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Julia Roberts is back in the spotlight

Critics turn on Dame Judi Dench

JULIA ROBERTS is the revived movie star of the hour with her appearance in “Duplicity,” co-starring Clive Owen. But Julia insists she is no longer catnip for the paparazzi. “Not many follow me now. It’s just the slow ones who haven’t yet figured out I’m not the one to follow.” What next for Julia? Well, she has a movie coming soon which she made two years ago, with her husband Danny Moder as the director of photography. It is a family drama called “Fireflies in the Garden.”

THE BRITS seem to have turned against their pet favorite Dame Judi Dench. One critic refers to her now as “a magnificent and once discriminating actress whose reputation alone can turn a show into a guaranteed hit.” Then he refers to her “formidable old boot mode (which) she has honed playing such roles as Queen Victoria, Lady Bracknell, Elizabeth I and M in the Bond movies.” Since this critique, Judi sprained her leg and is functioning onstage with a cane, performing in “Madame de Sade,” a play by the late Yukio Mishima. The critics hated that too. (I think they’re just mad that Dame Judi Dench has made pots of money of late in commercial movies as 007’s boss. Actors are supposed to starve, you know.)

THE WIZARD actress Debra Winger, who says she didn’t make a comeback in “Rachel Getting Married” because she had never retired, has this analysis of current moviemaking: “I find it sort of hair-raising … celebrities are pulling the films along with them to hold them up. It used to be that the film was the thing — the film opened and we showed up to support it. Now it’s all about the red carpet and celebrity. This stupidity about celebrity is just crazy. We just need to stop feeding it so much and start to talk about real things again.”

I WANT TO encourage young and old, women and men, but especially young women, to see Dan Gordon’s engrossing and enlivening play, “Irena’s Vow” at the Walter Kerr Theatre. It’s all about a courageous young woman who lived through the hell of the Holocaust in World War II. The story brings a message of faith, love and hope that good can triumph over evil. As Irena, Tovah Feldshuh, becomes a personal treasure in a story that is now deservedly preserved forever. Ms. Feldshuh, one of our finest actresses, is obviously so inspired by the drama of the story that she is more beautiful and youthful than one can believe. She has been on Broadway for more than 35 years (she’s the original “Yentl” before Barbra and before the musical), and she is four times Tony nominated. There’s buzz of a film version of “Irena’s Vow” and even if Tovah doesn’t win the role on screen, she may have a Tony to keep her warm. Mazeltov! To the producers of this inspired play.

JACQUELINE BISSET! The famous star’s Thanksgiving film for the Hallmark channel, “Home for the Holidays,” became the highest rated original drama in Hallmark’s history. And her episode arc on the perverse FOX series “Nip/Tuck” resulted in high ratings for that show. Now CBS has signed Bisset for a pilot, “The Eastman,” which they hope will become a staple — it’ll showcase the traumas of a wealthy family connected to the medical field. Jackie will be the female lead. When I interviewed Bisset a few months back, she said she wouldn’t mind the grind of a TV series, though she was thinking about comedy. (She is hilarious in Linda Yellen’s upcoming indie “The Last Film Festival,” as a neurotic movie queen looking for a comeback; a star turn that is quite the opposite of the down-to-earth, realistic Miss B.) Jackie’s first role in a movie was an un-credited bit in 1965’s “The Knack…And How To Get It.” She got it!

MARY TYLER MOORE! She has won Emmys, she has been Oscar-nominated (for “Ordinary People”.) She has, without fail, turned the world on with her smile ever since her days as TV’s sexiest, Capri-clad, suburban-wife-and-mom on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” So, if you love MTM, grab tickets now for her 92nd Street Y appearance April 2. Mary will talk about her long career and her new memoir, “Growing Up Again: Life, Loves and Oh, Yeah, Diabetes.” Call 212-415-5500 or log onto 92Y.org.

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