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Thomas Named Knicks Manager; Renee Zellweger at Letterman; Ian McKellen at LOTR Screening

       
  Spike Lee and Isaiah Thomas at Madison Square Garden   Renee Zellweger at Letterman   Sir Ian McKellen at LOTR screening  

December 22 – It took three e-mails from Chris Rock to convince director Spike Lee that the New York Knicks were appointing Isaiah Thomas as the team’s new manager. “Get out of here”, Lee responded at first, and Rock finally told him to check ESPN, which aired the story. So basketball fan Lee dashed over to the press conference at Madison Square Garden to congratulate Thomas in person.

We’d say Renee Zellweger has lost a lot, but not quite all, of the weight she put on for her role in the Bridget Jones sequel. The usually buff actress looked rather voluptuous at The Late Show with David Letterman, where she was promoting her newest film Cold Mountain, in theaters Christmas day.

Later that afternoon, tourists lunching at Planet Hollywood on Times Square got an eyeful of Ian McKellen who hosted a private screening of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The screening was the culmination of an essay contest for New York City school students. McKellen said it was fitting that 13-year-old winner Vivian Truong of Brooklyn attends the Mark Twain school.

 

 

Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Benefit Auction

       
  Tony Hawk   Boris Becker   Monica Seles  

December 18 – Who’d have thought tennis champ Boris Becker would have a second career as a car salesman? At Christie’s for an auction of the very first production model Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, to benefit the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, Becker told us he couldn’t afford the €1.5 million the car was expected to bring. Then he added, “Plus, I have a couple of dealerships for Mercedes. So I would be foolish to buy cars when I own dealerships”. Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk told us that he’d consider buying one of the $400,000+ McLarens “if they bring the price down about a hundred times”. Other sporty types on hand were Monica Seles, Nadia Comaneci, John McEnroe and Edwin Moses. No one was more sporting than Long Island auto dealer Juliana Terian, who won the bidding at €1.7 million (about U.S. $2.1 million) in two minutes flat.

 

 

Film Premieres: The Statement; Big Fish; House of Sand and Fog; The Company; Monster

       
  Jennifer Connelly & Paul Bettany at House of Sand and Fog   Ewan McGregor & Matthew McGrory at Big Fish   Director Patty Jenkins & Charlize Theron at Monster  
       
  Helena Bonham Carter at Big Fish   Billy Crudup at Big Fish   Neve Campbell at The Company  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
  Ben Kingsley & wife Alexandra at House of Sand and Fog   Richard Gere at The Company   Michael & Shakira Caine at The Statement  

December 3-17 – Ah, the holidays. Family gatherings, gifts, parties. One tradition we at Open All Night uphold every December is attending movie premieres. Our gift lists unchecked, cookie sheets cold, carols unsung, stockings unhung, we spend night after night after December night going to movie premieres. Oh yes, in addition to the big titles we’ve featured earlier this month, we’ve plumbed our archives back to the beginning of the month and rounded up a bit of what the studios rolled out in this year’s Oscar rush.

With so many films being released, and the new trend for simultaneous releases all over the globe, even the stars themselves sometimes skip the premieres. Michael Caine and director Norman Jewison actually waited around for us to get to the premiere of their Nazi thriller The Statement. This unprecedented accommodation to the press was due to the fact that the Jack Nicholson/Diane Keaton vehicle Something’s Gotta Give premiered the same evening (see coverage below).

At the premiere of Tim Burton’s Big Fish, no one dared to ask star Billy Crudup the big question: how could he leave his pregnant girlfriend Mary Louise Parker? Horror flick regular, 7’6” actor Matthew McGrory (towering over Ewan McGregor in photo at left), who is in Big Fish, showed up at the previous night’s premiere, but nobody recognized him, even though he’s hard to miss.

On a snowy Friday night at the premiere of House of Sand and Fog, we stared daggers at a woman carrying a screaming baby into the theater, until we recognized the blonde man she handed the infant to as Paul Bettany, husband of the film’s star Jennifer Connelly. “You like being a dad?” we asked? “I love it!” Bettany replied, marching down the aisle, bouncing the tot.

Richard Gere and Carrie Lowell turned up at the premiere of Neve Campbell’s dance-themed The Company, and at the overcrowded and overheated after party at Elaine’s. Christina Ricci was a no-show, but costar Charlize Theron, a former model, was svelte and glamorous again after gaining weight for her role as a serial killer in Monster.

And now we’re off to holiday shopping, cooking, cleaning, baking and entertaining. But first we need a drink.

 

 

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Screening

       
  Billy Boyd   Sean Astin & Elijah Wood   Ethan Hawke has a snack  

December 15 – We got off the subway at the Middle Earth stop on Monday, but didn’t run into any Hobbits until we reached the advance screening of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, the final chapter in the LOTR trilogy. Not really a premiere, this screening was more about the fans, who were thrilled to mix with cast members Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan at the AMC theater on 42nd Street, near Times Square. Model Sophie Dahl, New York Governor George Pataki and Ethan Hawke were also spotted grabbing the ring.

 

 

Mona Lisa Smile Premiere

       
  Julia Roberts   Maggie & Jake Gyllenhaal   Julia Stiles  
       
  James Gandolfini & girlfriend Lora Somoza   Kirsten Dunst   Marcia Gay Harden  

December 10 – At least the original Mona Lisa posed for Leonardo Da Vinci. At the premiere of her new film, Mona Lisa Smile, Pretty Woman Julia Roberts was a pretty mean woman, sweeping by a phalanx of photographers, who booed loudly as she interviewed with a TV reporter. Roberts eventually stopped talking, went back and posed for photos, and then returned to complete the interview. That first TV crew was the lucky one; Roberts then proceeded on down the red carpet, deigning only to drop a few words here and there to the rest of the assembled world’s media – from the AP to Xtra! – who all came to see, well, her.

Mona Lisa Smile is about college women’s lives circa 1953, and we got a perverse kick from hearing these fortunate young actresses discuss the film’s themes: Julia Stiles: “We can have it all, and I think we’re very fortunate to have more options these days, as to if we want to have a career. I think it’s much easier, certainly monetarily. When you’re an actor, you work for three months, & then you have time off.” Kirsten Dunst: “I don’t feel powerful, but I can make a choice.” Maggie Gyllenhaal, whose mother is a screenwriter and grandmother was a doctor: “I think I’m in a really privileged place in terms of what women are entitled to.”

It wasn’t only the media that came to ogle Roberts. Spotted at the Ziegfeld and after party at the Plaza Hotel were The SopranosJames Gandolfini, musicians Seal and Michael Stipe, and actors Jeff Bridges, Holly Hunter, and Jake Gyllenhaal, who is Maggie’s brother and Kirsten Dunst’s amore.

 

 

Premieres: Stuck on You and Cold Mountain

       
  Matt Damon at Stuck on You premiere   Cher with son Elijah Blue Allman at Stuck on You premiere   Nicole Kidman at Cold Mountain premiere  
       
  Greg Kinnear & Meryl Streep at Stuck on You premiere   Eva Mendes at Stuck on You premiere   Jude Law at Cold Mountain premiere  

December 8-9 – Matt Damon has dumped Ben Affleck for Greg Kinnear! OK, bad joke, but at least we refrained from telling you that they’re inseparable. The two play conjoined twins in the Farrelly brothers’ new film , Stuck on You. At the premiere at the Chelsea West Cinemas, the Farrelly brothers, who are not conjoined but otherwise seem to operate as a unit, told us that one of the reasons they selected Damon and Kinnear is that both are easy going and laid back, since being attached for three months isn’t easy. “On the days where we had the prosthetic – those are not our pale purple nipples and those are not our hairy backs - it was about twelve hours to get into, we stood side by side, and then we worked for five”, Kinnear said. We don’t want to contemplate bathroom breaks. Cher plays herself in the film, and the miraculously wrinkle-free one air kissed Meryl Streep, Lara Flynn Boyle and the Queer Eye guys at the premiere. Oh, and Matt Damon’s date was his mother.

They’re not conjoined, darn it, but Nicole Kidman and Jude Law play lovers in the Civil War drama Cold Mountain, which premiered the next night. Kidman said that being the romantic that she is, she sees it as a movie about love, “About two people who meet, fall in love, and make a pledge to each other.” Less romantic, mother-of-two Kidman said she'll spend the holidays "on an island, with my family". (So maybe she's staying at home on Manhattan island?) Law professed to be ignoring Oscar buzz, and is just proud of the film. Costars Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Natalie Portman both turned up for the premiere, but Renee Zellweger was reportedly in London and couldn’t make it.

 

 

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