Snark: An old Hollywood tradition

High marks for 'Eagle' gal; Mirren set for stage

A LOT of Hollywood traditions have died, but bitchy snark is alive and well. Last week at the big Hollywood event celebrating film producer Arnon Milchan, Warren Beatty was spotted planting an affectionate kiss on Sumner Redstone’s head. Another industry insider standing nearby said (and loud enough for Beatty to hear), “Since he hasn’t made a movie in years, maybe he should be kissing Redstone’s ass.”

It is true, Warren hasn’t appeared in a movie since 2001’s “Town & Country” but I doubt this icon of acting, producing and directing is worrying about his career. In fact, Beatty stopping worrying his career in 1992 when he made the divine Annette Bening his wife and sired four beautiful children.

Among those spotted at the Milchan fete — which also celebrated Israel’s 60th anniversary — was Kiefer Sutherland who has just signed a contract for three more seasons of “24.” Rumor has it that Kiefer is now the highest paid actor on a TV drama, to the tune of a $40 million deal. But when asked for specifics he smiled and said, “Honestly, I don’t think that’s so.”

ELIZABETH TAYLOR always reminds people that just because the current drug regimens seem to be working, that doesn’t mean the AIDS crisis is over. Not here, and certainly not in Africa and Asia. I think this continued involvement in AIDS work is a big part of what keeps Elizabeth alive. She always says, “I thought my continuing fame was ridiculous — why did people stay interested?! And then when AIDS happened, and I saw that being ‘Elizabeth Taylor’ was a help, I appreciated every scandalous headline, every invasion of privacy, every foolish action or excess on my part that kept the press hounding me. Fame, which was for so long a mystery and a joke, became a good thing, 40 years after I achieved it.”

Today, La Liz is expected to appear at the annual Passports AIDS gala at Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport.

WOMAN OF POWER: That’s Michelle Monaghan, to be seen Friday opposite Shia LaBeouf in the action flick, “Eagle Eye.” LaBeouf raves: “Michelle is a warrior! I have done some gnarly stunts in the last couple of years and even I can’t do the stuff Michelle’s doing. At one point it was 2 a.m., we were delirious and I tried to do some stunt and it was impossible. She does a stunt, gets up giggling and there I am sitting with my elbow hurting. That’s when she offers me a cookie and tells me to man it up!” Alas, Shia is having an even harder time “manning it up” on the set of “Transformers 2” thanks to his arm getting busted up badly in a car crash recently. The injury has been written into the script.

ON OCT. 6 “Broadway Up Close” honors those Great White Way giants Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones. Estelle Parsons, Karen Ziemba, Dick Latessa and Susan Watson, the original girl from “The Fantasticks,” are paying tribute. Then, Marge Champion, 89, and Donald Sadler, 88, will offer a brand new dance routine. Call 212 – 501-3330. You’ll seldom see the likes of this again.

THE GREATEST queen of them all – actress Helen Mirren — is returning to the British stage come next summer. She will play the lead in Racine’s tragedy, “Phaedra” at the National Theater, to be directed by Nicholas Hytner.

Speaking of that, I was rushing through the Chicago airport this week when someone kept calling my name. Turned out to be Kevin Spacey, who had just been to the Emmys — where he didn’t win for “Recount.” But Kevin certainly isn’t down for the count. This terrific actor was on his way back to London where he runs the Old Vic. “Smartest thing I ever did in my life,” he opined.

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