“SOMETIMES IT’S difficult. You’re sitting with an interviewer, usually a man, and you’re saying, ‘Yes, this a lovely story about three generations of women…’ and he says, ‘Yeah, baby, but what about that wet T-shirt?'”
That’s Jacqueline Bisset, laughing heartily, and resigned to the famous image of herself from “The Deep,” drenched, bra-less and timelessly seductive. Jackie was in Manhattan talking up her charming Hallmark movie, “An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving,” which aired Saturday (and airs again Thursday). We meet at the enormous Asiate restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. I arrive early. Miss Bisset suddenly appears. The room stops. Two very young men at the next table gawk. Have they recognized her as the internationally famous movie star? Or are they simply reacting to a beautiful woman? Either way, their expressions are priceless. “I’d just as soon done this in a dark bar,” I say. She replies, “Oh, me too. But the delightful people from Hallmark put me up here, so why not take advantage of it?” She adds, as if reading my mind. “And anyway, I’ve got the good light, the fill light.” “You’re backlit” she says, sympathetically.
Bisset has had a long career, which began in earnest back in 1967 with “Two For The Road” and the same year she was Miss Goodthighs in “Casino Royale.” She began to be taken seriously with Francois Truffaut’s “Day for Night” and then in “Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?” But in-between those movies, she made “The Deep” and contributed iconic images as instantly recognizable as Marilyn on the subway grate. She would make films as varied as a beautiful TV version of “Anna Karenina” and the controversial-in-its-day, “Rich and Famous” with Candice Bergen.
BISSET is about to venture into new territory. Her next film is Linda Yellen’s delicious comedy “The Last Film Festival.” It stars Bisset, Dennis Hopper, Chris Kattan, Jo Beth Williams. Bisset plays a washed-up Italian movie queen, attending what is assuredly the tackiest, low-rent film festival of all time. She uses a rich Italian accent, carries on like a mad thing and is very, very amusing. She neatly walks off with the movie.
IT WAS SRO at the 92nd Street Y the other eve when three old-timers — Gay Talese, Pete Hamill and yours truly got the business onstage from New York 1’s Budd Mishkin. (Gay still uses a typewriter, Pete doesn’t own a cell phone, I have succumbed to computers, but I’d still write with a feather if left alone.) Budd knew more about us than we knew ourselves, so that was fun. It was a treat to be sandwiched between Gay and Pete, two of NYC’s finest newspapermen; also novelists, journalists, editors and all the other things they have been and have done to give meaning to this city. … HBO IN my sights! On Dec. 2, I’ll be at Cipriani on Wall Street, presenting to the legendary documentarian Sheila Nevins the Gotham Award from IFP. Call 212-465-8200 ext. 219. Other winners — Penelope Cruz, Melvin Van Peebles, Gus Van Sant. ….And on Dec. 3, HBO screens “Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven” lauding Sirio Maccioni and his family who’ll give a dinner after. It airs on Dec. 29 end