Cannes kicks off this week

THEY PUT Jane Fonda’s caricature up in Sardi’s famous theater restaurant this week. And all because of her current Tony-nominated performance on Broadway in “33 Variations,” a show that she herself produced. It’s taken only 46 years for Jane Fonda, a household name, to make it up on the walls at the house of hams and cannelloni. (It was back in 1960 that Jane made her theater debut in “There Was a Little Girl.”)

And this reminds me of a story. I was lunching in Sardi’s not long ago with my godchild, Spencer, and his mother, Cynthia McFadden, and we were wondering if the caricature of Katharine Hepburn still was there in the restaurant? Spencer decided he wanted to see it because he remembered his “Aunt Katty” from the years just before her death. We asked the headwaiter and he found us the great Kate’s drawing, even bringing it to our table. “Would you like to have it during lunch?” asked the man. He then brought up a chair next to Spencer and stood Miss Hepburn’s framed likeness in it. We lunched with Katharine Hepburn that day and we all enjoyed the visit.

LITERACY PARTNERS hit the jackpot the other night with its authors’ readings in Lincoln Center’s new David H. Koch Theater (formerly the State Theater.) By the end of the evening — and with Sony sweetening the auction deal by providing dozens of the latest Sony Reader — they had raised $1,150,000 plus. Barbara Walters, David Wroblewski, Marie Brenner and Christopher Buckley were our stars. They wrangled the audience from tears to laughter. One of our student readers, Emma Davis, slayed us by telling how she is now going for her PhD. The wonderful playwright Stephen Daldry stepped up to accept an award for Kate Winslet and their movie, “The Reader.” (Kate studied with Literacy Partners for the role and won an Oscar.) As the host of Literacy, along with Arnold Scaasi and Parker Ladd, I had an easy job and also, I got to dance with the nine-times Tony-winner Tommy Tune when the Bob Hardwick Orchestra began to play. (And Tommy never dances except for money as a rule.)

WHAT TO expect if you go to the Cannes Film Festival, which began in the South of France Wednesday.

Remember, the Academy Awards are still nine months down the road. But one early contender may well be Jane Campion’s movie “Bright Star,” starring Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish. This is about a romance that took place between the poet John Keats and one Fanny Brawne.

Rumor has it that the big appearances will come from Brad Pitt who has a new film by Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds.” (sic) These two men will stop traffic on the Croisette.

Another big star is to be last year’s Oscar winner, Penelope Cruz, coming now with Pedro Almodovar’s “Broken Embraces.” A lot of people never dreamed this girl would become a star; for ages they just thought of her as someone brought to public attention by Tom Cruise. Well, she hasn’t had Almodovar and Woody Allen in her corner for nothing. Now she’s BIG! Some say bigger than Tom Cruise!

Cannes this year will embrace a lot of foreign film directors, but the U.S. will have its own moments with “Angels and Demons” starring Tom Hanks and possibly the new “Star Trek” or other U.S. blockbuster movies. On the other hand, there is great curiosity about Danish director Lars von Trier’s “AntiChrist,” which is probably going to be X-rated.

Be sure you get the right kind of ID badge to wear. You need white to get utter access. Pink means you can go to all the screenings if you queue up. Blue means you’ll take what you can get or crash into.

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