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Wednesday 3 September 2014

Sparks fly over Hillary mini-series

US DIARY

Orla Healy

Published 25/08/2013 | 05:00

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NBC, the US TV network that announced its plans for a Hillary Clinton mini-series with great fanfare at the end of last month, is now gingerly back-pedalling on the project that rival networks gleefully predict will never see the light of day. And not because the Republican National Committee voted to boycott NBC News (along with CNN, which is planning its own Hillary documentary) during the 2016 GOP debates. But because NBC brass is reportedly more than a tad nervous about the level of blowback they stand to get from the Clintons themselves.

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The mini-series, which was to star actress Diane Lane, has been a major headache for the network since it was announced at the end of last month.

Internally, the project sparked incredible tension between the news and entertainment divisions. Externally, it gave Republicans permission to bellyache about favouring the prospective 2016 presidential candidate.

But according to the Hollywood Reporter, the real fear is the Clintons' "penchant for grudges" – an experience NBC got a taste of back in 2008 when Hillary came close to boycotting a network debate over one commentator's opinion that Chelsea was being "pimped out" during the campaign. "The Clintons are the ones to worry about," one insider tells the HR. "Who needs those headaches?"

Long-time Clinton intimate and producer Harry (Designing Women) Thomason, stressing that he has not discussed the matter with Bill or Hillary, says the couple would never expose themselves to the accusation of attempting to influence either TV project. But, adds the man who produced The Man From Hope, centrepiece for the 1992 Democratic convention, the couple and their allies are certain to be "vigilant" about both projects. Confirming that those who incur the couple's displeasure typically feel it through surrogates, Thomason describes the subsequent wrath as having "the potential to bring lightning down on yourself".

Message received, if the most recent statement from NBC is anything to go by. Cautioning reporters against jumping any guns, the network points out the mini-series "has not been written nor has it been ordered to production", adding: "It would be premature to draw any conclusions or make any assumptions about it at this time."

TomCat stage reunion romp

TOM Cruise and Katie Holmes were back together again in NYC last week as the lead characters in a hilarious off-Broadway romp that spoofs their courtship, marriage and divorce. The TomCat Project, which debuted as part of New York's Fringe Festival, also zings the couple's relationship with the Church of Scientology, with scenes including that Oprah couch-jump and the US-to-Iceland phone-call Holmes reportedly placed to let Cruise in on her exit plan.

"Initially the concept of the show was to expose tabloid headlines, and raise the question of what is true and what is not," says writer Brandon Ogborn, who based his story on a mix of actual interviews and completely imagined scenes. "But there was a lot of research done on the church, although I found I had to limit that. It's so dark; you could go down a wormhole."

Characters based on personalities including the couple's daughter Suri, 7, current Scientology leader David Miscavige, Oprah, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Hartnett, Steven Spielberg, and Nicole Kidman make cameo appearances during the two-act play, which (predictably) depicts the relationship between Cruise and Miscavige as "Pope and King"; while Holmes (surprisingly) comes off as both the "damsel in distress" and "opportunist". The fact that lead actor Walt Delaney looks nothing like Cruise just adds to the fun.

As noted in his bio: "Delaney is Tom Cruise ... if he lost his gym pass, made it a point to avoid sunlight and hit a growth spurt." Cruise, Holmes and officials for the church have declined to comment about the play, which will next stop in LA.

Shhh, don't spoil 'Salinger'

JD SALINGER would probably get a kick from the stealth strategy being employed to whip up excitement for the September release of a new film and companion book about his final mysterious years. The Weinstein movie company has teamed with publishers Simon & Schuster for a campaign called "Uncover the Mystery but Don't Spoil the Secrets", which asks viewers and readers not to reveal details from the movie or the book – both titled Salinger – because of their "revelatory and confidential nature" in telling the story about the enigmatic novelist who died at the age of 91 in 2010.

Harvey Weinstein says he believes the tactic will work –just as it did 20 years ago when, as head of Miramax, he asked audiences not to reveal the surprise twist in The Crying Game.

"With Salinger, we have a similar situation," Weinstein said in a statement last week. "The joy of this documentary is discovering information that, until now, has been kept under wraps for decades."

Movie critics, who are put out at having to sign non-disclosure agreements to get into screenings, might lighten up once they hear what the cast and crew had to go through.

"I have worked on more than 200 documentaries in my career, and Salinger was the most secretive and the most intense film I have ever worked on," says Buddy Squires, the film's cinematographer. "This was the first film in my career where I checked into hotels under a fake name," he adds, promising: "There have been reasons all along to value secrecy." We'll see.

Sixth time lucky, LiLo?

LINDSAY Lohan kept it simple when she sat down with Oprah last week to explain herself. Which isn't to say it was easy to follow what the 27-year-old was talking about. Addressing the multiple issues that have made her a tabloid staple over the past six years, Lohan confessed that: a) yes, she is addicted to alcohol; but, b) not cocaine. The only reason she did coke, she explained, was because it allowed her to drink more.

As for her addiction to Adderall, she's over it. She used to think the ADD-fix made her more grounded but that, she now thinks, was probably because she was drinking too much.

Lohan, who denied ever injecting anything stronger than a B12 shot, also admitted to having an addiction to chaos, a lifelong habit that resulted in acid reflux – which she treats with Nexium.

The actress, who looked calm and collected during the interview, is optimistic that her most recent stint in rehab (#6) will be, like, her last.

Simple. Right?

Sunday Independent

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