Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”
Emma Stone may be taking on the role of Cruella de Vil in Disney’s “Cruella,” but that doesn’t mean Glenn Close is done playing the Disney villain. “I have a great story to make another Cruella with my Cruella,” Close tells me. She’s tightlipped about details but teases, “Cruella comes to New York and disappears down the sewers.”
Close is currently promoting “Transformation: Personal Stories of Change, Acceptance, and Evolution,” a collaborative jazz album with reedist Ted Nash. Close curated and voiced some of the literary source material for the project’s spoken word performances, while Nash composed the music. “I used to be intimidated by jazz,” Close says. “Now I feel it is an absolute expression of what it means to be a human being.” The album was inspired by their “Transformation” show, which staged for three nights just before the onset of the pandemic at Jazz at Lincoln Center. “The CD is the best of the three nights,” Close says. While she doesn’t consider herself a musician, Close says she has dreams of playing the electric bass. “I have a fabulous red Gibson electric bass and I’ve taken lessons,” she says. “I just want to be in the background being cool wearing a great hat.”
“Transformation” could lead to another Grammy nomination. Not that she was aware of that. When I mention her three previous noms, Close says, “Are you kidding me? For what?” She earned two noms for best recording for children and one for spoken word. “Quoting Wynton Marsalis, he said, ‘Ted is at the top of his game,’” Close says. “That would be so exciting. I really want to get this out into the world.”
And yes, she wouldn’t mind some more “Da Butt” in her life. Following the viral twerking of her self-described “sparkly rump” at the Oscars, Close says, “I want to do a music video, but you have to be over 70 to be in it. It’s everyone over 70 just fucking rocking it with da butts.”
As COVID restrictions ease up, Close is hopeful that she’ll finally be able to reprise her role as Norma Desmond in Paramount’s movie adaptation of the Broadway musical “Sunset Boulevard.” “We’re very very close,” she says. “We’re ready to go.” She says Andrew Lloyd Webber is still working on new music for the big screen version. “I feel passionate about it. I feel if I could just bring her home to the movies, I don’t give a shit what I do for the rest of my life. I’ll play grandmothers until I die.”
Monica Lewinsky is not a producer in name only on “Impeachment: American Crime Story,” Ryan Murphy’s upcoming series about President Bill Clinton’s impeachment. “She’s involved with every script, gives a lot of insights and thoughts,” Murphy told me at the “Pose” premiere in New York City. He added, “The great thing about the story that we’re telling is it’s Monica’s story, which I think needs to be told. Just like [in ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson’] we showed Marcia Clark in a different way, that’s what we’re doing with Monica.”
It’s been about eight years since Michael B. Jordan auditioned for J.J. Abrams for “Star Wars: Episode VII.” “I think that was probably my worst audition to date,” the “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse” star tells me on this week’s “Just for Variety” podcast. He explained, “I think it was I couldn’t wrap my brain around some of the sides because you know when you’re reading for these high-level projects, there’s never really any specificity in the sides. Everything’s like super vague; everything is in secret. Reading through, I just couldn’t connect it. I definitely bombed that one for sure.”
Sighting: Ellen DeGeneres and James Corden having dinner last night at Sunset Tower’s Tower Bar.
Speaking of bad auditions, Scott Eastwood says he blew his chance to play Edward in the “Twilight” franchise. “I remember thinking, ‘This is stupid! I don’t even know why I am on this audition. This is such a YA movie,’” Eastwood tells me. “I don’t think I really tried all that hard, and it was just like, I’m going to just do it and go through the motions. Then the movie turns into seven movies and Robert Pattinson has made a quadrillion dollars.” Eastwood adds, laughing, “Then I was thinking, ‘Ya may have wanted to try maybe just a little bit.’”
“Wrath of Man,” an action movie directed and co-written by Guy Ritchie, tells the story of a man (Jason Statham) who joins a security company to settle a score with a group of former soldiers. To avoid spoilers, I won’t reveal Eastwood’s part, but I could tell you that his scenes are pure Ritchie action. “In the early days in my career, I was fully gung ho, I wanted to do everything, it wasn’t cool if I was doing it all,” Eastwood says of stunt work. “I think as I get older, I try to work a little smarter. There’s certain things where it’s like there’s a reason why these stunt guys are such bad asses. When you throw yourself off a building, or you’re jumping from a car to another car, these things are fun and I’ve done them, and I will continue to do as much as I can. But then there’s times where you go, ‘Let’s not push it. You’re not as young as you once were. my lower back can’t take it.’”
J Balvin is ready for his close-up. As the Colombian singer’s documentary “The Boy From Medellín” is set to premiere May 7 on Amazon Prime Video, he’s looking to dip into acting. “If you’re a good artist, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be a good actor,” he told me at the Vax Live concert. “You have to respect different arts and see if you are capable of doing it right.” Even so, he has a role in mind: “I’ll be a good bad boy.”
Sean Penn and his CORE co-founder Ann Lee are teaming up with Christie’s Auction House to raise money for the non-profit. Artists Rashid Johnson, Urs Fischer and Joel Mesler have donated works to be auctioned off during Christie’s 21st Century Evening Sale on May 11 in New York City. A piece by Chuck Close will be offered during the post-war and contemporary art day sale on May 14. Proceeds will go to CORE’s COVID-19 programs in Los Angeles, Navajo Nation, Washington D.C., Chicago, New Orleans, Georgia and North Carolina.
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