Malle movie to depict Marlene as mom and more

January 25, 1994|By St. Clair Pugh and Denis Ferrara | St. Clair Pugh and Denis Ferrara,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

"The faster one obeys Miss Dietrich, the easier it will be on everyone's nerves in the long run. . . . Never, never try to convince her of anything. Remember, she is always right!" So wrote Maria Riva, recalling her instructions to various hotel employees.

Maria Riva's gigantic memoir about her mother, Marlene Dietrich -- due any minute in paperback from Ballantine -- will be the basis of a major motion picture, to be directed by Louis Malle. This big-screen account of the life and innumerable loves of the legendary Blue Angel is to be called "Dietrich."

John Guare, riding high on critical acclaim for his "Six Degrees of Separation," is huddling with Malle to fashion a workable screenplay from Maria's massive 600-page-plus remembrance of beaded dresses past. (Guare and Malle collaborated on "Atlantic City" 12 years ago.)

United Artists, once again under the MGM umbrella, will produce.

Oh, I bet you think we forgot about the casting aspect of this? Not at all. We have our own idea, which we'll share in time. In the meanwhile, discuss among yourselves who might portray, in dear Noel Coward's words, "the legendary, lovely Marlene."

As Woody Allen well knows, Mia Farrow is a formidable adversary! Now, the Fox television network may soon feel the sting of this fragile creature's wrath. Mia objects to Fox's plans to make a mini-series of her life, "Mia: A Child of Hollywood."

Farrow has directed her lawyers to contact Fox and express her displeasure in the strongest legal language possible. Underneath her waiflike appearance, Mia is tough and determined -- she married Frank Sinatra, for heaven's sake! Anybody who thinks Mia is just going to sit back and watch her life get all tarted up for the TV masses does not know this woman.

The Michael Jackson civil case seems to be coming to the conclusion that most of us figured it would (an out-of-court settlement for $50 million, $20 million or $5 million, depending on which source you prefer). But the really big question is not what will happen to Michael's career, but, rather, what will become of "Hard Copy's" Diane Dimond?

BY the way, here's Michael's manager, Sandy Gallin, talking to the L.A. Times last week, in regard to his famous client:

"Michael's innocent, open, childlike relationships with children may appear bizarre and strange to adults in our society who cannot conceive of any relationship without sexual connotations. . . . This is not a reflection on Michael's character, rather it is a symptom of the sexual phobias of our society."

In the same article, Elizabeth Taylor is quoted as saying: "Sandy was one of the only ones who really cared about Michael's well-being. Sandy and I have been most blunt and honest and there for him."

Ron Nyswaner-- screenwriter of Jonathan Demme's hit "Philadelphia" -- spoke before a packed, enthusiastic room last week at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center in New York City. In response to critics who've said the film treated the physical relationship between the characters played by Tom Hanks and Antonio Banderas too gingerly, Nyswaner conceded, "Perhaps we were overly cautious." But the writer continued: "The film is speaking to the audience we want it to speak to . . . [also] it's just a movie, not a cure!" (Check out the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, with Rebecca Ascher-Walsh's piece on Demme's film, including a rundown of the scenes between Hanks and Banderas cut from the final print.)

P.S. Larry Kramer, the master of verbal vivisection, sent a letter accusing us of dealing him "a low blow." We printed the remarks of somebody who saw and appreciated "Philadelphia" for what it was, and who opined that Larry's own agenda (his frustration with the long aborning "The Normal Heart" project) might account for some of his slams at Jonathan Demme's movie.

No bitchery, slights or bad wishes intended, Larry, just airing an opinion that varies from yours.

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