Going Dutch: Basic Instinct Director Plumbs His Homeland’s Past
“We didn’t sleep one hour—not one hour,” said German actor Sebastian Koch, describing the Oscar-night fêting of his last film, The Lives of Others, a surprise win for Best Foreign-Language Film this year. “We had an invitation at the Governor’s Ball. And then, after, the Germans made a big, big party, and they were so sweet and so nice, we couldn’t leave.”
But leave he did, boarding an early a.m. flight for New York in time for Monday night’s private screening of Black Book, director Paul Verhoeven’s World War II thriller, starring Mr. Koch as a Nazi officer romancing a Jewish Dutch resistance fighter played by Dutch actress Carice van Houten (whose character, preparing for seduction, “Aryanizes” her pubic hair in the film by stroking it with a bleach-soaked paintbrush—ladies, do not try this at home). “They picked us up at 5:30 at the hotel,” Mr. Koch said. “We drank through, and it was great.” Given the circumstances, he was looking surprisingly fresh at the dinner that followed at Osteria del Circo, hosted by Peggy Siegal, who said that “Sydney Pollack flew me in … on his jet that he piloted himself.”
Black Book appeared on the Academy’s nine-film short list for Best Foreign-Language Film this year, but missed the final cut. After 20 years of filmmaking in the States, Mr. Verhoeven—of Robocop and Basic Instinct fame—repatriated to the Netherlands to make a film about his homeland’s past. The script is based on historical research, the characters on actual people.
Wearing a beige suit and baby-blue shirt, generously freed at the neck, Mr. Koch made himself clear on one point: He will not be typecast, though he also played Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect—“such a big asshole”—in one miniseries. “I definitely won’t play the bad German, the Nazi German, here in Hollywood or wherever,” he said. “I have so many good offers in my country, or let’s say in Europe. I just wait for the best offers, like I always did. And if this can be in Hollywood, why not? For me, it depends only on the script, the part I’m doing and the people around me. It could be in Greenland or the Sahara, I don’t care.”
What did he think of the current campaign by Long Island Congressman Steven Israel to acquire posthumous American citizenship for Dutch Holocaust victim Anne Frank? “I think it’s ridiculous—that’s my first reaction,” Mr. Koch said. “I mean, it’s over; the mistakes were there. I think it’s not necessary. It’s more important to make such movies, to talk about it, to know what went on, what happened. Yeah, it’s a gesture, which I suppose is important for some people, so why not? But it doesn’t change so much.”
The 44-year-old actor, a divorced father of one, was sipping from the same snifter of Sambuca as his co-star and new girlfriend, Ms. van Houten, 30. It’s a relationship that arguably started even before filming began. “He Googled my nude pictures, and I Googled his,” she said.
Godfather Still Fave Flick of New York’s Semi-Famous
The Godfather, said most of the cast of Law & Order—including Courtney Vance, Tamara Tunie, Chris Meloni, Dann Florek and Jane Krakowski.
“Anything with Bette Davis,” said Mr. Vance’s silken-shouldered wife, former Oscar nominee Angela Bassett.
“On the Waterfront,” said Chris Noth. “I cry every time I see it.”
“Brazil,” said Liev Schreiber, star of Broadway’s Talk Radio, whose pregnant girlfriend, Naomi Watts, was presenting in L.A. “It sort of fulfills that fantasy element that theater can’t,” he said.
“Great Expectations,” said Lanvin-clad former Oscar winner Tatum O’Neal—meaning the 1998 adaptation with Gwyneth Paltrow.
“Raising Arizona,” said Court TV cutie Ashleigh Banfield. “The quirkiest, most hysterical film ever made,” she declared.
“Labyrinth,” said America’s Next Top Model winner CariDee English. “I love David Bowie, and it’s a fun movie that reminds me of my childhood.”
“South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut,” said Richard Belzer. “It was a musical, it was a social satire, it was hysterically funny and incredibly timely when it came out, because censorship was on the rise,” Mr. Belzer continued, before adding that he is also a huge fan of The Godfather.
Mommy and Maer: Radar Magazine Is Standard Issue
“Is it a new magazine?” asked Lady Victoria Hervey, the eldest daughter of the sixth Marquess of Bristol, at the Radar reincarnation party in West Hollywood on Feb. 21. Well, not exactly, your ladyship ….
But New York socialites Tinsley Mortimer and Fabiola Beracasa were fresh breezes at the Standard Hotel on the Sunset Strip, clad in skin-tight vintage Herve Leger. “We got a little loaner. It’s a Cinderella deal,” Ms. Mortimer said. “Once I got it on, I couldn’t get it off,” said Ms. Beracasa of her snug white sheath, which was covered in colorful rectangles, like a Mondrian painting. Nearby was a poster of the two friends posing in a bathtub. “I love the idea of not taking ourselves too seriously,” said Ms. Mortimer, as if the photo shoot were a welcome respite from her regular regimen of Spinoza and Hegel. “We were envisioning this really deep European bathtub with our heads poking out, but instead we ended up in a bowl,” Ms. Beracasa said. “A bird bath!” Ms. Mortimer added.
Will Radar succeed this time around, its third? “No, we’re about to fold immediately,” said editor in chief Maer Roshan, sucking on a cigarette. “You can do better than that.” Was supermarket mogul and rumored partial backer Ron Burkle going to show up? “I’m not a seer,” Mr. Roshan fairly snarled, then softened a bit. “I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t think we had a great track record,” he said. “We’ve needed consistent backing. and Integrity Media has provided that. I report to Yusef”—Integrity chairman and beer distributor Yusef Jackson—“and I talk to him, period.”
Just then, an attractive, slightly older brunette woman rushed up to greet Mr. Roshan. “Hi, sweetheart,” she said. “Hi, Mom,” he replied.
Oil Heir Pollutes Pre-Oscars Party
In the V.I.P. section of L.A. Confidential’s Oscars party at the Mondrian Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 22, Damon Whitaker was in good spirits, even though he’d spent a good deal of the night explaining that he was not his brother, soon-to-be-Oscar-winner Forest. “That’s happened to me all my life,” he said, smiling wanly. “I don’t mind. I’m proud to look like my brother, especially this year.”
Nearby, veteran actor David Carradine was sizing up the dance floor. The Transom asked if the run-up to Oscar night had changed much over the years. “No, it’s always the same silly parties,” said the Kill Bill samurai, and then reconsidered. “Well, I’m a great-grandfather now—that’s different,” he said, adding that Anthony Quinn had children into his 80’s. Yeah, but that don’t make it right! Does Mr. Carradine still practice martial arts everyday? “Why, you want to go a couple rounds?”
The Transom sought refuge in the men’s bathroom, which was rapidly being permeated by a fetid odor.
“Jesus!” said a curly-haired man at the front of the one stall, scrunching his face in disgust. “Oh, man—that’s awful!” gasped another, burrowing his head inside his trench coat. “Lawd-a-mercy!” cried still another, and then: “Check out those shoes,” pointing to the black suede loafers peeking out from under the stall.
After about 10 minutes, the stall’s occupant began jiggling the apparently jammed door, with increasing aggravation. The Transom helped wrench it open, only to encounter oil heir Jason Davis, the larger, lesser-known brother of Brandon, dressed all in black, with a white scarf and platinum hair.
Before The Transom could compliment Mr. Davis’ performance and inquire as to his influences, the latter man made for the door—no doubt much lighter on his feet than before.
Paris the Thought: A.P. Says Au Revoir to Hilton Hottie
On Feb. 13, the Associated Press declared its plans to boldly go where few wire services would dare to go in this day and age: the no–Paris Hilton zone.
“Next week,” entertainment editor Jesse Washington wrote in an e-mail memo obtained by The Transom, “the print team is planning an unconventional experiment: We are NOT going to cover Paris Hilton.
“Barring any major, major news, we are not going to put a single word about Paris on the wire,” the memo continued. “If something does come up, big or small, we encourage discussions on whether we should write about it.”
The results of the experiment, naturally, will be fodder for a future A.P. story. “Hopefully we will be able to discuss what ‘news’ we missed,” read the memo, which could have used some stern copy-editing, “the repercussions of our blackout for AP both editorially and business-wise, and most importantly the force that cause the world to be fixated on this person who, despite her shallow frivolity, represents an epochal development in our culture.”
Reached for comment, Mr. Washington said, “There was a surprising amount of hand-wringing. A lot of people in the newsroom were saying this was tampering with the news.” One editor’s response was apparently: “This is a great idea—can we add North Korea?”
Mr. Washington said he was inspired by the fact that, in the past year, Ms. Hilton has appeared on the A.P. wire about twice a week.
“We got lucky,” he said. “Totally by accident, her birthday party was the day before we started the experiment. There really weren’t any major news stories involving Paris, so we didn’t have that many really tough decisions to make.” Though “her name did pop up in a couple stories, despite my best efforts.”