"THERE'S HARVEY Weinstein."
"No it's not. Why would he be at somebody else's premiere?"
So went a little argument at the jam-packed screening of the new action thriller "Olympus Has Fallen." Turns out it was the great and powerful wizard of Weinstein. He and an overflow crowd sat patiently, if noisily awaiting the new Gerard Butler movie. Mr. Butler, slimmer and better looking in person, was also there, as was one of his co-stars, the fabulous Angela Bassett. Mr. Butler was in high spirits. At one point, attempting to greet writer Paul Haggis across several rows of chairs, laughing, Butler said, "D--n! I want to kiss you on the lips. We'll have to wait till later!"
Andrew Saffir's Cinema Society put this together, and even Andrew was amazed by the crowd. Extra chairs were pulled out and several dozen simply stood for two hours in the aisles of the Tribeca Grand Screening Room. They didn't mind.
"Olympus Has Fallen" tells the tale of a group of North Korean terrorists (the Middle Eastern terrorist is somewhat exhausted for now). They want the United States to pull its ships and troops away from the DMZ, the better to conquer South Korea. These bad guys literally invade the White House and only one man can save the captured president (Aaron Eckhart) -- Secret Service man Gerard Butler. To say one has to suspend disbelief is the understatement of the decade. The movie directed by Antoine Fuqua, is hilariously, exhilaratingly improbable. It is also like 10 other movies I've seen, most of them called "Die Hard" or "Lethal Weapon" or "Air Force One." Originality -- except for the White House being taken -- is hard to come by here. But the audience was with it 100 percent. Every muttered wisecrack from Butler, every time a villain was killed, every time somebody good escaped, the place would erupt appreciatively.
I don't know that conservatives are going to love it. There's some suggestion that the U.S. has brought this horror upon itself, with its international butting in. And MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell is seen frequently, giving the nation grim news as it unfolds. But it all ends in super-patriotism, with the stars and stripes billowing proudly. When the lights came up, the applause was clamorous, and when Gerard Butler stood and tried to take leave, he was mobbed. (In a way that was more exciting than anything in the movie.) Gerard also had quite an amiable chat with Mr. Weinstein, a good friend for whom he has often worked. In 2011 he did "Coriolanus" for The Weinstein Co.
"Olympus Has Fallen" is extraordinarily satisfying for those who like this sort of thing. And millions do! I see big box office.
Oh, Morgan Freeman appears here as the speaker of the House and Ashley Judd has a cameo in "Olympus." She plays the first lady! Perhaps her final film role before she enters politics?
THE PARTY afterward was at The Darby. Among the names -- Debbie Harry (does she drink the blood of virgins?), Jennifer Esposito, Rachel Roy, Star Jones and Courtney B. Vance. (He is Ms. Bassett's handsome hubby who appeared at the party with luggage, apparently just having flown in to be with his wife.) Also in attendance, the usual assortment of beautiful models, their beautiful assistants, their beautiful assistants' beautiful friends, etc.
Drinks, courtesy of Grey Goose, were plentiful, and the food, especially the scrumptious sliders, was delish. At one point, the sliders stopped being passed around. It was then observed that Star Jones and her party had four platters on the table. Star looked very happy. Like the cat that ate the canary. Well, this ex-"View" diva reads the news too.
THIS OVERHEARD at the "Olympus" party: "Right now Justin Bieber is the most interesting story in Hollywood. He's not Britney and he's not Whitney. It's, something else."
This reminds me -- lots of people rang in commenting on Justin Bieber's behavior. Here's one from a neighbor in Stratford, Ontario where JB comes from: "I think that he can sing a bit but he's no Pavarotti. There are hundreds of young guys just like him and I don't know how he made it to the top. It's another case of a small-town boy who just can't take the fame. He is on a slippery course and I believe that he has become belligerent and arrogant at 19? The word "artist" is overused on these screaming nutcases who strut around the stage half-naked mouthing filth."
Hmmm, I'll bet they said something like that when Elvis Presley first appeared. Yes, I remember that they did.
Maybe you were missing the great reporter and cultural maven Morley Safer on "60 Minutes" lately, well, the man who knows more about art, painting, sculpture, music, famous writers, history, etc., was sidelined for a few weeks, but you'll be glad to know that he is back at work in the CBS building and the world is better for it.
The energetic and brilliant Chita Rivera is offering an evening in association with The Producers Circle to remember the generous and sweet producer Marty Richards.
This will benefit the New York Center for Children and there'll be show-stopping numbers of music, music, music at the Edison Ballroom, 240 W. 47th Street. It happens April 8. Call 917-749-5547 for information and where to send checks.
Then, Marlo Thomas and Gloria Steinem are inviting special people with dough in their pockets to Marlo's apartment on March 27 to benefit the election of Kathy Sheehan for mayor of Albany, N.Y.! Call 516-238-6861 for a chance to visit one of the most beautiful apartments on 5th Ave.
"RE THE BOOK 'Truman Capote' by George Plimpton; well, it was Liz Smith, then freelancing, who brought to public attention what was going on. She wrote a long piece for New York magazine about High Society's reaction to 'La Cote Basque 1965'. It was Truman's roman a clef.
Smith described some of the indiscretions and wrote in her felicitous words 'like hollandaise that has missed the asparagus.'"
This is from my pal Walter Owen who works for Vanity Fair and never misses anything. My excuse for printing this is that if I don't blow my own horn, nobody else but Walter will.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)