Hopkins brings ‘Nixon’ to White House

GOOD MORNING: I spoke to two “President Richard Nixons” within minutes of each other Wednesday afternoon. First, to Beau Bridges, the “Nixon” of “Kissinger and Nixon,” the two-hour Turner Network Television special filming in Toronto with Ron Silver as Kissinger, Dan Petrie Sr. directing. And then I received a surprise call from Anthony Hopkins, star of Oliver Stone’s “Nixon” feature for Buena Vista — finale-filming in Washington. Stone had decided to film the last shot in D.C. with Hopkins walking up the steps of the Lincoln monument, opening the scene I watched him shoot last week on Stage 30 at Sony. Hopkins had just come from a 20-minute visit with President Clinton in the Oval Office. The thesp was accompanied to the White House by the movie’s set decorator, Meridith Boswell, a school chum of the President from Arkansas! Clinton asked Hopkins to sit in his chair. “He stood behind me as I made the ‘Nixon sign’ (arms outstretched). I did my Nixon voice. I’m glad he liked it. He’s seen photos of me as Nixon and was pleased. John Blake did my makeup and Sydney Cornell the hair. It takes about 45 minutes. I couldn’t believe I was sitting there in the Oval Office. I feel like a kid in a toy shop. It’s the greatest experience of my working life. I haven’t quite taken it all in yet”… Beau Bridges, from the TNT Toronto location of “Kissinger and Nixon,” spoke to me with his Nixon imitation –“I am not a quitter,” he said. It was right on Nixon’s sound and intonations. Bridges said his makeup takes five hours to apply. Charles Porlier is the makeup artist, using designs created by Kevin Haney. Bridges said he’s been studying Nixon for months, went to the Nixon library, viewed tapes of Nixon in the ’72 time period of the made-for. “This is one of the trickiest roles I’ve ever played,” he admitted, “the most challenging. I’m working behind a mask, not one inch of my face shows. But this is an aspect of theater that goes way back,” he reminded … Ron Silver came on the phone as Kissinger, with an imitation that also was on the button — I first met Dr. K. 20 years ago and would recognize his voice in Times Square on New Year’s Eve! Silver admitted of his Kissinger portrayal, “This is one of the few times I sought a role.” His makeup, by Haney, requires 3 1/2 hours; hair is by James Brown. Silver also says this role is challenging –“to be accurate and imaginative. After all, this is a movie.” He, too, watched countless tapes of Kissinger in 1972-73, the period of the pic. “And I read everything he’s written and that’s been written about him. And I put on 15 pounds for the role!”… In the “Nixon” feature, Paul Sorvino is Kissinger and appears throughout the Oliver Stone movie from the ’60s to 1974, including the prayer scene with Nixon. Sorvino’s Kissinger makeup required about an hour and a half.

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NICE BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR Sandra Bullock –“The Net” post-preem party at the Irwin Winklers’ home. Producer-director Winkler’s wish for Bullock, “that she stay as sweet as she is,” a sentiment shared by all who work with the successful youngstar. Columbia’s Mark Canton was pleased with the pic’s big look — said Winkler brought it in for $22 million. Cast members on hand getting congrats included Dennis Miller, Jeremy Northam, Diane Baker (with Michael Lerner), Ken Howard and cameo player-producer Gene Kirkwood, who started with Winkler (and Bob Chartoff) in ’74, through the “Rocky” era, “New York, New York,” etc. He cameos in all Winkler’s pics. “He’s my good-luck charm,” said Irwin … The industry heavyweights in the Winklers’ supper garden party catered by Spago included Michael Ovitz and Ron Meyer at the same table, sitting on either side of Ivan Reitman, who’s producing “The Late Shift”– and who asked Ovitz to play himself. Meyer is making a quiet, sans-fanfare departure from CAA to MCA even as we speak.

THE LOUIS B. MAYER THEATER at the MPTV Country House is the site Monday nights for Lynn Redgrave’s free “Shakespeare Master Class” for professionals — the residents are the appreciative audience. Redgrave originated the program at the Canon in BevHills when she was starring in “Shakespeare for My Father” and has resumed the class in the Valley now that she’s returned from filming “Shine” in Australia … Whoopi Goldberg was brought onstage to do a set at the Comedy Store by Carlos Mencia. Damon Wayans got onstage in the Original Room … Newest additions to the Hollywood Walk of Fame will be Elmer Bernstein, Danny Glover, Cicely Tyson, David Hasselhoff, Florence Henderson, Charles M. Schulz, George Benson, Whitney Houston, Buddy Hackett, Hal Holbrook, Ray Walston and Bob Eubanks.