Amy Pascal is entering her 20th year — a remarkable range. Michael Lynton is in his fourth year as chairman and CEO.”

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VIGGO MORTENSEN doesn’t seem to care whether his movie acting career takes off or not, although it did after “Lord of the Rings” and “Eastern Promises.” For the latter, he was Oscar-nominated.

Viggo is busy with his paintings and photographs and has published ten books of poetry, photography and painting. He is a pianist and composer who collaborated with the guitarist Buckhead on seven albums. His pals call him “No-Ego Viggo.” He likes to ride horses, so enjoyed his turn in “Appaloosa.” Viggo speaks English, Spanish, Danish, French, and a bit of Norwegian and Swedish. Probably after we see him in the dramatic and apocalyptic movie “The Road,” he’ll be accepting an Oscar in at least one of those languages.

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