Soderbergh bares ‘Full Frontal’

GOOD MORNING: “Film is here to stay,” director Steven Soderbergh assured me after the preem of his digitally filmed (mostly) “Full Frontal,” at the Fine Arts theater on Wilshire Boulevard. In all fairness, the low-budget ($2 million) pic’s no real test of the potential of “new technology,” instead, it is used as one of the characters in the film and as such often looks like home movies. But the in crowd at the preem seemed to dig Soderbergh’s “in” references throughout the movie-within-a-movie stories and laughed at opening credits of the movie-within-the-movie. It was only at the finale, when Soderbergh’s name and real credits came on screen, that they fully applauded. Whether general audiences will get it is problematic … Attendance again illustrated that the family that plays together stays together, as alumni of Soderbergh’s previous pix were on hand in force — led by three-time player Julia Roberts. The beaming bride arrived at the screening solo, and explained to me that her new hubby, cinematographer Daniel Moder, was filming a Burger King commercial. He showed later at the post party held, appropriately, at L’Ermitage Hotel where much of the 18-day shoot was filmed. No screen credit was given the hotel — it was intentional by general manager Jack Naderkhani, who said he didn’t want lookie-loo tourists who want to see where an all-star movie was filmed. This is Roberts’ second star assist to hotel fame, the Beverly Wilshire being the site of her “Pretty Woman” … While the name cast is large, among the missing is Harvey Weinstein, who, Soderbergh told me, “made himself totally unavailable,” while thesp Patrick Fischler, a Weinstein look-alike, plays “Harvey probably.” … Jerry Weintraub, Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s Eleven” producer, happily worked one day in the film.

ALL SCENES INVOLVING JULIA ROBERTS and Blair Underwood were saved up for the final six days of filming, Underwood reported. All the players enjoyed the digital filming portions, as no set-up time was required and thesps could work almost nonstop — as in the theater, David Hyde Pierce enthused … Further illustration of the “family” attendance was “Ocean’s” George Clooney. He was there along with Sam Rockwell, star of Clooney’s “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” the Chuck Barris story in which Clooney, Julia and Brad Pitt appear. Pitt cameos in a Robert Culp-like bit with Underwood in “Full Frontal” … Clooney’s comic comment on this pic: “I think there needs to be more nudity.” (There’s none.) Underwood heads to comedy next in WB’s “Malibu Most Wanted,” in which he’s the campaign manager of a (white) gubernatorial candidate whose son wants to be a rapper.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GETS A HEFTY airing on TV thanks to NBC projects starring Fred Dryer. Already announced to return to his “Hunter” character in two of the web’s upcoming telepix, he’s also gotten a go from NBC on a script order for a pilot on “Driving Bradford.” Dryer was at La Jolla Cove looking out at the Pacific when we spoke Wednesday on the “Hunter” location, the first to shoot in the San Diego area. “Bradford” sets him as a private eye in — Palm Springs, where he’s partnered with/driven by a 20-year-old assistant. “We’ll be bridging the generation gap,” he tells me. Par TV’s Garry Hart is heartily enthused abut Dryer and the “Bradford” series … On Sept. 11, the N.Y. Indie Fest was to preem Alex Hyde-White’s first production, “Pursuit of Happiness.” It now will bow Saturday at the Stony Brook Film Fest. White’s developing “Finding Jenua” for a spring start in North Carolina with Diane Keaton and John Putch co-producing with him … The big “L.A. Latin Festival” sequence in “Papi Chulo,” Fox 2000’s romantic comedy aimed at the Hispanic market, will film in Pan Pacific Park next Tuesday through Friday with an audience of 1,000 on hand. The performers: Roselyn Sanchez, Sofia Vegara and Jaci Velasquez backed by Shelia. And joining in the final week of the pic’s production will be Carlos Ponce.

THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION of the end of the Korean War will be m.c’d Saturday by Ed McMahon, Col., USMC (retired), who flew 85 combat missions in the war. The show at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall will feature Rita Coolidge and the “President’s’ Own” Marine Band. Ed has a new radio show, “Ed McMahon’s Lifestyles Live,” on the USA Radio Network … Blake Edwards is birthday-partied by Julie Andrews and family in Las Vegas Friday … Siegfried and Roy film a commercial for Sprint today — in a store in the heart of Las Vegas … Muhammad Ali has forged an alliance with General Motors and he’ll be a part of their vidcampaign for their Denali SUV. The commercials will feature footage of the champ in his prime. Both the above deals were made by longtime manager and friend Bernie Yuman … UCLA’s Film & TV Archive’s Festival of Preservation kicks off with the newly restored “Barefoot Contessa” (1954) tonight at the DGA … Michael Helfant, senior executive vice president of Dimension Films, is vice chairman of the Aug. 25 “L’Chaim — To Life!” Chabad telethon airing live across the country — KCAL in L.A., WLNY-55 in N.Y. Jerry Weintraub co-chairs with Marshall Grossman. Jerry and Jefferson Cutler return for the 22nd year as the telethon’s producers … The Nov. 20 Environmental Media Assn. honors TV and films at the Wilshire Ebell. Toyota sponsors and the feed that follows is a totally organic menu … With the mercury soaring, the annual search for a “Hunky Santa” launches today in L.A.’s Beverly Center. Bring your sweat pants and a bright red top. P.S. Last year’s Yule lad had 18½” biceps.

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