‘Money’ screens in Manhattan

PR’S QUEEN of the night, Peggy Siegal, introduced director Nicole Holofcener’s new film, “Friends with Money” at the MGM screening room. There was a nice mix of Manhattan and L.A. media movers and shakers gathered for the screening — Howard Stringer, Lara Spencer, Perri Peltz and Felicia Taylor of local TV, Variety‘s Peter Bart, Janice Roland of Falco PR, novelist Lauren Weisberger, Patricia Clarkson, Catherine Keener, who is one of the stars of the movie, and several dozen more. … When Holofcener spoke before the lights dimmed, she was charmingly flustered: “Um … I think I need to explain. Maybe it’s been misunderstood in advance. It’s not a fall down laughing movie, but it is funny … oh, Catherine Keener told me not to say this. I mean, it’s a little depressing maybe.” At this point “Capote” Oscar nominee Keener called out from the back, laughing, “Nicole, I warned you, I’m leaving!” Holofcener let out a big laugh herself and continued. “OK, it is depressing. It’s Russian depressing. With subtitles!”

SITTING IN AMY Irving’s dressing room at Primary Stages, where she is portraying the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Elizabeth Bishop, one is struck by how she and Bishop represent — parallel lines. Both had/have a passion for life and both love/loved a remote country. The play is “A Safe Harbor for Elizabeth Bishop.” It runs through April 30, but is on a neat collision course with the publication of a new book on the poetry genius, “Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts, and Fragments” by Elizabeth Bishop. … Both Bishop and Irving have lived in and loved Brazil. Says Amy, “Doing this solo piece keeps me in touch with both myself and Bishop, whom I have grown to adore — both her writing and her life. One of the greatest books is the volume of letters she wrote … that reads like a wonder-filled historical autobiography. I even went back to Sao Paulo and visited her home.”

ANTHONY HOPKINS HAS just composed his first symphony. The Oscar winner, who wrote part of the score for his 1996 movie “August,” is modest but determined. He says, “I’ve listened to a couple of bars of my symphony and it would seem I’m not too bad. … Anyone can be an actor these days, especially in the cinema. But my dream has always been to be as musically talented as Beethoven.” He plays piano for two hours every day, but says he lacks the skill to play at concert level.

OFF-BROADWAY at the Cherry Lane, Mike Nichols has poured heart and soul into presenting “On the Line” for a limited run through April 23. It’s the story of three lifelong pals growing up in a changing world. Mike really believes in the young playwright, Joe Roland, one of his students. … Isaac Mizrahi, costuming the upcoming “Threepenny Opera,” raves about Nellie McKay, who, he says, is “beyond brilliant.” But it seems McKay won’t allow a feather, shell, bone, shred of silk, fur or leather near her body. Isaac managed her costume out of plastics, cotton and air.

CHARLOTTE RAMPLING made a dent in many a U.S. heart back in her cinema heyday when she was making movies such as 1969’s “The Damned.” She has never stopped working, and only a few years ago had a major, sexy resurgence with “Swimming Pool.” (Rampling appears in “Basic Instinct 2” and gives Sharon Stone a run for her money in the seasoned sensuality sweepstakes. And she doesn’t remove a stitch.) Now, at age 60, Rampling is reported working on an autobiography for Bloomsbury. In this, she will tell-all about such life lessons as her Parisian menage a trois with her first husband, Bryan Southcombe, and a male model. In 1975 Charlotte succumbed to more conventional duets when she met French musician, Jean-Michel Jarre at a dinner party. She left Southcombe the very next day! Even if Rampling doesn’t tell all, a little should be a hot read anyway.

SUNDAY thru Thursday, the History Channel shows its compelling “10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America” series. This one is surprising and includes the California Gold Rush and McKinley’s assassination as well as plenty of other incidents … Also on Sunday, “The Gospel of Judas,” which purports to show us the authentic carbon-dated manuscript of a book definitely left out of the New Testament. This gives a new view of the villain who betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Judas Iscariot is given a makeover as the deus ex machina behind the Crucifixion, necessary for the Resurrection and the beginning of Chistianity. These documentaries are absolutely marvelous.

I AM FASCINATED by the continued bashing on conservative TV and radio of the soon due “The Da Vinci Code.” The movie is an anti-religion “plot” by Hollywood they say. This theory neatly sidesteps the incredible continued success of Dan Brown’s novel. If Hollywood is against religion, they have an awful lot of company among American readers. Tom Hanks is off to Japan for a preview kick-off promotion for “Da Vinci” no matter what some people are saying. And, when the highly expected film bows in Cannes on May 17 (and then worldwide on May 19), they will send the “Eurostar” train — which usually goes from Waterloo Station to Paris — from Waterloo to Cannes instead!