Christian Bale loses himself in role

Observer fighting for its life

“DON’T DIG your grave with your own knife and fork,” goes the English proverb.

And don’t dig your grave by not using a knife and fork. Friends of actor Christian Bale — such as his current co-star Mark Wahlberg — are worried that Bale’s infamous penchant for losing and gaining tremendous amounts of weight in order to conform to his idea of what a character should look like, is downright dangerous.

Bale is on another losing streak, having dropped about 30 pounds to play a drug addict in “The Fighter.” He’s eating nothing but melons, some other fruits and water. He looks like death. You remember that Bale lost even more, becoming positively corpse-like for his role as the insomniac in “The Machinist.” Then he bulks up again — hours straining in the gym — for one of the Batman movies. Then down again.

As far as I’m concerned this isn’t “acting,” it’s some Method form of masochism and sort of stunt-like. And I pretty much feel this way about all actors who punish their bodies so. There are such things as make-up and lighting and padding. Oh, and acting. (For instance, if a beautiful actress has to be plain, that doesn’t require rubber features. Take all the make-up off and shoot her without filters. Voila! No longer so lovely.)

Of course Bale is paying no attention. If he goes into a screaming fit on this movie, don’t anybody take it personally. The guy just needs a cheeseburger.

BAD NEWS from London: The famed Observer, one of the most venerable institutions in international journalism, is fighting for its life and may go under.

Even its critics say this would be “an inglorious end for a newspaper that has been published since 1791.” Maybe the English branch of the Astors, who used to own the Observer, will ride to its rescue, but don’t hold your breath.

THOSE OF you who thrilled to Hugh Jackman onstage in Broadway’s “The Boy from Oz” will remember the actress who played Judy Garland in that musical epic. She is actress Isabel Keating, one of the unsung heroines of theater.

Now we can see Ms. Keating again in Primary Stages 25th anniversary season where they kick off the works of three women playwrights. The actors — Jennifer Westfeldt, Christina Kirk, Raul Castillo and Ms. Keating, directed by Pam MacKinnon, open August 11 at 59 East 59th Street. They’ll present the world premiere of Cusi Cram’s “A Lifetime Burning.”

The storyline is about the writer of a fake memoir and what happens to her in this dark comedy of legacy, loyalty and what it means to belong.

Star of the proceedings is actress Westfeldt who plays the bruising, powerful leading role. Here is another one of my unsung heroines and favorites. Jennifer is the talent who created and starred in the cult movie “Kissing Jessica Stein.” It is ironic, I suppose, that she has become even better known for kissing Jon Hamm of “Mad Men” fame. They are a longtime real-life item.