- The Washington Times - Monday, November 10, 2003

Looking for answers

Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant,” a chilling meditation on school shootings that opened in area theaters over the weekend, is short on answers. That’s exactly the way the director wanted it.

“Instead of making a hypothesis, or something I was selling the audience, I thought the more delicate way to handle it was just have these tiny instances of visual reasons drift by so that the audience could just make suppositions,” Mr. Van Sant, 51, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I chose a more poetic approach.”

The director also told the newspaper that his cast — mostly nonprofessional first-time actors from Portland, Ore. — was far from bashful about the movie’s violent climax.

“It was more of a game during the shoot,” Mr. Van Sant said. “Everyone wanted to be shot.”

Brothers in arms

Ben Affleck is feeling second-fiddle to his pal Matt Damon, according to the Internet Movie Database.

Mr. Affleck said he was overshadowed by Mr. Damon during Miramax’s promotion campaign for “Good Will Hunting,” the movie for which he and Mr. Damon won the best-screenplay Oscar, and as a result, he has yet to win the respect of the industry.

After the film’s release in 1997, he said, “Matt was more sought after. When ‘Good Will Hunting’ broke, it was all about Matt. I’ve always felt like I’ve been in a perpetual audition.”

He also complained that the studio exploited his friendship with Mr. Damon to sell the movie: “Matt and I were a very successful marketing hook for Miramax, and they used it. It felt a little bit like we were whoring our friendship, like a guy out there with an organ grinder and a monkey.”

Eminem’s hang-up

The legendary rock photographer Annie Leibovitz had a hard time persuading a squeamish Eminem to squeeze into a picture with other male rappers, including Rakim and Dr. Dre.

In an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, she said, “He didn’t want to do it. He didn’t want to be that close to other men. It’s that homophobia thing in him. I told him it was just the frame for a photo.”

Mountain home

West Virginia made Michael W. Smith feel right at home this past weekend.

The contemporary Christian musician, a native of Kenova, W.Va., was given the Distinguished West Virginian Award before he took the stage Sunday at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, according to Associated Press.

“He’s known the world over for his inspirational music, and I thought this is certainly something he’s deserving of,” said state Sen. Steve Harrison, who bestowed the honor. “He said it wasn’t necessary, but I told him I thought it was long overdue.”

“I think he makes West Virginia seem like a beautiful place,” said Danielle Lagos, a fan from Fayetteville. “He’s not ashamed to be from here.”

Curtains for Signature

Floyd King, high-energy star of Signature Theatre’s current show, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” isn’t letting anybody forget his grounding as one of the Shakespeare Theatre’s most prodigious talents and cutups.

During the comic introduction of the Stephen Sondheim musical, he gets in an ad-libbed dig at the lowly Arlington stage — the building is a former auto body shop — wondering why there is no curtain.

“Shakespeare Theatre has six curtains,” Mr. King shouts to the cognoscenti, who are well aware of the classic theater company’s bountiful quarters.

Jerry beholds ‘Jerry’

Reuters News Agency

Jerry Springer, meet “Jerry Springer.”

The trash-talk TV host was in London yesterday for a press conference marking the West End premiere of “Jerry Springer — The Opera.”

“It’s unbelievable,” Mr. Springer said of Hollywood actor Michael Brandon’s portrayal of him in the production, according to Reuters News Agency.

Mr. Springer added that Mr. Brandon “has the real physical sense of me.”

The talk-show host and political wannabe, who first saw the opera by British composer Richard Thomas at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, confessed to Reuters : “It was physically uncomfortable. It is hard to sit in the theater and have people turning round and looking at you.”

Compiled by Scott Galupo from staff, wire and Web reports.


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