Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Saturday, November 27, 2004

Who knows where or when....
Ted Casablanca's The Awful Truth
Nov. 4, 2004

On a separate froufrou occasion [in New York] was...

Steve Martin, popping by the place with the usual young, bookish gal he often brings in fer a scrumptious salad. Playing the handsome part, S.M. flaunted an expensive suit, while his girly flavor simply posed pretty.
Thursday, November 25, 2004

Better late than never

New York Times
June 9, 2004
Late Edition - Final
Metropolitan Desk
Page 2

Joyce Wadler With Melena Z. Ryzik and Alexis Rehrmann


And the Couch Is Covered With Cat Hair

The Museum of Modern Art, which is closed for renovation, held its annual Party in the Garden at the Roseland Ballroom on Monday night. This is like crashing on the couch of your artist friend in Washington Heights while the work is being done on your West Village duplex. The special events crew had made an effort, with red tablecloths and red bamboo chairs; flower projections kept the lonely dance floor lukewarm. But their efforts were defeated by the sheer vast blackness of the space. The sounds of chirping birds played under bouncy jazz could not eradicate the ghosts of taxi dancers.

"I was just thinking of 'They Shoot Horses, Don't They?'" JOHN WATERS said, in a filmic allusion you Columbia J. School Young'Uns probably do not get.

And STEVE MARTIN, the evening's honoree, jokingly thanked the Modern's architect, YOSHIO TANIGUCHI, for the space. We fear we may not have caught all the nuance of Mr. Martin's speech -- we were seated behind a sheer curtain that separated us from the diners and the entertainment -- so we had to rely on large arm gestures, rather than facial expressions, for our visual input.

"I love the new building," Mr. Martin said in his speech. (Wide arm gesture, which took in the shadow of the empty balcony -- of course, from our vantage point, it was all shadow.) "I never dreamed it could possibly be like this."


Now we know why Steve liked making the Pink Panther

The Express
November 24, 2004
U.K. 1st Edition; COLUMNS; Pg. 40

AS A DARLING of the low budget arty film world, Emily Mortimer has had to disrobe on more than one occasion. But when the porcelainskinned daughter of Sir John Mortimer landed a role in the remake of The Pink Panther, with Steve Martin and Kevin Kline, she presumed her celluloid nudity was behind her.

"I've done a string of independent films in which I kept ending up naked but I really thought I'd progressed from that when I went to Hollywood to do the Pink Panther film, " she says.

The producers had other ideas, though.

"They soon explained to me that I'm playing Steve's 'perky' assistant, " laughs 32year-old Mortimer, who has a one-year-old son Sam with her actor husband Alessandro Nivola.

"I seem to spend most of the film falling over and then ending up with my legs wrapped around his face."

Billy Connolly starts a rumor

Scottish Daily Record
November 25, 2004, Thursday
With Beverley Lyons And Cath Bennett

COMEDIAN Billy Connolly has revealed he could be on the verge of a new career - as the lead singer of a celebrity band.

Connolly, who was criticised after allegedly making a sick joke about murdered Iraqi hostage Ken Bigley, said he spends much of his spare time 'making music' with his celebrity pals. And he boasts that with Steve Martin, Eric Idle and Robin Williams in his group, they certainly take the title of the funniest music act.

Connolly, who struggled to make a living as a banjo player in the Sixties, said: 'I don't write songs anymore, but I sing and play every day. 'Steve plays the banjo and Eric plays the guitar. We get together as often as we can and jam a little. We bought Robin in to play the ukulele, but he hasn't studied much. 'He just sits and does animal noises and makes up verses. It's great.'

In October, Connolly had been performing in London when his routine touched on the Iraqi hostage crisis.

It was reported that he told the audience: 'Perhaps I shouldn't be saying this, but don't you wish they would just get on with it?'

Connolly later said the gag was taken out of context, and the Bigley family would not have been offended if they had been in his audience. He said: 'I didn't say the remark and I didn't wish the man any harm at all. I don't do that. Why would I?'

Bigley was executed days later.
Monday, November 22, 2004

Steve in the Village

The San Francisco Chronicle
Sometimes happiness is easier to find than hipness
Carolyne Zinko

It's one of the unwritten rules of traveling: The harder you try, the less you find.

On a summer trip to New York, I was on a tight schedule, trying to find the maximum number of hip hangouts in the minimum time for a story assignment. But the places I'd been told that "everyone" was trying to get into suddenly seemed to have nobody in them. Where there were a few bodies, they weren't the celebrity somebodies I wanted to find.

Chasing celebrities like Misha might have been futile, but focusing on good food -- and our own desires -- had unexpected rewards. A friend had made a reservation for us at Il Cantinori in Greenwich Village, said to be one of the first restaurants to bring Tuscan cuisine to the United States. Given a choice of where to sit when we arrived, we decided to hide in the back, where it was quiet.

Halfway through our linguini with clams, Steve Martin and three other people were seated just behind us. I couldn't see who the other man was, but when his female companion dropped her lipstick and it rolled under our table, I was able to sneak a look. It was actor Jean Reno, Robert DeNiro's co-star in one of my favorite movies, "Ronin." (It has a lot of futile chases, too.)


So ya wanna be Steve's neighbor

The New York Times
November 21, 2004 Sunday
Late Edition - Final
Section 11; Column 4; Real Estate Desk; BIG DEAL; Pg. 2
Park Views and a Fancy Shower Available at the San Remo

LIKE a leaf pressed between the pages of a book and come upon again years later, a 4,000-square-foot apartment that recently went on sale at the San Remo on Central Park West has been preserved with few changes since the majestic apartment building, designed by Emery Roth, went up in 1930. The apartment is being sold by the family of Nadia Jaglom, who lived there since about 1940 and died recently, shortly before her 105th birthday, according to Kirk Henckels, the director of Stribling Private Brokerage.

"Everybody comments on what good condition it's in," Mr. Henckels said. "It has all the beautiful hardware and bullet hinges. Emory Roth was famous for his metal kitchen cabinets. It has all that and Emery Roth's famous tile bathrooms, which are really in pristine condition. He would do each bathroom in a different color tile." In this case, Mr. Henckels said, the architect chose beige, green and brown.

Paul Wachter, Mrs. Jaglom's grandson, has fond memories of playing in the apartment as a child. He particularly remembers the shower, also designed by Mr. Roth. "It was a stall shower with multiple shower heads, like six or eight," said Mr. Wachter, who now lives in California. "There's three on each side, one up above and one at the bottom. I used to love going in there as a kid. You can imagine when that was built everyone probably thought that was the coolest thing anyone had ever seen."

The apartment, which is on the 10th floor, has 10 windows facing Central Park. There are also seven windows overlooking West 75th Street. Shortly after the apartment went on the market, at an asking price of $11.9 million, the owners of the two apartments on either side contacted Mr. Henckels and said they might also be willing to sell.

The result, Mr. Henckels said, could be a sprawling 8,000-square-foot apartment with 22 rooms, including seven bedrooms. The price for all three in combination has been set at $23.5 million.

"This is kind of an unusual opportunity," Mr. Henckels said.

Mr. Wachter said his grandparents moved into the San Remo sometime after they arrived in this country from Europe in the late 1930's. At the San Remo, they raised a family and compiled an art collection, including works by Renoir, Degas and Bonnard. His grandfather, Abraham Jaglom, died in 1975, but his grandmother remained in the apartment for three more decades.

The San Remo is visible from a distance because of the two pointed towers that rise up to a height of 27 stories. It has had its share of celebrity occupants, including Steve Martin and Steven Spielberg.
Saturday, November 20, 2004

Steve and Anne go to the museum

thanks to KMT who finds the most interesting things,0,1447789.column?coll=stam-features-utility
The Advocate (Stamford, Connecticut)
Susie Costaregni
The Dish
November 6, 2004
N.Y. antiques store draws large lot of celebrities


Out there ... The Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College, State University of New York hosted a star-studded evening at its recent Members opening reception for "April Gornik: Paintings and Drawings." Gornik, known for her beautiful, contemporary landscapes, was there with her husband and renowned artist/sculptor Eric Fischl. Also in the crowd was actor and contemporary art collector Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield, novelist Kurt Vonnegut and his wife, photographer Jill Krementz, noted fashion photographer Ralph Gibson, artist David Salle and fashion designer Mary Jane Marcasiano. The exhibition is on view at the Neuberger Museum until Feb. 13th.
Monday, November 15, 2004

More Cinematheque

Los Angeles Times
November 15, 2004 Monday
Home Edition
CALENDAR; Calendar Desk; Part E; Pg. 2
They're wild for this crazy guy;
Audience and celebrity roasters give it up for Steve Martin as he's handed the American Cinematheque Award.
Susan King, Times Staff Writer

Steve Martin has come a long way from his days working in the Magic Shop on Main Street, USA at Disneyland or performing as a comedian in the Birdcage Theater at Knott's Berry Farm. Today, he's considered by many to be a comedic renaissance man.

A popular film star for a quarter of a century, the 59-year-old Martin is also an acclaimed playwright, novelist and musician. And the wild-and-crazy guy who came to fame as a stand-up comic wearing an arrow through his head has won an Emmy, critics awards for his performances in "Roxanne" and "All of Me" and the Writers Guild Award for "Roxanne."

On Friday evening, Martin became the 19th recipient of the American Cinematheque Award at a raucous gala dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Previous recipients include Robin Williams, Denzel Washington and Nicole Kidman. The evening is also a benefit for the Cinematheque's operating costs for its year-round public film and video programs.

Event co-chair Rick Nicita told the crowd that the evening would not only be a tribute but a "retrospective and a roast." The emphasis was decidedly more roast than retrospective, with the crowd -- as well as Martin -- continually laughing during the two-hour event.

Whereas these tribute evenings can bog down with lengthy clips from the honoree's films, sequences from Martin's movies were edited together for brevity and optimum humor.

Besides showing classic moments from his hits "The Jerk," "All of Me," "Roxanne," "Cheaper by the Dozen," "Parenthood," "Bringing Down the House" and "The Spanish Prisoner," the audience got a preview of his films "Shopgirl," which he adapted from his novella, and the new version of "The Pink Panther," in which Martin takes on the role made famous by Peter Sellers.

Those in attendance included some of Martin's costars over the years -- Claire Danes, Dana Delany, Bonnie Hunt, Eugene Levy, Rita Wilson, Martin Short, Robin Williams -- as well as director Carl Reiner. Several took the opportunity to turn the spotlight on Martin.

Williams called Martin the first "rock star comedian" and told one of Martin's more offbeat jokes: "How many surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb?" The answer: "A fish."

Short, who appeared with Martin in "Three Amigos!," told Martin: "You're more than a friend, you're a business associate."

Kevin Nealon, who made his film debut as drunk No. 2 in "Roxanne," asked the audience: "Why do so many people love to hate Steve Martin?.... For me, it's sexual tension."

In a taped message, his "Little Shop of Horrors" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" director Frank Oz told Martin that receiving the award is a good thing for him "because you really don't know how good you are."

Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, the director and producer of the Martin blockbuster "Parenthood," presented the award to Martin, who received a thunderous standing ovation from the appreciative crowd. Martin accepted the award with tongue firmly in cheek, telling the audience that he initially debated the honor, then decided it was better to "accept the award than buy a table.... I accept this on behalf of all the millionaire comedians."

An hourlong version of the evening will be telecast Jan. 23 on cable's AMC.

Cinematheque roast

thanks to KMT
Steve Martin Roasted at Beverly Hills Bash
Mon Nov 15, 2004 03:07 AM ET
By Borys Kit

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In a freewheeling ceremony with a high laugh quotient, Steve Martin was honored during film promotion group American Cinematheque's 19th annual fundraiser Friday at the Beverly Hilton .

Martin was lauded and roasted by a lineup of his fellow comedians, who filled the ballroom with zingers and one-liners, all while paying tribute to Martin's skills as an actor, screenwriter, novelist, essayist, philosopher and, in one of the night's running gags, banjo player.

"Steve was that little boy in 'Deliverance' who played the banjo," Robin Williams said. A friend of Martin's since their days in stand-up comedy in the 1970s and his co-star in a Lincoln Center production of "Waiting for Godot," Williams reminded the crowd that in his early stand-up days, Martin frequently performed with a banjo.

Martin Short, who worked with Martin on "Saturday Night Live" and on such films as "Three Amigos" and the two "Father of the Bride" movies, testified, "Steve's body of work is remarkable. I know that because earlier this evening, Steve turned to me and said, 'Isn't my body of work remarkable?' "

Joked Jon Lovitz, "I first worked with Steve Martin on 'The Three Amigos,' also starring Chevy Chase, and the very gay Martin Short. I was surrounded by all these legends of comedy, and I felt guilty having a favorite, because you were all so funny. But hey, it was Chevy."

The night was filled with clips of Martin's movies, divided into such themes as physical comedy, dancing, writing, sex and romance and drama.

Actress Rita Wilson introduced the "family guy" clips, remarking, "It's surprising that Steve, who has no children, has become one of the big screen fathers of all time."

Eugene Levy, Dana Delaney, Kevin Nealon, Carl Reiner, Bonnie Hunt and Claire Danes took to the stage to lovingly poke fun at Martin.

Finally, Martin's turn on stage came, as he accepted the award from his "Parenthood" director Ron Howard and frequent producer Brian Grazer.

"There are so many familiar faces in the audience, people I've worked with, people I haven't seen in years, and I just thought ... why can't we wear name tags?" Martin joked.

The tribute will air Jan. 23 on AMC.
Sunday, November 14, 2004

Heads up -- unless you're a turkey, then it's heads down!

Thanksgiving animation redux
Saturday, November 13, 2004

Steve speaks
New York Post Online
Nov 13, 6:31 PM EST
Steve Martin Gets Career Achievement Honor
AP Entertainment Writer

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- Too much praise can turn Steve Martin into a wild and insincere guy. The star of "The Jerk" and "Bringing Down the House" accepted the American Cinematheque career achievement honor with mock cynicism.

The former "Saturday Night Live" star played aloof during the Friday ceremony, with friends in the audience that included Robin Williams, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, Martin Short, Dana Delany, Eugene Levy, "Dead Men Don't Where Plaid" filmmaker Carl Reiner and "Parenthood" director Ron Howard.

"There are so many familiar faces tonight, people I've worked with, people I haven't seen in years and I just thought, 'Why can't we wear name tags? What would be so wrong?'" Martin joked.

"But this evening is especially meaningful to me," Martin added, "because when I was a kid my friends and I used to meet after school and get all dressed up and play 'American Cinematheque awards show.'"

Friends cheered him and movie clips showcased his joking, dancing, dramatic acting and singing.

Rick Nicita, chairman of the organization's board, said they chose to honor Martin because he is a "Renaissance man" who has excelled not only as an actor and comedian but as a playwright, novelist, art collector - even banjo player.

A telecast of the evening was set for broadcast Jan. 23 on the cable channel AMC.

Nicole Kidman was last year's honoree, and previous recipients include Eddie Murphy, Mel Gibson, Sean Connery and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

American Cinematheque, a nonprofit arts organization, operates the landmark Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and uses proceeds from its annual awards ceremony to host screenings and other events.

Compliments from the Critics

Daily Variety
November 12, 2004, Friday
Martin's memorable moments

Peter Rainer, chairman of the National Society of Film Critics, spoke to Lawrence Christon and commented on a few of his favorite Steve Martin films.

"Pennies From Heaven"

"It was his second film after 'The Jerk' and it's amazing that he put himself in that picture, for what people expected ---happy feet, slapstick. It's a dark, Depression-era movie with allusions to Edward Hopper paintings and Walker Evans photos, which reflect his interest in art. It seemed an aberration in his career and his TV comedy arrow-in-the-head persona. But it makes more sense, once you look over his entire body of work. He showed a serious side, and played an unsympathetic character --- all while learning to tap-dance for the role. It's altogether an amazing movie. His part was quite daring, a hollow man playing in almost a kabuki aspect, stylized, passionate, yet small. For the first time we saw the nightmarish flip side to all his frenetic, manic comedy."

"All of Me"

"One of the most amazing comic performances of character within character. It wasn't just a stunt; you could see him inhabiting character beyond shtick. You look at him and think of Buster Keaton. There was something soulful and mysterious about Keaton that made him archetypal."

"The Man With Two Brains"

"A great silly comedy that's underrated. Gordon Willis shot it and gave it an unusual look for a dumb comedy. Martin plays a mad scientist type, Doctor Hfuhruhurr and he keeps changing the pronunciation himself. I think it's a hoot, especially the scene where he takes this brain out in a rowboat, rapturously in love with it. It's not just a parody. He brings too much intensity to the character and he doesn't settle for an easy joke. Again, it's a little frightening in a way. There's something closed off about Martin, shunted from full view, something bottled up inside him, like he's ready to explode. When it emerges, it's like something inside him throttles him and needs to get out."


"I think this is his best movie, beautifully directed by Fred Schepisi. It brought out an ardent quality more than any other film he's made. His feelings come out with a real purity. Playing romance and comedy at the same time is very hard to do. Cary Grant is one of the few who could manage it, but Martin gave his most beautifully physical comic performance and it was deeply touching. You saw the longing in his eyes and a way he used his body in harmony with his surroundings. It was one of the pure calisthenic pieces of film acting."

Martin-Stein some more

Daily Variety
November 12, 2004, Friday
'Mindy,' 'Perez' among prod pipeline projects

Joan Stein isn't coy about her thoughts on Steve Martin, her partner in the television production firm the Martin/Stein Co.

"The man's a genius," she says. "Truly, that's not an overstatement."

Collaborating often in the 10 years since Stein first produced Martin's play, "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," in cities across the country, Stein says the two formed early what has proven to be a lasting bond. Four years ago they decided to expand this professional relationship by creating a television company.

It's a business that's ramped up in recent months. In September, Martin/Stein announced a deal with Carsey-Werner to produce the tentatively titled "Mindy and Brenda," a WB half-hour laffer utilizing the writing/acting talents of Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers, creators of the play "Matt and Ben." ("About two female twentysomethings living on the cheap in Brooklyn," Stein says.)

The company is also overseeing "The Perez Family," a sitcom created by Mark Perez about a multigenerational Cuban-American family, in the works at Fox. And in October, Martin/Stein voiced its involvement in ABC's "The Scholar," a reality show in which 15 high school seniors who might not otherwise have a chance for a college education compete for a full scholarship to a school of their choice. Stein says Martin and she have different but complementary professional styles.

"If each person brings to the table the same thing, there's no reason to have a partnership," Stein says. She takes care of many day-to-day details, but they come together on all the important creative and business decisions.

"Imagine taking that enormous creative talent of Steve's and infusing any project with his perspective and his attitudes and experience and comedy and point of view-it always raises the bar."

She gladly calls Martin a "real gentleman" and a wonderful friend.

"So, you know, lucky me. Coming to work is fun."

Apparently Topper is still on

Daily Variety
November 11, 2004, Thursday
NEWS; Pg. 3

Walt Disney Studios has inked Offspring Entertainment partners Adam Shankman and Jennifer Gibgot to a second term.

The studio has also bought several comedies for the duo, several of which Shankman is expected to direct.

Shankman, who directed the Touchstone hit "Bringing Down the House," recently wrapped his second Disney outing, the Vin Diesel comedy "The Pacifier."

Offspring is developing with Mandeville Films a Randi Mayem Singer-scripted "Topper" remake that will reteam Shankman and Steve Martin. The director is also eyeing as a possible next film "The Other Guy," a script that Disney has purchased by Brent Goldberg and David Wagner ("The Girl Next Door"). The comedy revolves around a man in his 40s whose boredom with marriage leads him to lose his wife. By the time he comes to his senses, she has begun falling in love with a man half the husband's age.


Steve--"Thoughtful Comedian"

Daily Variety
November 12, 2004, Friday
Wild and renaissance guy

Author, actor, playwright, producer: multifaceted Martin conquers all

By the time a blue chip organization such as the American Cinematheque gets around to honoring an artist's career with its annual award, we not only know specifically what that artist has accomplished, but we have a fairly standard idea of what to expect in future work. With Steve Martin however, you never know what's coming next.

Martin is this year's award recipient, but unlike other protean figures such as Orson Welles or Peter Ustinov for example, outside of Happy Feet, a snappy physical angularity and the strenuously controlled panic attack, Martin scarcely owns a signature style. Not in his books ("Cruel Shoes" is not "Shopgirl"), not in his comedy ("King Tut" is not "the Great Flydinger") and not even in his movies, for which the Cinematheque is honoring him as writer as well as performer.

The comically manic figures of "The Jerk" and "All of Me" are not the coolly unsympathetic characters who appear in "Grand Canyon" and "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" doesn't prefigure "Parenthood," and neither prepares us for the seriousness of "The Spanish Prisoner."

And who would have expected, after a lifetime in commercial entertainment, the modernist esthetic and ambition of his stage play "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," or the mounting collection of short humor pieces that put him in the company of Robert Benchley and S.J. Perelman?

"He's a silly guy, apart from being brilliant," says writer-director Carl Reiner, who is a friend and has directed Martin in four films ("The Jerk," "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid," "The Man With Two Brains" and "All of Me").

By "silly" Reiner doesn't mean dopey or puerile; he means someone who sees odd juxtapositions and morphing categories that bump into each other --- an alertness to sudden possibility drawn from Martin's connoisseurial closeness with modern art.

"He's extraordinarily well-coordinated but not terribly graceful, which is one of the things that makes him so funny," adds Reiner. "'Happy Feet' best describes him. He can do the wild and crazy thing that's hysterical and so hip, then all of a sudden he can change. He's a very thoughtful comedian.

"Most of the things we see him do have been considered beforehand. He took tap dance lessons from Danny Daniels for 'Pennies From Heaven.' He prepared at home for the scene in 'All of Me' where the bowl of water falls out the window and the woman's soul enters his body. That brilliant walk --- where he's physically torn between a man and a woman fighting to take over his body --- was completely thought out beforehand and done in one take.

"There's an evolution to this guy. He studied philosophy in college. He's not finished. The most fascinating thing is that he doesn't stop to smell the roses. He goes right on to the next."

How has Martin managed such a voluminous career while avoiding the burnout mentioned by Lily Tomlin (his co-star in "All of Me") when she said, "The trouble with this industry is that it doesn't allow for the organism to rejuvenate"?

The answer may be in his insistence on the nourishing freedom of privacy. Nobody sees him take work home. He's notoriously skimpy with interviews. His name doesn't show up in standard encyclopedias and reference volumes, not even in Who's Who.

What little you'll find is cursory and even contradictory. Born Aug. 15, 1945, in Waco, Texas, Martin moved at age 5 with his parents to California. Learned magic tricks and sleight-of-hand early on. Worked at Disneyland. Left college (a couple of Web references cite UCLA; his publicist says Long Beach State) to write for "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," then took his act on the road.

For the rest, what we see is what we get. Stand-up was in rough shape during the '60s, when rock music was king and, with few exceptions, comedy was in transition between Borscht Belt "take-my-wife-please" address and the brick wall and hand mike boom of the late '70s. The club scene was small; we knew George Carlin and Bill Cosby largely through television and records. Only Martin, with his white suit, banjo and an arrow through his head, knew how to make a spectacle of himself alone onstage in huge rock venues that would dwarf a less visual performer.

The career that followed has indeed been encyclopedic.

"Well excu-u-u-u-s-e me" has become part of the national parlance. His shake-and-shimmy appearance with Dan Aykroyd as "two wild and crazy guys" was a comic send-up of every young women's dating nightmare and a must-see on "Saturday Night Live."

He was a favorite of Johnny Carson's when Carson was king of latenight. His Flydini routine, in which a number of presentations --- hankies, flags of the world, a singing puppet --- are made through a magician's fly, is a cripplingly funny classic.

"When I see Steve Martin, I see a writer's mind at work," says writer Larry Gelbart. "He works direct, without speed bumps. It's pure, no influences. I was amazed at the job he did with 'Roxanne.' He took a foreign cartoon period figure and made it American and current. The trip he's made in the public mind, from arrow in the head to everything he's become now, including hit author, is very surprising."

And apparently unending.

Adds Gelbart, "Every once in a while he opens a new office in his head."

Steve the Intellectual

Daily Variety
November 12, 2004, Friday
A city's cinematic soul

Steve Martin's story is far from finished, which alone is notable for a guy who began as an engaging but clownish goon of a standup comic in the early '70s.

The course that Martin has traveled from his routines on Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show" to being one of the only Hollywood stars to have written full-fledged novels and plays may seem unmatched except by Woody Allen (the pair have even regularly contributed light comic aperitifs over the years to the New Yorker), but there are several striking differences. Not least of them is that while Allen took to directing and increasingly sticking close to a few choice square miles of midtown Manhattan, Martin has remained a writer-performer interested in everything but autobiography and with a strong desire to explore and understand Los Angeles.

In fact, Martin's approach to his adopted city (he is originally from Laura Bush country, in Waco, Texas) provides a way of tracing his evolution from a wild and crazy guy into a real artist. His first real stab at Los Angeles was his 1991 "L.A. Story," a loving/lampooning postcard of a movie that packed enough cartoonish jokes about the place into its running time to satisfy any outsider's fears and any local's best and worst memories.

The movie is such a slice of its time, though, that it's datedness is pretty stunning, and its depiction of Los Angeles is strictly that of a privileged and map-challenged Westsider who somehow gets from his Westside apartment to a Hollywood TV studio via the Los Angeles River downtown.

By the time Martin got around a few years later to writing his beautiful novel, "Shopgirl" (which he has adapted for the screen starring himself and Claire Danes), the city and the people in it --- some directly matching those in "L.A. Story" --- have become truer and more painful, the cliches dropping away and being replaced by a world with people living quietly, desperately.

That's why the frat boys who loved to mimic Martin in the '70s when he became a huge star via his live shows, recordings and his fabulous string of guest-host appearances on "Saturday Night Live" were shocked when the guy in the banana suit immediately turned around and played a tragic Depression-era man in the film version of Dennis Potter's "Pennies From Heaven." This turn hinted at things to come: Martin was sending out the signal that there was more to him than a wide grin, a gangly body and a flat voice that could suddenly erupt with hilarity.

Another sign was Martin's emergence as a playwright with "Picasso at the Lapin Agile." Those anticipating that a Martin play would be a variation on the standup act were amazed that this guy could write --- not just a screenplay, not just a scene, but a sustained, multiact stage comedy.

Typical Martin, "Picasso" perfectly encapsulates how he follows in the American showbiz tradition of men such as Victor Borge, Will Rogers and even Orson Welles. Martin is smart enough to not only know his art (he has long been one of Los Angeles' most serious art patrons and promoters) but to show it in his material. His play reveals an understanding of Paris' cubist moment, and his prose is sprinkled with references to Ed Ruscha, Helen Frankenthaler and other artists.

"Picasso," though, is a light boulevard comedy (as the French term it) that hardly gets at issues about art the way that, for instance, playwright Donald Margulies has. Martin, like Borge, is an educated, cultured man who has the American instinct for not pushing his audience too far about his knowledge, and a knack for making it all a joke in the end.

He'll pull back from getting too serious: "Pennies From Heaven" wasn't a hit, so he knew better and opted to write sillier movies in the '80s like "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid," "The Man With Two Brains" and "Three Amigos!" Then, with the clown back in place, he could turn to the more nuanced and literary-tinged comedy of "Roxanne."

Since his 1997 dramatic turn in David Mamet's "The Spanish Prisoner," Martin has entered his most interesting phase, where there's no way to predict what he'll do next. He's alternated Hollywood acting jobs in "Cheaper by the Dozen," "Bringing Down the House" and "The Out-of-Towners" (and next, "The Pink Panther" as Inspector Clouseau) with interesting indie film roles in "Joe Gould's Secret" and "Novocaine." His diversity has become shocking, from his superb double-play as writer and co-star of "Bowfinger" --- his best film --- to his extreme comedic turn in Joe Dante's badly underrated "Looney Tunes: Back in Action."

The relative shtick of his second novel, "The Pleasure of My Company," may indicate that Martin doesn't have a real second novel in him. But this is one unashamedly intellectual clown who isn't afraid of revealing more sides to himself than anyone had any right to expect.

Since the Steve Martin story is incomplete, it's best to expect more surprises.

On Pink Panther and Shopgirl

Daily Variety
November 12, 2004, Friday
Thesp's scribe vibe elevates 'Panther,' 'Shopgirl'

Like a man with two brains, Steve Martin has balanced dual onscreen personalities throughout his career --- wild, crazy guy and sensitive man.

Next year, "The Pink Panther" and "Shopgirl" mark a return for both personas.

In MGM's "Panther," Martin's take on Inspector Clouseau harks back to his physical antics in 1979's "The Jerk," while in "Shopgirl" (Disney; no release date set), Ray Porter is reminiscent of the actor's romantic philosopher from 1991's "L.A. Story."

And as in eight of his previous pics, Martin is writing the script as well.

"Steve Martin as writer-star is quite different from Steve Martin as star," says director Shawn Levy, helmer of both "Panther" and "Cheaper by the Dozen." "As a star, Steve leaves his character at the door. If it's his screenplay, however, he's constantly thinking about the material."

Initially, Martin was reluctant to play Clouseau but was convinced to take the part after discussing the character with Levy.

Martin tinkered with the screenplay and while he kept writer Len Blum's plot intact --- the murder of a world famous soccer coach and the theft of the Pink Panther ring --- it abandoned flashbacks of Clouseau, originally written for a younger actor.

Most of all, Martin spiced up the script's physical comedy, particularly run-ins between Clouseau and his boss, Dreyfuss (played by Kevin Kline).

Adapted from Martin's four-year-old novella about a Beverly Hills department store clerk's love affair with a millionaire twice her age, "Shopgirl" drew from Martin's life experiences. Similar to "L.A. Story" in its take on Angelino foibles, "Shopgirl" also accentuated Martin's ability to write from a female's p.o.v.

"Steve is trying to figure out how women work, and in the process of coming to that understanding, he's writing about them," says Claire Danes, who plays the lovelorn protagonist Mirabelle in "Shopgirl." Levy and "Shopgirl" helmer Anand Tucker acknowledge the assistance the actor gives them in executing their vision. Martin isn't one to dole out notes to his fellow actors, yet might gingerly provide advice on occasion.

"There was a moment when my character was entering a restaurant and fumbling with the door," says Danes. "Steve gave me the mathematical equation in terms of opening it, helping me to exploit the moment."

Levy's luck in linking up with the actor immediately stemmed from his thorough understanding of Martin's process.

"Steve isn't an actor of 30 takes. He rarely does more than three. He doesn't want a fishing expedition but, rather, a plan," explains Levy. "In a time when comedy cinema works in set pieces, Steve also knows that the biggest laughs don't come from the biggest ideas."

Rivaling Martin's four-letter tirade in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" is a brief incident in "Panther" when Clouseau attempts to cover up his accent while ordering a hamburger.

In box office terms, Martin has experienced a renaissance, racking up two career highs in a row: 2001's "Bringing Down the House ($ 133 million domestically) and last year's "Dozen" ($ 139 million).

"Steve doesn't pick movies for mercenary reasons," Levy says. "He recognizes his audience is constantly changing. It wasn't his original fan base that gave him these two biggest hits. Rather, he's constantly being discovered and pairing himself with performers that appeal to different demos."
Thursday, November 11, 2004

A new article on the Cinematheque Award Saturday Night

thanks to Mary Ann
Published Nov. 11, 2004
American Cinematheque Award: Steve Martin
The actor-writer-comedian -- honored at this year's MOving Picture Ball -- might be as smart as he is funny.
By Wolf Schneider

Martin steps into the role of Inspector Clouseau for MGM's "The Pink Panther"
With the "wild and crazy guy" as his suave alter ego and the attention-grabbing "Well, excuuuuuse me!" as his careerlong mantra, Steve Martin has made a gold mine of sending up the human condition. His journey from selling 25-cent guidebooks to Disneyland at age 11 to nabbing a reported $17.5 million paycheck for MGM's upcoming reinterpretation of "The Pink Panther" has been a natural evolution for the prolific film star and writer, whose situational comedy and light drama draws as much on absurdist principles as it does on deeper satirical paradoxes.

By synthesizing the clever, the cerebral and the goofy with his brand of postmodern self-referential humor, Martin has won Emmys and Grammys, filled 20,000-seat arenas as a stand-up comic, starred in 40 feature films during a 25-year span, hosted the Academy Awards and proved his own manifesto, "Chaos in the midst of chaos isn't funny, but chaos in the midst of order is."

Martin is likely to toss off bons mots like that and more when he accepts the 19th annual American Cinematheque Award, which will be presented during Friday's Moving Picture Ball at the Beverly Hilton. Friends and peers will be there to lend their support and share insight about the zany and brainy comedian.

"This idea of jokes that keep folding in on themselves, it's his comedic process," says Kevin Kline, who appears with Martin in the recently wrapped "Panther."

"It's uniquely his; it just keeps commenting on itself and taking another turn," Kline says. "I mean, he can do slapstick, farcical acting and he can do witty repartee -- and in his writing, it spans a spectrum from low humor to high wit."

Behind it all, there is a brain in overdrive.

"Steve is an intellectual," says Diane Keaton, who made "Father of the Bride" hit features with Martin in 1991 and 1995. "That's what he's aces at doing: using his brain. He thinks more than anyone I know or am friends with, with the exception of only one other person: Woody Allen.

"I find the similarities between the two of them fascinating: Both are magicians, they're both extremely hard workers, they're very disciplined, and they're extremely curious," Keaton adds. "Their brilliance is in how they explore human behavior as performers, as writers and as comedians."

Brian Grazer, who has produced four Martin movies and also is a friend, agrees.

"He's really, really smart; I guess when you're really smart and you see the truth of things, he's able to sort of bust the world," Grazer says. "He's always ahead of everybody or deeper into the truth of what's actually going on. The comedians are smarter than shit, man -- they are really smart. Their sensitivity is so fine-tuned."

omedy always has been Martin's calling. Born Aug. 14, 1945, in Waco, Texas, to a homemaker mother and a Baylor University drama instructor father, he grew up glued to Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis movies. When Steve was 5, his family relocated to Inglewood, Calif., then to nearby Orange County, where his father entered the real estate business and Steve got a job selling guidebooks at Disneyland (he later worked at the park's magic shop).

By the time he graduated high school in 1963, Martin had perfected his enthusiastic delivery of, "Well, excuuuuuse me!" and, "We're having some fun now!" as well as the wearing of an "arrow through head" prop -- all of which he would use in his stand-up routines. He studied philosophy at California State University at Long Beach and theater at UCLA then nabbed a berth during the late 1960s as a writer on CBS' "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," which led to a decade of increasing popularity as a TV comedy writer, stand-up comic and frequent guest star on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" and "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."

In 1979, Martin collaborated with Carl Reiner, the director who some observers credit with discovering Martin and who certainly launched him into feature films.

"He and his friends had written a thing called 'Easy Money,' and David Picker, who was going to produce the picture, needed a director," Reiner says. "Steve already was a major rock-star comedian: He would sell out bowls, the big venues and ballparks doing his crazy, funny thing. The movie is based on his act: There was one line in his act -- 'I was born a poor black child' -- and from that, we built this whole movie."

"Easy Money" was retitled "The Jerk," Martin came away with a girlfriend in co-star Bernadette Peters, and Reiner guided Martin into the '80s, directing him again in 1982's "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid," 1983's "The Man With Two Brains" and 1984's "All of Me."

"He's got what we call 'a little curvature of the brain,'" Reiner says of Martin's approach. "He knows the cliche and avoids it like the plague, but he can take cliches and turn them into something new. There's a silliness to him that he plays seriously, and it's engaging. He also looks like an accountant or like he could be a senator."

Martin recalled his Texas roots for the 1986 cowboy-comedy sendup "Three Amigos" -- which he wrote with Lorne Michaels and Randy Newman and in which he co-stars with "SNL" cronies Chevy Chase and Martin Short -- and shows what he had learned about the business by wagging his finger at Joe Mantegna's studio mogul character and declaring, "No dough, no show." Ever adept at physical comedy, Martin twirls guns, renders rope tricks, rides horseback and executes some fancy footwork and tush-wiggling during the movie's "My Little Buttercup" sequence.

"He's got what we call 'a little curvature of the brain.'" -- Carl Reiner
"Steve loves to rehearse and get it right, and I'm a little obsessive too," Short says. "So (there was) a lot of tush-rehearsing on the 'My Little Buttercup' number."

Short picked up a career longevity tip from Martin during production of "Amigos."

"He has an ability to not take things personally, and that's how you survive," Short says. "You're finished? You don't take it personally."

Frank Oz then helmed Martin as a demented dentist in the 1986 comedy "Little Shop of Horrors."

"At that time, it was (written like) 'Happy Days,' and he didn't want to be Fonzie," Oz says. "I said, 'Absolutely.' He wanted to be more of an Elvis Presley character; I said, 'Absolutely -- sounds great.'"

Oz directed Martin again in the farcical 1988 feature "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," in which Martin plays a dimwitted swindler -- a "moron," in the words of Michael Caine's cultured French Riviera con artist, whom Martin's character emulates.

Off-screen, though, Caine was surprised by Martin.

"He is so schizophrenic," Caine says. "If you meet him, you think you're going to meet this wild and crazy nut case; that was always his thing -- the 'wild and crazy guy.' It's ironic, really, because that's exactly what he isn't: He's the quietest, most intellectual sort of computer nerd."

Caine was impressed when, after rehearsing a scene in which his character dominates, Martin told Oz: "Let's not shoot this tonight; this isn't funny enough. I'll write something for Michael."

Says Caine: "The next day, he gave me two pages of very funny dialogue to say! He'd gone to all this trouble for another actor.

"What I learned is that if you are with someone who is doing zany, you have to be absolutely straight because you both can't do it," Caine adds. "(Martin) taught me how far you can go with zany and still be natural and sincere about it."

The following year, Martin starred in the hit comedy "Parenthood" produced by Grazer, who went on to produce the Martin starrers "Housesitter" (1992), "Sgt. Bilko" (1996) and "Bowfinger" (1999). Of the latter film, Grazer notes: "When Steve gave me the (Martin-penned) script for 'Bowfinger,' it wasn't written for (co-star) Eddie Murphy -- it was written for a white action star. It was written for Keanu Reeves, literally. I said, 'Why does it have to be an action star?' He said, 'That's the joke.' I said: 'What if it were Eddie Murphy, and Eddie Murphy played two characters? That could be really funny.' He said: 'You know, that'd be great -- that'd be brilliant. Let's do that.' He processed it in about a minute, and he made a creative sea change."

Martin shows a tender side in 1991's "L.A. Story," which he also penned, and again mines his emotional depths on the "Father of the Bride" movies.

"I came to it thinking, 'I'm the actress, and he's the comedian,'" Keaton says. "(But) one day, he blew me away when he just started crying in a scene."

At 57, Martin proved his urban-youth appeal by slouching undercover hilariously as an Eminem-imitating "white homeboy" opposite Queen Latifah in 2003's "Bringing Down the House," which grossed $132.5 million domestically.

Later that year, Martin made "Cheaper by the Dozen" with director Shawn Levy, who also is helming "Panther," in which Martin fills the late Peter Sellers' shoes as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau.

"What makes Steve funny is two things: First, his ability to create absurdist circumstances and play them straight, whether it's an arrow in his head or an entire magic act played through the fly of his pants," Levy says. "(But) he can also take the real world and a realistic context and find the absurd therein."

Although characterized as a romantic comedy, Buena Vista's upcoming release "Shopgirl" -- for which Martin wrote the screenplay and in which he stars with Claire Danes -- is based on Martin's best-selling novella, which is as melancholy as it is trenchant. In telling of an affair between a listless department store employee and a wealthy older businessman, Martin writes of a philanderer who "is using the hours with her as a portal to his own need for propinquity."

"(The script) was even more strangely intimate than I had anticipated," Danes says. "It's based on an actual relationship that he had."

That made for a set with a shifting emotional undertone.

"We're all so accustomed to his clownish, extroverted persona; he's not antithetical to that (in actuality), but he's very observant and thinking," Danes says. "Occasionally, he'd crack a joke, and I'd go: 'Oh, right! You're an iconic comic; you're one of the funniest people on the planet.' But we'd all forget."

Perhaps what Martin does best, then, is find humor in pain.

"I think turning angst into art -- turning existential agony into art, and yes, turning misery into art -- is very much a part of it," Levy says. "When he does that conversion, it's not just with humor -- it's with genuine humanity."

Published Nov. 11, 2004
Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Could this be about the Gourmet Poker Club? Just curious.
Washington Times
November 9, 2004
Opinion/Op Ed
Deal with it, Hollywood
By Burt Prelutsky

This past election was the most bitterly fought in memory, but nowhere was it waged more vituperatively than in Hollywood. In recent months, lifelong friendships have been torn asunder. Just this morning, I heard about a poker game involving writers and producers that had weathered 20 years of trials and tribulations but could not survive George W. Bush's re-election.
Sunday, November 07, 2004

A new piece by Steve -- why didn't he tell me?

"Dimensions" by Gray Foy, the inspiration for the article.

The New York Times
November 7, 2004 Sunday
Late Edition - Final
Section 2; Column 2; Arts and Leisure Desk; ART; Pg. 24
The Masterpiece in the Hallway

IN 1980, I was in Los Angeles filming the movie ''Pennies From Heaven,'' on the lot at MGM, which bore the musty patina of old Hollywood. The studio still maintained rehearsal halls lined with mirrors and ballet barres, and little clouds of antique dust would explode from the floors with each heel-stomp of the time-step. My enthusiasm for the movie kept me tap-dancing to exhaustion, acting my head off (which I learned later in my career was not the best approach) and enthralled with the heady stream of visitors -- which included Cary Grant -- who would come by to see the nostalgically staged musical numbers. The director of the film, Herbert Ross, along with his wife, the former prima ballerina Nora Kaye, were highly regarded in the loftier circles of the New York dance scene, and it was they who took me to my first ballet.

One of the visitors to the set was Leo Lerman, who was friendly with both Herbert and my co-star, Bernadette Peters. Leo, then in his 60's, was the features editor for Vogue magazine, having ascended to the position through a long history of cultural duties, including a stint as a critic for Dance Magazine. He was a genuine aesthete, with his general posture not being a critic of the arts, but a lover of them. He was versed in painting, opera, symphonic music, ballet and theater, and could recall decades-old performances and still laud them. He also balanced himself on a cane, and over the years deteriorated until his gait was so impossibly slow that we all had to engage in lengthy conversations to kill time while Leo entered the room at tortoise pace.

Leo's companion was Gray Foy. Seven years younger than Leo, Gray was equally sophisticated in the arts, and for almost five decades everywhere Leo was, he was too, tirelessly assisting Leo as he grew increasingly slow and needy. Gray had a gentle charm and was never afraid to express his artistic opinion, but I assumed his sole function in life was to be the keeper of Leo's halo.

In the early 1980's, I was invited to a dinner party at their grand apartment on West 57th Street. Leo and Gray had an eye for things, and the apartment was elegantly overstuffed with Old World collectibles. Ceramic figurines sat on the mantels of the two or three fireplaces, paintings crowded the walls and included a wonderfully bizarre collection of two dozen 19th-century Italian volcano pictures, which showed various glowing nighttime eruptions while small figurines of peasants watched helplessly below. Also included in the treasures were a few fine 19th-century American pictures; a nice W.H. Beard, the fanciful -- yet serious -- painter of bears cavorting; and an exceptional William Mason Brown, who painted photorealistic still lives of, among other things, cherries in hats. All this was augmented by period furniture that set off the artworks in Victorian splendor.

But the most noticeable feature of the apartment was the books. They crowded the hallways, ringed every floor of every room, and made every trip to the bathroom a side-stepping tango. Avid readers, and reluctant to throw out such worthy friends, Leo and Gray stacked the books along every baseboard until they rose precariously to the limit of balance.

I had been a collector of one thing or another my whole life, and my current interest was in 19th-century American painting, so while guests gathered for dinner, I asked Gray if he would show me around the apartment. This excursion to survey stuff was probably also motivated by the desire to avoid group greetings, which, in spite of a lifetime of appearing in front of crowds, made me nervous and uncomfortable. I longed for the repartee of the dinner, which I deeply enjoyed listening to and to which I could sometimes accidentally contribute a near bon-mot, but sneaking away to look at art could get me out of 15 minutes of predinner chitchat. Gray accommodated me, and we went from room to room as I tried, secretly, to estimate everything's value and pointlessly gauge its authenticity.

We went down a back hallway, which was hung high and low with smaller artworks, photos and memorabilia. I passed a drawing, hard to read in the dim light. It was done in fine pencil, extreme in detail, a monochromatic rainbow of gray gradients on white paper. The picture had its heart in Surrealism, more akin to the Russian Pavel Tchelitchew than Dali, though the quality of the draftsmanship rivaled Dali at his best. The drawing was done in the early 40's, before Abstract Expressionism obliterated the art world's need for academic drawing. It had other roots too. There was something old master-ish about it, Bosch-like, reminiscent of a dark etching emerging from the stylus of a 16th-century obsessive.

The elements in the drawing were human figures -- mostly female, mostly tortured -- chairs, vaulted geometric planes, vines, flowers and splayed cadavers, Arcimboldo-style horses coalescing out of tree branches. There was a man's trousered leg dangling mysteriously into frame like Manet's Folies-Bergere trapeze artist. There were udders, mouths and teeth, chimerical sea creatures and a few unrecognizable manifestations. The drawing was lush with Surrealist imagery that was woven together seamlessly. I am not a sucker for photorealistic skill, but the microscopic details were effortlessly done and expertly supported the drawing's content. I felt I was looking at an exceptional artwork.

I turned to Gray and said, ''Who did this?''

He said, ''I did.''

He pointed out several of his other drawings in the hallway, each of the same quality, though smaller in size and scope.

I said, ''Do you still draw?''

''No,'' he said.

''Why did you quit?'' I said.

''To take care of Leo,'' he said.

After that night, I didn't see the drawing for 24 years.

After Leo died in 1994, I saw Gray occasionally, inviting him to lunch around the corner from his midtown apartment. Gray was still vibrant, though slowed down, and he remained polite and unassuming. And he had a head of gray hair so dense that I understood what Jimmy Carter meant when he reiterated, ''Life isn't fair.'' At the last lunch we had, this past spring, Gray had told me he was undergoing chemotherapy. He made jokes about his ailments, and he always kept lunch brief, probably on the assumption that I was ''busy.'' I walked him back to his apartment and within a few days went to Paris to finish shooting the film I was working on.

While in Paris, living in the kind of luxury that you only responsibly indulge in when someone else is paying for it, I thought about Gray and wondered if he might need money. I guessed, with no evidence at all, that the estate might have dwindled through the years and that the chemo probably had put an enormous pressure on whatever was left. Gray and I did not have the kind of relationship where an outright gift would be appropriate nor did I know him well enough to ask if he was financially O.K., yet I felt that there was something suitable that could be done.

Over cocktails with a friend, I was telling the story of Gray Foy and Leo Lerman, when I remembered the drawing. I wondered about offering to buy it from him. At first it sounded sinister, like a midnight raid on someone's personal possessions. But I remembered what a painter friend once said, ''Artists love it when you love their work.'' I thought it over for a few days and decided that it was a legitimate way to send some money his way, as my regard for the drawing was real. I thought about the price and came up with a decent figure, an amount respectful for the drawing and enough to perhaps ease whatever burden he might be under. I called him from Paris and asked how he was. I loved his straightforward answer: ''Oh, not so good.'' We chatted a bit then, I told him how much I had loved the drawing and remembered it through the years and wondered if he would consider selling it. He seemed surprised and elated, and said jokingly -- though I wasn't sure if it actually was a joke -- ''that'll pay for a week of chemo!'' I sent off the check that day.

Four weeks later I returned to New York and made a date to visit Gray to say hello and pick up the picture. I wondered if I had exaggerated its quality or if my taste had changed and I would no longer appreciate it the way I did over two decades ago. In fact, my memory of liking it was actually stronger than my memory of the drawing itself. I was greeted at the door by Gray's friend Joel Kaye. I didn't understand their relationship other than that Joel seemed to be taking care of Gray. I didn't know what to expect of Gray's condition, but he came down the hall confidently and though a tad frail, had a spryness that instantly relaxed me.

Gray and Joel led me to the drawing, which had been moved from the back hallway to the front room. The daylight that fell on it everyday except the gloomiest made me nervous, as no work on paper should be anywhere near the sunlight. The drawing was at least twice as large as I remembered it (it is 22 inches high by 28 inches across), and seeing it now was a fresh experience. I was startled by its complexity and detail. It was done during the war, Gray said, when he had been working in a warplane factory in Burbank, Calif. It had taken him several years to complete. The picture was even better than I recollected, and its date, the early 1940's, made it part of the peripheral history of Surrealism and not a one-off anomaly by a talented artist. The drawing was fully mature, without a weak moment, and possessing its own voice. Some of the passages appeared to accomplish the impossible: certain strokes seemed smaller than a pencil point. The world-class quality of the work could very likely make him the most advanced artist and finest draftsman working in California in the 1940's.

I rhapsodized over the drawing for a bit, went to look at a few other of his smaller drawings in the hallway, and Gray's tiredness indicated it was time to go. Before I left the apartment, Joel took me aside and asked if they could get a full- size reproduction of the picture to rehang in the apartment. I had no idea how to do it, but I said I would try.

Then he asked if I knew anything about the taxes that might apply on the sale of the artwork. ''We're in the 50 percent bracket, you know.''

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Steve shows his political stripes
Page Six
NY Post Online
Richard Johnson

DEMOCRATS buoyed by errant exit polls went out to celebrate on Election Night, but ended up drowning their sorrows at somber gatherings, dumbstruck that John Kerry had lost to George W. Bush.

The bash Harvey Weinstein and Georgette Mosbacher threw at The Palm on West 50th Street was supposed to be bipartisan. But since Republicans are as scarce in Man
hattan as snail darters, Georgette and her GOP friends were heavily outnumbered by Harvey and his Democratic devotees.

As midnight approached and Ohio was declared a red state, the mood turned funereal. Tina Brown made for the exit with her husband, Sir Harry Evans, saying, "I have to go home and put an ice bag on my head."

Also looking grim were Bianca Jagger, who is described these days as a "human rights activist," voter registration driver Russell Simmons, and Lally Weymouth, whose family controls the Washington Post.

As Barbara Walters, Howard Stringer, Gigi Stone, Teddy Forstmann, Leonard and Alison Stern, and Hearst chairman/CEO Walter Ganzi watched the TV monitors, Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau worked the crowd with his wife, Lucinda Franks, showing that he's still got what it takes at 85 to fend off a challenge from Leslie Crocker Snyder.

The biggest smile in the house was on the face of Giuseppe Cipriani. The restaurateur was with Yvonne Scio, the gorgeous Italian actress who was once engaged to Rocco DiSpirito. Cipriani laughed, "She used to go out with a cook."

George Soros, the hedge fund billionaire who spent at least $27 million trying to defeat Bush, threw a party in his Upper East Side apartment where Lauren Hutton, Denise Rich, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg devoured lamb chops as Kerry crashed and burned. But Soros maintained a stiff upper lip. "He's proud of what he's done," said one guest.

Things were livelier at the Park Avenue maisonette of Bill and Pat Buckley. Republicans Henry and Nancy Kissinger, Oscar and Annette de la Renta and Drue Heinz watched the votes come in.

In L.A., the place to be was David Geffen's mansion, where Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, Will Ferrell, Steve Martin and Warren Beatty and Annette Bening came to party, and ended up consoling each other. Sources said Geffen had laid up cases and cases of vintage champagne, and not one bottle was uncorked.

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