By Eileen Murphy
The Cannes Film Festival folded its tents for another season, but not before showing the world 20 — count ’em, 20 — minutes of Martin Scorsese’s hotly anticipated Irish-themed epic, “Gangs of New York.” Closing night audiences got a glimpse of the movie, whose $100 million budget, multiple filming delays and star-studded, squabbling cast have made it irresistible fodder for the tabloid press.
The reaction from the crowd was said to have been generally positive, although we think they might just have been dazzled by the presence of stars Cameron Diaz and Leonardo Di Caprio. Costar Liam Neeson was unable to attend — he’s doing “The Crucible” on Broadway — and there are whispers that the other big name, Daniel Day Lewis, wasn’t too gone on Cam and Leo. In fact, we hear that during filming, DDL was so annoyed with Leo’s hard-partying ways that he checked out of his hotel. But sure, that’s all water under the bridge now, right, Daniel?
We caught a short clip of “Gangs” on a TV news show over the weekend, and it seems to have captured 19th century New York in all its reputed seedy glory. And, even better, the acting by Cameron and Leonardo seemed highly entertaining — we haven’t heard Irish accents like that since Tom Cruise begorrahed his way through “Far and Away.” Sigh. If only we didn’t have to wait another seven months to see it.
Speaking of Tom Cruise, we hear that he has a real, if tangential, connection to “Gangs.” It seems that the superstar actor visited the set as the guest of the film’s producer, Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein. While there, he overheard a heated discussion between Scorsese and Weinstein over funds to build a replica of a church for one pivotal scene.
With the movie already overbudget, Weinstein was reluctant to approve another $100,000. But Scorsese persisted, and made a believer out of Cruise.
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“Will you please give Marty the church?” Tom inplored Weinstein. “He needs it.’ ” Needless to say, he got it.
Mac the Mouth gets ‘The Chair’
Forget “Fear Factor.” Wave buh-bye to “The Weakest Link.” The British TV audience won’t know what hit ’em after they get a dose of tennis tough guy John McEnroe when he takes the helm of a new game show on BBC1 this fall.
The tennis legend, who’s known as much for his courtside backtalk as for his backhand, has agreed to present 10 episodes of what’s described as an “extreme quiz show” on the Beeb. McEnroe hosted a version on American TV last season, but found himself out of a job when ratings plunged.
The gimmick on “The Chair” is that each contestant will get strapped into the show’s namesake, where special devices will monitor his heart rate as he answers general knowledge questions. The one who stays coolest wins the cold, hard cash.
The BBC is taking a more restrained approach to the show than its U.S. counterpart by eliminating the more over-the-top stunts and concentrating on psychological pressure to add excitement. British contestants will be spared the loud noises, flames and live crocodiles featured in the American version. No word yet on whether they’ll let McEnroe argue with the judges — which would really strike fear into a player’s heart.
It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but here goes: What do Paul O’Neill, George Stephanopoulos and Bono have in common? Hint: it’s neither height nor hair color nor choice of eyewear.
The diverse group traveled to South Africa together last week for a conference on dealing with the scourge of AIDS in Africa.