Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Friday, January 23, 2004

Okay, I stole this from umm... Never let it be said I don't give credit
Chicago Sun-Times
Clashing Pink, Blu battle over Lee
January 22, 2004

SKIN GAME: One thing about St. Barth's -- that ultra-exclusive Caribbean isle favored by celebs ranging from David Letterman to Sean "P. Diddy" Combs -- it's hard to vacation there without spotting famous faces.

Last year, I ran into Rod Stewart and Rob Lowe. Last week's jaunt yielded Steve Martin (who maintains a house on the island) and his frequent comedy co-star Martin Short.

Hope the "Cheaper By the Dozen" star didn't think I was stalking him, after running into him four times in two days -- lunching, dining, shopping and on the glorious Saline Beach, where he proved he qualifies as the poster boy for dermatologists everywhere.

Even though spending a lot of time in St. Barth's, Martin clearly avoids that intense, tropical sun. He was -- by far -- the whitest white man I've ever seen on a beach!
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

More Steve on his lovelife,,270114_579308,00.html
Lonely Steve Martin: I can't find Mrs. Right
(Gossip from The Star)

STEVE MARTIN'S a wild, crazy and lonely guy.

The Bringing Down the House star is desperately seeking the right woman to share his life, home and King Tut jokes. "If I could find the right lady, I would definitely get married again," says the funnyman, 57, who was divorced from actress-wife Victoria Tennant in 1994.

"I love the idea of being married. The problem is finding the right person."

The Father of the Bride wants to take his own walk down the aisle again -- despite painful ending to his eight-year marriage to Tennant.

"I've cried over ended relationships," confesses Martin, who also dated Anne Heche before she hooked up with lesbian galpal Ellen DeGeneres. "Breaking up with someone you love is as torturous for men as it is for women. We are all fragile. We all cry."

The zany Oscars host -- most recently linked with Anne Stringfield, 31, who works at The New Yorker magazine -- says his ideal woman is someone who likes to yuk it up.

"As long as a woman can laugh with me," he says, "I don't care if she's a blonde, brunette or whatever."

A bit about Steve on St. Barts

I sure would like to know what the picture looked like.

Sunday Mirror
January 18, 2004, Sunday



We spy Jude Law (right) returning from a Tramps Anonymous meeting, while Ronan Keating's massive shoes seem to have a mind of their own. Below, Jordan finds another excuse to flash even more flesh

Poor Uma Thurman must be hoping for more uplifting times in 2004...

Debbie Harry does the dance of bad taste to ward off evil stylists

Steve Martin finds sea water a little crunchy

Pop bird Cheryl Tweedy shows off her funky chicken dance. We hear it packs quite a punch...

John McEuen and some about Steve

The Denver Post
January 18, 2004 Sunday FINAL EDITION
INSIDE STORY FULL CIRCLE John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and local musician friends get together for a semi-homecoming at Denver's Swallow Hill
Ed Will, Denver Post Staff Writer

Musician John McEuen sees circles and continuations when he reflects on his groundbreaking career that is now in its fifth decade.

They are as obvious as they are understandable: his Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's seminal 1972 album 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken'; a high-school friendship and professional collaborations with actor Steve Martin; an upcoming DreamWorks CD from one of his sons and a son of a bandmate.

And for Denver-area fans, this: local musicians whom McEuen has known for years - plus one of his sons - joining him for a Saturday-evening concert at Swallow Hill.

Even the concert fits the theme, with McEuen calling it a semi-homecoming. His first solo gigs were in 1976 at the Oxford Hotel in LoDo, back before it was called LoDo.

The hotel was one of the first Denver venues to book acoustic acts. It gave McEuen a chance to display his jack-of-all-strings virtuosity on guitar, banjo, fiddle and mandolin that gained him the moniker 'America's instrumental poet.'

'What I am bringing there (Swallow Hill) is part of just this continuation of 'Circle' music,' McEuen said. 'We will be doing a bunch of it with these guys that are not just great musicians but wonderful friends.'

One of them is Jerry Mills of the veteran Denver band Southern Exposure, a man linked to what Chuck Morris, the Dirt Band's longtime manager, recalls as one of the group's finest live performances ever.

It happened in 1971 at the Dirt Band's first appearance at Tulagi, a legendary bar that Morris co-owned and ran on University Hill in Boulder.

The club's dressing room shared the upstairs with its deli. To go backstage, entertainers went outside and walked across the club's roof, said Morris, who doubles as the regional head Clear Channel Entertainment.

On the night in question, ice covered the roof.

'Les Thompson, who was their regular bass player, fell on the ice and broke about four teeth and couldn't play,' Morris said. 'I called a friend of mine named Jerry Mills, who knew all their music and sort of knew the band a little bit.'

Morris offered ticket refunds to any disappointed fan, but no one accepted his offer after a memorable 3 1/2 -hour show, he said.

'It was one of the greatest shows I have I ever seen of them in their whole career, including now,' Morris said. 'It was incredible. That was my first experience with the Dirt Band.'

At the time, the California-based band had been together five years but only toured outside California for about a year. Soon, it pulled up stakes and relocated to Colorado.

Later in 1971, Tulagi was the scene of the actual start of 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken.'

'Earl Scruggs was playing there,' McEuen said. 'One night, I asked him if he would record with my band. And he said, 'I'd be proud to.' Then two weeks later, Chuck had Doc Watson at Tulagi. I was a little bolder. I said, 'We're making an album with Earl Scruggs,' which we weren't really at the time - yet. And Doc said, 'Well, I'd be glad to pick on it if Earl's going to be there.''

Early in his career, McEuen had come to believe that all American music, past and present, is and should remain a continuous circle.

That belief grew into 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken,' which is accepted as one of the best and most important country albums of all time. ('Circle, Vol. 2' in 1989 and 'Circle, Vol. 3' in 2002 also recieved critical praise.)

The first album introduced some of country's most historically significant acts and their music to a new generation. The all-star lineup included Doc Watson, Jimmy Martin, Merle Travis, Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, Mother Maybelle Carter and Vassar Clements, among other luminaries.

Recorded at a time when a generational divide had riven the country, one of the album's signal accomplishments was showing how music could create a cultural bridge.

That principle of musical inclusiveness also has played a major role in the longevity of a band whose 38 years have been marked by such hits as 'Mr. Bojangles' and 'Buy For Me the Rain.'

'That is what it all gets down to, paying reverence to the fact we have an incredible music heritage that doesn't have to be but could be just purely American music,' said Jim Ratts of the Denver band Runaway Express. 'The Dirt Band, those guys were Americana before there was an Americana chart.' Ratts is another McEuen friend set to play with him Saturday.

Morris has had three decades to ponder the Dirt Band's appeal.

'What I think it is, is what they do can't be classified,' he said. 'They had a song called 'Partners Brothers and Friends,' which is sort of an autobiographical song that they wrote. One of the lines in that song is, 'Is it folk or rock or country; Seems like everybody cares but us.'

'I think that is so true. What comes out comes out. They have such integrity about their music, and they blend so many different things. There is not another one like them.'

Morris said the second reason the band has stayed popular is that it is one of the great live bands of all time.

'They've had years when they didn't make records,' he said. 'They've had years when they made records that weren't the greatest thing in the word. But their live show on stage has been for 35 years just an amazing thing to watch.'

McEuen first took the stage at age 15 as a magician. He knew right off that he enjoyed being in front of people.

'Basically, I was kind of a nerd in school,' he said. 'I moved a few times growing up in that era of my life, and I do remember that I would be at a new school and it didn't take more than two days for me to hear the phrase, 'OK. Who gets McEuen?'a I would be thinking to myself, 'How did the find out so quick that I can't hit?''

Music made magic disappear when the 17-year-old McEuen attended a performance by the Dillards, the legendary bluegrass group.

'They were my window to a different world,' he said. 'It was that epiphany kind of thing.'

He set out to learn how to play bluegrass music. A friend named Steve Martin also was trying to master the banjo.

Like McEuen, Martin was a teenage magician. They worked together at the Disneyland magic shop for two years.

'Starting around our senior year, we played (bluegrass) as much as we possibly could,' McEuen said. 'I would learn a song off a record, and I'd tell him at work that I figured out such and such (song). He'd go, 'I'll be over after work.''

Using a banjo and the song 'Foggy Mountain Breakdown,' McEuen then demonstrated over the telephone how many of those teenage sessions went, playing beautifully for 10 seconds and then breaking into voice-over commentary: 'He'd (Martin) go 'Oh, I got that.' Then about here, he'd go, 'That's enough.' Then he would go (the banjo music no longer sounding like 'Foggy' or any known song, for that matter).

'He'd get the first half and then just take off on something in banana land. But he really is a fine banjo picker.'

The friends would share many stages. Early in his career, Martin opened dozens of shows for the Dirt Band.

The group later appeared as Martin's musical guests on 'Saturday Night Live.' In addition, the band, using the pseudonym the Toot Uncommons, backed Martin on his hit single 'King Tut.'
Morris said the Dirt Band is set to sign a new record deal with Dualtone. (Along with McEuen, band members include Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden, Jimmy Ibbotson and Bob Carpenter.)

Morris also manages Dirt Band offspring Jonathan McEuen and Jamie Hanna, who have created a buzz in Nashville with their work on their DreamWorks debut CD.

'I got music videos of these boys when Jonathan was 6 and Jaime was 9,' McEuen said. 'They're lip-syncing Little River Band songs and stuff. They are sons of twin mothers. They sing like brothers but (have) none of the baggage.'

Another son, singer-songwriter Nathan McEuen, will perform at the Swallow Hill concert.

'He sings some of his songs and NGDB songs, plays great guitar and is a fun guy to perform with,' his father said. 'We have a great 'quality' time together.'

McEuen plans to share with the audience his long musical trip, offering a medley of music, studio anecdotes and tales from the road.

He was hesitant to share any stories before the concert.

'You know you don't like to give away the punch line,' he said. 'I mean, not many people will stand up publicly and say they wore June Carter's nightgown. I'll have to explain that when I get there, I guess.'

Closing yet another circle.

And Steve will be there for her

The Associated Press
January 20, 2004, Tuesday
4:20 AM Eastern Time
Comedy Arts Festival to honor Diane Keaton, August Wilson

ASPEN, Colo.:
Actress Diane Keaton will be given the AFI Star Award and playwright August Wilson will be given the Freedom of Speech Award at the 10th annual U.S. Comedy Arts Festival next month.

Keaton, winner of an Academy Award for Best Actress for "Annie Hall" in 1977, has been nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her latest film, "Something's Gotta Give."

Wilson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award, is the author of "Fences" and "The Piano Lesson," which documents the experience of black Americans.

Previous winners of the AFI Star Award include Steve Martin, Mike Myers, Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal. Past recipients of the Freedom of Speech Award include Michael Moore and the Smothers Brothers.

The 10th annual comedy festival runs March 3-7.
Saturday, January 17, 2004

A digression that involves Steve peripherally

Steve is dating a 30 year old. A bunch of other stars and hasbeens are dating, marrying, or having babies with very young women at very advanced ages. Along these lines, Billy Joel is marrying a woman who is variously reported to be 22 or 26... and celebrating with Steve. Which probably confirms to him that this is normal.

This is a blog, so I can editorialize. For what it's worth, I hold two contradictory opinions. (1) Steve do whatever makes you happy and good luck. (2) If you marry a much younger woman, you will lose my respect to an extent that I'll have only creepy feelings about you and your work.

Here are the two Billy Joel articles mentioning Steve:
New York Daily News
January 17, 2004
2-part harmony
Billy Joel, 54, to marry Katie Lee, 26
George Rush and Joanna Molloy

Billy Joel and Katie Lee are making it a duet. The Piano Man sprung the question on her - along with a 5-carat rock - on St. Bart's.

Billy Joel clearly thinks his girlfriend, Katie Lee, has got a way about her. He just asked her to marry him.

Joel's rep confirms to us that the 54-year-old Piano Man proposed to the 26-year-old beauty while on holiday in St. Bart's. We hear he clinched the deal with a 5-karat diamond sparkler.

"They haven't set a date yet," a friend tells us, " but they couldn't be happier."

The couple were seen toasting on the island at Maya, where they shared their good news with Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Patrick Demarchelier.
The couple started dating last spring. Lee, who grew up in North Carolina, has been studying culinary arts. She recently signed on to chef George Hirsch's PBS show "Living it Up!" as a restaurant correspondent.

Last summer, she learned about Long Island cuisine by slinging mackerel at a Bridgehampton fish shop and working as a hostess at Jeff and Eddie's restaurant in Sag Harbor. She recently moved into the "Moving Out" composer's mansion in Oyster Bay.

Asked if she was having any problems joining Joel in the spotlight, she told The New York Times, "No, not really. The National Enquirer said I wanted to get pregnant. It's not true! Once you [start having] kids, that's it. You are a mother for life."

Joel married his business manager, Elizabeth Weber, in 1973; they divorced in 1982. He married supermodel Christie Brinkley in 1985 and they have a daughter, Alexa, 17. They split in 1994.

Brinkley told us yesterday: "I wish Kate and Billy every happiness."


Entertainment - E! Online Gossip/Celeb
Billy Joel Engaged
Fri Jan 16, 2004 1:00 PM ET
By Josh Grossberg

It looks like Billy Joel has finally found a new Uptown Girl.

Ready to swap vows for a third time, the 54-year-old Piano Man popped the question recently to 22-year-old girlfriend Katie Lee (news) while vacationing on the Caribbean island of St. Bart's, Joel's rep confirms.

"So far a date has not been set," said publicist Claire Mercuri.

But it's obvious the West Virginia native had a way with Joel given that they didn't start the fire until last spring when he met her in New York City. The two have been inseparable ever since.

The impending nuptials came about after Joel sprang a 5-carat diamond rock on Lee. According to the New York Daily News, witnesses later spotted the happy twosome celebrating with pals Steve Martin, and Martin Short on the nearby island of Maya.
The couple then returned to Joel's posh digs in Oyster Bay, New York, where his fiance has since moved in.

Before hooking up with the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Lee studied the culinary arts and reportedly worked at two Long Island restaurants last summer: Jeff and Eddie's in Sag Harbor and at a Bridgehampton fish shop. She has since parlayed her newfound celebrity into a gig as a restaurant correspondent on George Hirsch's PBS show Living It Up!.

Until meeting Lee, marriage hadn't happened for the longest time for Joel.

In 1973, the Movin' Out composer married his business manager Elizabeth Weber before divorcing in 1982. Then, giving hope to average-looking Joes everywhere, Joel tied the knot with supermodel Christie Brinkley in 1985. After having one child together, now-18-year-old daughter Alexa Ray, the two separated in 1994.

Brinkley could not be reached for comment, but she gave her blessing to the union yesterday.

"I wish Kate and Billy every happiness," she told the Daily News.

News of the engagement marks a welcomed turnaround for Joel.

In recent years, the entertainer has been plagued by a substance abuse problem, which resulted in him voluntarily checking into a rehab clinic in Connecticut in 2002. And just a year ago, he was hospitalized briefly after banging himself up pretty good in a car accident.

A negative assessment of Steve as a sell-out

one of the interesting things about this article is the emphasis near the end on what Steve said in the Gopnik article (available on -- it's not a very different view of movie making than his view of collecting art from the perspective of the dealer and the market. Read some of what he said about art collecting. I'd never noticed the parallel before.
The Globe and Mail
POSTED AT 6:49 AM EST Friday, Jan. 2, 2004
Whatever happened to Steve Martin?
Globe and Mail Update

Money, that's what, the kind of bucks that come from making slight, formulaic box-office hits. A better question, RICK GROEN writes, is what didn't happen

If you need a quick fix on what ails American movies, look no further than Steve Martin. Look at him hard. Ponder the snowy patch atop his perpetually cherubic face, remember his lightning-quick wit and the extraordinary physical gifts once housed in that lithe body, and then ask yourself a pair of questions: What happened to the guy and why? Why, in the movies' long-running battle between the show and the business, has Martin come to pitch his allegiance so squarely and unequivocally on the side of the almighty dollar?
It wasn't always so. Not very long ago, the hired-hand who now coasts through Father of the Bride and Parenthood and Cheaper by the Dozen was the comic artist who shone in All of Me and Roxanne and L.A. Story. And I don't use the word lightly. Artist, that is. Comedy at its best is a seriously difficult art, and Martin at his best advanced it significantly on two fronts. Back in his "wild and crazy" days on the stand-up stage, his humour had a lightly absurdist quality that took peculiar aim at the social totems of the time. Peculiar, because the laughs generated (in bits like "Let's get small" and "King Tut") were a distinctive mix that blended the amiably satiric (he was never threatening) with a near-existential zaniness (he wasn't a philosophy major for nothing).

Although the blend proved hugely popular -- by the late seventies, Martin was King Tutting to sold-out sports arenas -- the real eureka moment, the aesthetic advance, didn't arrive until later.

That came only when he progressed into the movies, and began to solve a problem that had stumped many before him, and continues to vex many now. He broke through the haze of self-conscious irony that stifles our pop culture and found within a nugget of genuine sentiment, of real feeling, without stooping to artsy pretension at one extreme or mawkish sentimentality at the other.

Not even Woody Allen could manage that feat. For all their dexterity, Allen's great comedies, in the last act, invariably peter out on a moral note that seems almost syrupy in its banality. Compare that with Martin's punctuation to L.A. Story: "A kiss may not be the truth, but it is what we wish were true." The line is (or was) quintessential Martin -- funny but poignant, sweet yet not saccharine, smart but with the film of irony wiped clean.

His other advance doubled as a retreat: He reminded us that physical comedy can be dazzlingly and meaningfully visual, that movement on the screen can be used not just as shtick to adorn a character but as the very means of creating a character. Consequently, while his films from that era may not have been uniformly brilliant, they all had brilliant moments, and we savoured them -- those happy feet tap-dancing with surprising verve in Pennies from Heaven ('81), or tripping between his male and female selves in All of Me ('84) , or balanced precariously beneath his Cyrano-nose in Roxanne ('87), or roller-skating through the abstractions of modern art in L.A. Story ('91).

How good was Martin? No less an authority than Pauline Kael, during the Dark Ages when she could find zilch to like about American film, watched Roxanne and saw a beacon of hope -- a beacon bright enough that, without apology, she could include Martin's name in the same sentence with Buster Keaton, with W. C. Fields, with Fred Astaire.

Well, 16 short years later, all that promise has dwindled to the likes of Bringing Down the House, to Cheaper by the Dozen, to a parade of raucous noise that has Martin content to reprise the safe-as-taxes role of America's favourite Daddy -- clinging to his youth and his sanity as silliness swirls around him. These are all manufactured, mass-market, commercially successful comedies and, ever the pro, Martin does his job well. But they're also slight and formulaic and lacking any shred of artistic ambition. Nowadays, when it comes to Keaton comparisons, no one's mentioning Buster any more -- Michael or Diane, maybe. What happened?

Obviously, money happened. The formula pics earn a bundle, which means that Martin's "price" per movie can be counted in the double-digit millions. But if money talks, I don't think it should get the last word here. Instead, some will argue that the more pressing question with Martin is, "What didn't happen?" That is, he didn't direct.

Back when Kael anointed him, he occasionally wrote his own screenplays (as in Roxanne and L.A. Story), but refused to take up the director's reins. The final frame of L.A. Story actually made a cute joke of this refusal. But in his last attempt at anything resembling a creative movie, 1999's Bowfinger, the joke turned inward and a bit nasty. There, his character is a charlatan director obsessed with casting a bankable star played by Eddie Murphy -- not coincidentally, another comic who has sacrificed his enormous potential on the altar of noisy commerce.

Yet even this theory -- his lack of full creative control -- seems more a rationale than an explanation for Martin's decline and fall. Perhaps, the most candid answer came from the man himself. In a fascinating interview with The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik, published a decade ago at the turning-point in his career, Martin offered an assessment both astonishing in its frankness and sad in its implications. He said this: "The thing is, I'm not sure about movies right now. . . . I used to be convinced that a movie was either a commercial success or an artistic success. But it's really only about commercial success. I don't mean that cynically. . . . You can argue that perfect, honest, well-made comic entertainment is the best thing that movies can do, or ought to do. If you miss with something ambitious, you can miss so badly. And you can't be sure if it's ambitious or just pretentious. You know what I loved about Father of the Bride? No one stretched."

That rather deflating statement was delivered at the very moment when Martin had decided to deflect his own artistic ambitions away from film and into the more traditional arts -- to the stage, where he wrote Picasso at the Lapin Agile; and, later, to print, where he would pen several collections of short stories and two novellas, Shopgirl and The Pleasure of My Company. The charitable will salute him for doing what he so proudly didn't do in Father of the Bride -- for "stretching." But the fact is that his literary work, although clever and often amusing, ultimately suffers from exactly the same malaise as his recent movie work -- it's all pretty damn slight.

Sorry, but the worlds of theatre and literature would not be significantly poorer places if Martin hadn't written a word. By contrast, the world of film is much worse off because of his artistic departure. Whether he likes it or not, the screen is his rightful home -- that's where sound meets sight, where words combine with pictures, where what's coming out of his mouth is directly linked to, and immeasurably enhanced by, what's happening with his body.

So how did his opinion of that home grow so degraded and narrow ("It's really only about commercial success")? Could be it's just a self-fulfilling prophesy -- why concede that the bar could be set high when low is so much easier and more profitable and affords you both the time to write about a Picasso and the wealth to own one. But there's also a darker interpretation: A major talent abandoned the industry only after the industry abandoned him -- worse, it actively encouraged, and handsomely rewarded, the withering of his talent. Either way, the result makes Martin the perfect host for the annual Oscar fest -- the movie-man who could be better saluting a movie-business that should be better, each convinced that commercial entertainment is "honest" and anything more is a fool's game (even if the fools do win an occasional award).

Meanwhile, Martin is preparing for his next project, an adaptation of Shopgirl, which he wrote and will star in but again won't direct. Speaking of his novella, he recently remarked with a trademark arch of the eyebrow: "Several producers came to me and wanted to turn my book into a movie. And I said, 'If you think you're going to take this book and change it around, and Hollywoodize it and alter the ending . . . well, that's going to cost you.' "

Coming from today's Steve Martin in today's movie market, that's a funny joke. And it's not.
Sunday, January 11, 2004

A real(istic) date with Steve?

this same book in mentioned in the jan 2 blog. interesting.

'My sister's strength drove me on'
(Filed: 10/01/2004)

Former Hollywood film producer Elisabeth Robinson has written a novel based on her experiences in Hollywood, and on her sister's death. Now she finds she is the US publishing phenomenon of the year. James Fox meets her

When Elisabeth Robinson, a 43-year-old Hollywood producer disillusioned with her vocation, finished her first novel, The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters, she sent it to two top New York agents. No one else had read it. Both turned it down.

Elisabeth Robinson: 'how could I be so weak-willed about writing when I was so wilful about living?'

The book had broken a major rule - it is narrated through letters, all written by the protagonist, Olivia Hunt, an angry, sharp-eyed and failing Hollywood producer, chronicling a nightmare year in the late 1990s. One agent told her that epistolary books didn't sell and he never handled them; the other that it should be converted back from letters. The third, says Robinson, wept on the phone and offered to represent her.

The book achieves a fine balance between hilarious and biting satire on Hollywood and a heartbreaking account of a family presiding over the death of Olivia's younger sister from acute lymphocytic leukaemia - though even in this there are morbidly and vertiginously funny scenes.

Agent three did the right thing. The book, which is published simultaneously this week in London and New York, already looks to be the publishing phenomenon of 2004 in America. Robinson had saved enough money from her last producing project - Fred Schepisi's adaptation of Graham Swift's novel Last Orders, with Michael Caine - to write for one year only.

She was down to cutting out the luxury of household mineral water and was expecting, at most, a $40,000 advance. Within a week, the bidding had reached $425,000 and, with world rights, the figure is close to $1m. Little, Brown, the New York publishers, have a first print run of 125,000 copies - a record for them.

The book is caught in a mini tornado of pre-publicity and, crucially, excellent reviews, suggesting that the excitement may be justified. Time magazine tipped it as one of the two biggest-selling books of 2004. People magazine is running a profile - the first for an unknown author. Next week, Robinson appears on the Today show in America - the top publicity spot nationwide.

Robinson's insider knowledge of the movie business in which she worked for 10 years - she has credits on Braveheart and produced the Bill Murray comedy The Man Who Knew Too Little, among others - provides the comic anchor of the book. Olivia Hunt, her outrageous alter ego, is on her fourth suicide note when the action begins - she can't pitch it quite right and she wants to die a majestic death. "Ideally," she writes to her friend Tina, "this would be in the line of nonprofit duty in Africa or India, or after I pulled Steven Spielberg's drowning child or perhaps a chihuahua out of the flooded LA river."

Things have gone wrong. She has been fired from Universal by her loathsome boss, Josh Miller, to whom she will have to toady for months to come; she has been evicted from her apartment; her boyfriend, a painter living in New Mexico, has dumped her and her long-marinating film version of Don Quixote is back, yet again, "in development". Then she gets a call to tell her that her sister, Maddie, has leukaemia.

Olivia tries to hold all this chaos together, using what she knows - producer's techniques. Everything can be fixed, by applying pessimistic practicality. You can do a re-write. You just have to throw some Hollywood weight around, though it doesn't work with lost love or cancer and she's always in the face of that disillusionment.

The weak hypocrisy and savage venom flowing through her Hollywood correspondence gives Robinson a comic outlet for years of seemingly pent-up exasperation. Her film gets the green light when Olivia manages to secure John Cleese and Robin Williams - she gets a script to Williams by vaulting his wall: "If you're reading this, it means I haven't been arrested for trespassing on your, may I say, exquisite lawn."

The deal means making concessions. "I understand we change the title of the movie from Don Quixote to Sancho Panza," Olivia writes to the studio. "Well I thought about it. I thought about how the novel has been called Don Quixote for over 400 years, but it's hardly a bestseller any more, is it?" And the idea of updating the story, setting it in the American southwest, making Quixote and Sancho men in their early twenties riding Harleys to an Eminem concert that turns into a terrorist hostage situation, "is really hard to resist", she writes, though it would need a new script and cast.

There are descriptions of Hollywood interiors: that of Williams's house, as well as the bedroom of a comic actor who plays the banjo, called Steve - clearly Martin. And there is much authentic sounding viciousness from the alligator pool of tinsel town. To a woman executive who hasn't returned 14 telephone calls, she writes: "I guess you weren't in film school the day they taught that lesson about being nice to everyone just in case one day you fall from your totally undeserved place of power and need the plebs to help you out. You're such a spineless fraud you'll be out before the summer movies are." To the director Johnny Ray Dickerman, she writes: "I've asked you nicely about 200 times; please refrain from calling me `cutie-pie' or `c--- face' in meetings. Thanks."

The irresistible Olivia is constantly being pawed and jumped on by men in suits, one of whom, a possible backer, she tries to fob off by talking about the picture. "I'm trying to help you," she reports him saying, "and all you want to talk about is work, work, work. I'm trying to seduce you for chrissake!"

"I scrambled up the Hollywood ladder," Robinson tells me, laughing, "as quickly as I would later scramble down it." Slight, blonde, pretty, she doesn't look the image of the tough overseer that her production career required. There are, she says, a few autobiographical strands in her book - she did once work on a Quixote development with Cleese and Williams.

But the death of her younger sister from leukaemia in 1998 was the mainspring of her novel - she wanted to make sense of what had happened. This also explains how angrily unflinching she can be in her bedside descriptions.

Robinson comes from Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit. She left high school a year early to travel in Europe with money saved from working in a dance supply store for three years. When she tired of the ex-pat existence and returned to the United States, she got a job as a waitress at the New York restaurant Indochine, bursting with celebrities, writers and film makers. She made contacts and got a job as a secretary at United Artists in New York, "from someone I'd been serving spring rolls to for two years".

Promoted to book and script reading, she was offered a job as a studio executive at MGM in Los Angeles, then ran Alan Ladd Jnr's production company at Paramount, overseeing the acquisition and development of more than 30 pictures. Producing, she says, she found creatively unrewarding, even a "huge disillusionment", but it was film producing that gave her the confidence to write fiction - and enough money to write for a year. "If you can oversee a big movie - that gives you confidence." And if the book is readable, she says, it's because "in 10 years developing screenplays, you're constantly honing the script to basic dramatic principles. What is the conflict? Increase the obstacles. Increase the pace. What does the character need?"

When her sister was ill, she says, her defiance and optimism changed her life. "I'm a pessimistic and cynical person. She was given a dismal medical prognosis. And her response literally haunted me. I wanted to understand how you could love a world where such unfairness and terrible things happen.

"I was grieving and angry that my sister had displayed such courage and, in the end, it didn't matter. I had to get beyond that. I wanted to use the themes of Don Quixote. Is hope a delusion or a fuel? Was Don Quixote crazy or did he know windmills weren't giants and charged them for the sheer glorious hell of it? Did my sister know she didn't have a chance, or believe she would never die?

"My sister's faith challenged me. How could I be so weak-willed about writing when she was so wilful about living? I felt pathetic and puny. And she had risen to the occasion."

She is frequently asked questions such as: Did you go out with Steve Martin? or Did your father really punch out that medic in the hospital? "That really fascinates me," she says, "that everyone wants to know what's true. It's about the nature of authenticity. It's fiction. If you're moved, I've captured a truth."

As to her new overnight fame, she says: "I feel really excited about having enough money to write another book, because I loved writing this one and that was the greatest hope I had. The publicity makes me nervous. I would much rather have remained an anonymous person. I wanted to write it under a pseudonym, but my agent said that because publicity is so much a part of publishing, it wouldn't be possible for a first novel. There'll be two months of hysteria and then I'll be forgotten. I rather look forward to March."
Saturday, January 10, 2004

Steve talks some more and says similar but different things

The Halifax Daily News (Nova Scotia)
January 8, 2004 Thursday
HFX Movies; Pg. 15
Martin lends Midas touch to Cheaper by the Dozen
Davis, Ivor

Multi-talented Steve Martin seems to turn to gold everything he touches. Oscar host, funnyman, author, playwright and movie star, Martin has many versatile arrows to his entertainment bow.

In the remake of the 1950 comedy Cheaper by the Dozen, starring Clifton Webb, Martin plays football coach Tom Baker, who has to juggle responsibilities for his rambunctious, oversized family and his new college football team while his wife (played by Bonnie Hunt) is away on a book tour.

Martin brings his own special zany touch to the comic role in this family movie, but he faces a much bigger challenge next year when he tackles the bumbling Inspector Clouseau in a prequel to the old Pink Panther series.

While few moviegoers can compare Martin with Clifton Webb, the same cannot be said for Clouseau, who was immortalized by the late great British actor Peter Sellers in five films.

Martin, who may also do a Bringing Down the House sequel, is filming opposite Claire Danes in Shopgirl, based on his own best-selling novel.

Not surprisingly, the Santa Barbara-based, one-time Saturday Night Live host who has made his mark as one of the most brilliant comedic talents in the world, does not offer the usual movie-star patter when it comes to interviews to sell his movies.

Question: How was it working with Bonnie Hunt?

Answer: Delicious. She's very funny with a sharp sense of humour, sharp like cheddar cheese. Is cheddar cheese sharp? Anyway, that's a bad metaphor. So we talked and had time together, and had dinners with Tom Welling (who plays his son), who's a very sweet talented guy.

Q: How about all those kids under your feet?

A: They're fun. You get the best of them, too, because you're not dealing with their downtime as parents have to do, when they're grumpy or upset. I mean, what can be cuter than an eight-year-old or a nine-year-old, if they're cute.

Q: What was the appeal of this role?

A: I found the script so moving at the end that no matter what had gone on before - and the script was rewritten after I signed on - but the end always got me. It always made me kind of teary. Then, you meet the director, and you realize, OK, I like this guy.

Q: What's this movie about?

A: It's a booster for people who are in families, because no matter what the joy is, it's also a lot of work. You can be overcome with work and then, maybe, also for the child, too, you're frustrated in your family and then, you see a movie like this and it gives you that little boost of love or confidence or morality.

Q: Did you see the old version of Cheaper?

A: I saw it as a kid, and the ending is different. The father dies. I don't want that.

Q: What persuaded you to do it?

A: I thought about it for two months, and turned it down twice. What changed my mind was that Shawn Levy, the director, talked to me about it and I said, Well, I did have this one idea. Shawn said, Well, that sounds kind of funny, and then, I said, Let me play with the script a little bit. I went home and started writing the script without anyone knowing it. I liked what I came up with and so, here I am promoting Cheaper by the Dozen.

Q: Are you going to write the Clouseau film as well?

A: I'm going to at least co-write it. They have a script, and I've been working on that, and I don't know how that works. I don't know whose name will be on it, but I'm working very hard on it.

Q: Did you know Bringing Down the House was going to be a big hit?

A: We knew that it was, what they call, scoring well, but you never know about things.

Q: Was it your biggest hit since Parenthood?

A: Yes, my biggest hit ever.
Wednesday, January 07, 2004

For whoever wanted recently to know what kind of car he drives ...
E! online
Ted Casablanca's The Awful Truth
December 11, 2003
Not leaving them laughing, at least this time, was...

Steve Martin, dining alone on the back patio of the Newsroom Café. Robertson Boulevard, City of the Fallen Oscar Hosts. Enjoying a mellow Sunday afternoon, the former wild 'n' crazy guy was scarfing down banana pancakes while doing the New York Times crossword puzzle. Go, Steve! Noticeably clad in a rainbow-striped sweater, glasses and baseball cap, Mr. M. kept his head down and ignored the staring eyes. Post-meal, Stevie-hon jumped into his silver Lexus--bike on the back--and roared on his way.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Bits and pieces more than in other posted stories so far

The Halifax Daily News (Nova Scotia)
January 5, 2004 Monday
Arts & Entertainment; Pg. 14
More than wild and crazy
Lee, Luaine

In the movies comic Steve Martin is always playing fathers. He was, of course, the reluctant Father of the Bride (twice), he was a put-upon dad in Parenthood, the uninformed father in A Simple Twist of Fate. Now he's the uber-father in Cheaper by the Dozen, in which he and wife Bonnie Hunt, cope with their prodigious fecundity, which has produced an even dozen.

But Martin has never been a father himself. He has nieces and nephews and grand-nieces and -nephews and actually enjoys working with kids, he says.

I played fathers so many times, it's like being one, he says. I've had children of every age. And, like I say, I do everything but the dirty work. Their parents have to take them home and deal with all that.

Martin himself grew up in the '50s. A perfect kind of '50s family, he says. (It was) a housewife, father working, school. I grew up in Orange County, Calif., which was very new and fresh and crimeless. Disneyland had just opened and everything was sunny and bright.

Given that background, it's a bit surprising that Martin would develop a hankering for the unyielding mistress of show business. He didn't really have a choice, he says.

It happens. You go to audition at a nightclub and you either get it or you don't, he says. It's such a slow, slow process. You don't say, 'I'm going to be an actor.' I never said that. I was interested in comedy. Had I chosen to be an actor, I'd still be at the audition line, I'm sure.

Still, Martin's hilarious turns in films such as L.A. Story, All of Me and House Sitter have branded him as a comic innovator.

Sometimes I'm called a groundbreaker, but really I think what I did was go back, he says.

In the '70s, when I started, comedy was very jokey, very Vegas, sequential, and I felt like it was very political and very unfunny with the exception of George Carlin and Richard Pryor.

I just thought there's another kind of comedy out there, I know there is. And it really comes out of vaudeville, which I think is what I did. Also I put a spin on it.

Even when he pierced an arrow through his head as the Wild and Crazy Guy, he says he didn't know he was funny. I never realized I was funny, he says.

It was always something I was trying to do to create - you just start doing it ... You're always funny according to how funny you were just a minute ago. It's always a challenge, every time. And you're always wondering if you're gonna fail. I still worry all the time.

A novelist, an art aficionado, a playwright, Martin, 58, says his interests really revolve around his private life.

And work is a big part of my private life, but being a writer, it's solitary and it's something I can do at home.

And I like being at home. So there's no No. 1 (interest). It's all a hodgepodge.

Still number 2 but very good numbers
Mon, Jan 05, 2004
Entertainment - Reuters
'Rings' Leads Box Office for Third Weekend
Sun Jan 4, 2:10 PM ET
By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In a relatively quiet weekend at the North American box office with no new wide releases, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" held the No. 1 slot for a third round with ticket sales of $30.8 million, according to studio estimates issued on Sunday.


The family comedy "Cheaper by the Dozen," starring Steve Martin (news) and Bonnie Hunt (news), remained at No. 2 with $21.9 million, propelling its North American total to $86 million after just two weekends.

The $40 million film, a remake of a 1950 vehicle for Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy (news), should end up near $125 million, said Bruce Snyder, president of domestic theatrical distribution at 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp.'s Fox Entertainment Group Inc .

Friday, January 02, 2004

Steve on a fictional date. Hmmmm.

The New York Times
December 28, 2003, Sunday, Late Edition - Final
Section 7; Page 9; Column 2; Book Review Desk
To Do: Kill Self
By Emily Nussbaum

By Elisabeth Robinson.
327 pp. Boston:
Little, Brown & Company. $23.95.

Olivia Hunt has been working on her suicide note -- her fourth attempt, since she's having trouble getting the tone right. But in truth, Olivia's whole life feels like a rough draft. At 33, she's a Hollywood discard: unemployed, homeless (in a stylish, house-sitting sense), recently dumped and stalled on her pet project, producing a film version of "Don Quixote."

Then her younger sister, Maddie, gets leukemia, and Olivia's life lurches forward. Panicked by the bad news, Olivia struggles to fix everything at once: her family, her love life, her movie. By turns pleading, bitter, resigned, romantic and businesslike, she shoots off a series of letters from the road, willing her world into order. It's a hopeless project, and an admirable one. Even in grief, Olivia's got a producer's instinct: the desire to micromanage the universe, to force something great out of the chaos.

A novel about Hollywood and cancer seems doomed to bathos, especially given that this epistolary narrative springs from the author's own life. (Elisabeth Robinson helped produce "Braveheart," and she nursed her own sick sister. What's more, like Olivia, she once worked on an adaptation of "Don Quixote" that she hoped would star John Cleese and Robin Williams.) And there are moments when "The Hunt Sisters" can feel uncomfortably like a big-screen tear-jerker, alternating streaks of sap and cynicism. But like the breakout sentimental best seller "The Lovely Bones," "The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters" is finally wryly effective, capturing the momentum of family sorrow, the ways in which people can care for each other without ever quite coming to terms.

Part of this is due to Olivia herself, who makes an appealingly flawed protagonist: she is sharply compassionate but also self-pitying and impatient, the sister everyone resents for having "gone Hollywood." She's critical of Los Angeles yet full of its values, using industry connections to get her sister a call from Bruce Springsteen. Olivia's worst critics each have a point: her married friend Tina, who wearies of Olivia's relationship melodrama; her corporate nemesis Josh, who accuses her of having "a superiority and an inferiority complex." But like Carrie Bradshaw in "Sex and the City," Olivia is lovable for her contradictions -- her generosity tinged by guilt, her intimacy-impaired romanticism and her peculiar amalgam of artistic dreaminess and pointy-elbowed careerism.

For anyone curious about Hollywood machinations, Robinson provides plenty of dish: there are weasel producers, macho screenwriters, dates with a thinly (which is to say not at all) disguised Steve Martin. On the set of "Don Quixote," Olivia fends off studio demands for a happy ending and a closing song by J.Lo. But unlike her hero, she's no raw idealist. Wooing Robin Williams ("a beaver in a sweatshirt and jeans") for the role of Sancho Panza, Olivia finagles with the best of them: "Robin can think it's about Rice Krispies," she reasons, "as long as he makes the movie."

But if these Hollywood outtakes are often scathingly funny, it's Maddie's medical struggle that dominates the story. Olivia flies back and forth endlessly, berating doctors and cajoling them, trying to be the good, responsible, affectionate sister she sometimes fears she has forgotten how to be. Such scenes of family desperation can feel at once wrenching and manipulative; perhaps there's no way to write about a serious illness without moments of "E.R."-style melodrama, and, however heartfelt, Olivia's musings on the meaning of life can feel familiar. But Robinson overcomes these obstacles with her gift for the small details: the "blue freckles" of injection bruises, the horror of watching one's sister become "a wild, frightened, hairless cat."

And Maddie herself is no plaster saint. In her letters, Olivia struggles to capture her sister's persnickety individuality, her peculiar mix of party girl, Midwestern homemaker and critical idealist. Even in illness, Maddie urges Olivia on and needles her all at once, providing a cranky counterpoint to her sister's tendency to stew. "Just don't be gloomy or snotty," she warns Olivia. "Nobody likes that." In both her movie and her life, Olivia struggles to provide her sister and herself with an ideal ending -- a perfect moment that will satisfy everyone. But, finally, this book is a paean to the compromises made out of love: Olivia may be an unreliable narrator, but as a storyteller she comes through in the clutch.

It ain't easy being green

The San Diego Union-Tribune
December 26, 2003, Friday

Ravings, rants, quirks and quibbles from a movies maniac.


Even Steve Martin, the father in two "Father of the Bride" movies, is touching in one of his sweetest roles as dad to 12 in "Cheaper by the Dozen." The movie's a stretch, chaotic and unfocused, but Martin gives it some semblance of order as a college football coach pulled between family and job.

Better here than his over-the-top turn in the dismal "Looney Tunes: Back in Action," Martin taps his warmth and humor. There's this moment delivering a backyard eulogy for one of his kids' pet frog: "Beans was a good frog ... he was almost like one of the family except he was green and he ate flies."

Steve and the whole bunch talk... that's what junkets are for

The Daily News of Los Angeles
December 26, 2003 Friday, Valley Edition
Pg. U8
Evan Henerson, Staff Writer

"Cheaper by the Dozen." Catchy title, no? Maybe you read the book as a child, the true-life story of Ernestine Gilbreth Carey's family of 14: efficiency expert dad, mom and brood of 12. Or perhaps there's a sentimental fondness for the 1950 movie of the same title with Clifton Webb, Myrna Loy and clan.

Now there's a new movie that has zilch to do with Carey's book other than its celebration of all things big and familial. Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt star as ambitious football coach Tom Baker and his author wife, Kate. Tom Welling ("Smallville") Piper Perabo ("Coyote Ugly") and Hilary Duff ("The Lizzie McGuire Movie") are among the Bakers' dozen.

Today being the day after Christmas and the subject being Mom, Pop and an egg carton full of offspring, we offer you our rendition of "The Press Day of 'Cheaper.' " If you know the tune, feel free to sing along. (We got Martin, Hunt, Welling and Perabo to chime in).

On the Press Day of "Cheaper," the studio gave to me ...

12 happy actors ...

HUNT: "They say don't work with kids or animals, but let's leave Steve and the director out of this. I love working with the kids because on a daily basis you're reminded of the joy of doing what we do for a living. Through their eyes, life is such an adventure and they're pretending.

PERABO: "When we would be out by the trailer at lunch, it would be like a playground. There was one trailer just with toys for the kids to have things to do when they weren't shooting: hula hoops, remote control cars, kites. Lot of us would be out there hanging out."

Mass fear of Punk-ing ...

HUNT: "I have to admit when ('Punk'd' host) Ashton (Kutcher) was on the movie, I'd walk into my trailer and go 'Aha!' waiting for something to happen."

PERABO: "By the time we got to the house, the kids were very excited and hoping to get punk'd. So they were on the lookout if anything seemed strange, any passing car."

WELLING: "Who wants to get punk'd? I could be getting punk'd right now."

19 years between 'em ...

MARTIN: (age 58) "I'm surprised I'm still able to play a father. I'm a little older than an actual father would be. So I'm happy I can still play it."

HUNT: (age 39) "(The older male/younger female couple) is the way it is out here, and it's bizarre. We're surrounded by it in Hollywood. You go to a restaurant and I always think it's Bring Your Daughter to Work Day."

9 tykes a-playing ...

MARTIN: "Delicious. (The kids are) fun and you get the best of them, too. You're not dealing with their down time as parents have to when they're grumpy or upset. And what can be cuter than an 8- or 9-year-old? If they are cute."

PERABO: "They're always hungry. On the set of the house, there are a lot of false doors and back staircases for the lighting guys. Often you're opening a door and you find two little kids eating peanut butter and jelly, which they're not supposed to do because they're in wardrobe and it's already over half their clothes."

HUNT: "Steve did kick the kids ... but not very hard."

Assorted tabloid rumors ...

HUNT: "The young guy who played Mark (Forrest Landis), the one with the frog. He and I are dating now, just based on the example of Demi (Moore) and Ashton on the set. It's very sweet. I'll never forget the day Ashton had a lemonade stand. I've never seen Demi so proud. He set it up on the studio lot just for a little extra cash."

1 Piper piping ...

PERABO: "I keep saying, 'Pair a bow,' like if you look at your shoes or your sneakers, you see a pair of bows. Even my dad said to me when I first got representation, 'You know I understand if you're going to have to change your name.' He was a poetry professor so he was very attached to words and he said, 'I understand if you have to change it and I really want you to succeed and do what you have to do.' So I went to my manager and said, 'If I have to change my name, that's OK, I understand because it's a little strange.' And she was like, 'Your name is one of the biggest things you have going for you. You don't have a job. Your hair looks like crap, you're keeping the name.' "

6 raucous siblings ...

HUNT: "This is nothing compared to the chaos that happens in a real big family. I'm one of seven children, and in our house, we cleaned up the house every time the doorbell rang. Everything went into the closet. My father walked in the room, we were well-behaved. When my mother was away, that's when we really had to behave. My family was different in that sense. If we were left alone with my father for a week, it was like boot camp. I was No. 6, which was my name for the first few years."

65 lden Globes ...

OK, make that zero, but it fits the song.

1 blond teen franchise ...

HUNT: I can't imagine having the poise that (Hilary Duff) has with everything she's doing. I look at this young girl with everything she's done and she is a fine young lady and I think her parents have a lot to do with that. She took the time to speak to every child that came out into the neighborhood that just wanted to meet Lizzie McGuire. She would kneel down and speak to them, and I told her how important it was for the child's experience that she would show that kindness. She just did it naturally. That's who she is.

WELLING: The other kids probably knew things about Hilary that she didn't know about herself, and they would kid her, give her a hard time. 'C'mon Hilary, sing! Dance for us! Were you really in that country when you shot that movie or did you do that on a sound stage?' Only kids in the business would know to ask those questions."

3 'Smallville' seasons ...

WELLING: I've got super hearing, that's a new one this year. But I don't get to fly. Why not? This is the thing: 'Smallville' is about Clark Kent trying to be a normal kid. He's got all these abilities he doesn't know what to do with. I think that once Clark Kent puts on a suit and starts flying around, it's not what we're doing anymore. I think it changes direction of a show. I think by putting on the suit, he's accepting the identity and going out into the world.

2 cutesy twins ...

PERABO: "The twin 5-year-old boys (Brent and Shane Kinsman) didn't want to listen. Ever. But if Tom (Welling) was doing something, they really wanted to do it. If Tom was sitting down eating a sandwich, they wanted to sit on Tom, hang on Tom. If someone had to hold them, it could only be Tom."

HUNT: "Those two boys would do one take and of course they didn't know what a take was. They were there mimicking what they were told to do. They would do one take and they would be, 'That's it. We have to go now. We want to go play. We want to go play right now. Right now! Got to play now!' "

And a wild and crazy guy!

!sub2!!folo!MARTIN: "My acting doesn't stray too far - except in 'Looney Tunes' - from my personality."

HUNT: "What's unique about Steve? Absolutely nothing. He's pretty average, actually."

PERABO: "I was sort of expecting that wokka wokka wokka, arrow through the head guy to come walking in. God, (Martin) was just so ... he's just so calm, so comfortable with himself and so smart."

WELLING: "Why did I do this movie? The anecdote that I've been saying is 'Steve Martin, Steve Martin, Steve Martin.' In the package of scripts I got, when they said Steve Martin was in it, that was the one I read first out of that group."

Evan Henerson, (818) 713-3651

Martin takes on Clouseau

Talk about some awfully formidable bumbling shoes to fill.
"I understand they're firing Peter Sellers," says Steve Martin, his wit as dry as bleached sandpaper. "He wasn't doing the publicity."

Martin claims he turned down the role of "Pink Panther" Inspector Jacques Clouseau twice before "Cheaper by the Dozen" director Shawn Levy came to him to spitball a few ideas.
"He was interested in directing it," says Martin, who enjoyed his work with Levy on "Cheaper." "I said, 'Well, I do have this one idea,' and we passed it around and he said, 'That sounds sort of funny.' So I said, 'Let me play around with the script a little bit.' And I went home and started writing the script without anybody really knowing it. I liked what I came up with, and so here I am."
Currently titled "The Birth of the Pink Panther," the film - due out in 2005 - is Martin's next project after the film adaptation of his novel "Shopgirl."

Many of his ideas for Clouseau remain "unformed" says Martin, who was reluctant to give away too many details about the story on which he could get a screenwriting credit. The Internet Movie Database describes "Birth" as a "prequel" that finds Clouseau trying to solve the murder of a famed soccer coach and determine - what else? - the whereabouts of the missing Pink Panther diamond.

"The question was whether this could be sort of revitalized and updated with another actor," says Martin. "The thing about Peter Sellers is that he was the absolute perfect person for that character he created. So my task is to, within the context of the 'Pink Panther,' create a character that I feel that comfortable in."

- E.H.

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