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BUZZ/SAW: Dining Out With Diane Keaton

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Aug 15, 2001 | 10:35am EDT

Who needs rehearsals? Apparently not Diane Keaton, director and star of "Hanging Up."

In the comedy hit, Keaton, Meg Ryan and Lisa Kudrow play three ambitious sisters who are drawn closer together when their womanizing screenwriter father (Walter Matthau) becomes hospitalized. The spunky on-screen spontaneity suggests Keaton's loose-leash approach.

Indeed, according to Bill Robinson, the film's producer and Keaton's longtime partner in her Blue Relief production company: "Diane doesn't believe in a formal rehearsal process. She feels that you can kill whatever spontaneity and freshness the actors bring to the role if you keep putting them through their paces. The rehearsal process for her was having a read-through or going out to dinner and talking about the character."

Compare that rehearsal-lite approach with that adopted by the "American Beauty" team, wherein the players spent many weeks sitting around a table pouring over Alan Ball's Oscar-nominated screenplay. Their belief in rehearsing was imported from the world of theater, where live performance demands such discipline. Theater, in fact, nourished many of the "American Beauty" talents, including first-time feature director Sam Mendes and stars Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening -- all Oscar nominees.

Which is the wiser approach -- to rehearse or have dinner? Proof may lie in the Oscar count but, frankly, dinner sounds good to us.

FRENCH FILMMAKERS REMEMBERED: Famous French lover and sometime director Roger Vadim ("And God Created Woman," "Barbarella"), who died Feb. 11 at the age of 72, had five wives, including Brigitte Bardot and Jane Fonda, and affairs with many famous women, including Catherine Deneuve.

What some obituaries neglected to mention is that Vadim's last wife was Marie-Christine Barrault, who survives him and should be familiar to readers on these shores. Barrault, niece of the great French actor Jean-Louis Barrault ("Children of Paradise"), has starred in dozens of French films, including the art-house smash "Cousin, Cousine." The 1975 flick garnered four Oscar nominations, including one for Barrault as Best Actress.

American audiences may also remember Barrault for her performance in Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories."

While on the subject of recently deceased French filmmakers, let's mention the January passing of prolific producer Alain Poire, who had more than 250 films to his credit. Poire's specialty was comedy -- commercial comedies such as the French hits "La Boum" and "Les Visiteurs" and the more recent "Le Diner de cons" ("The Dinner Game"), which was also an art-house hit stateside.

Reminiscing about Poire, "Dinner Game" writer/director Francis Veber, who lives in Los Angeles and has also worked closely with DreamWorks' Jeffrey Katzenberg, told Buzz/Saw that "above all, because [Poire] loved to laugh, he was much more inclined toward comedy than more serious genres."

BUZZ CUTS ...

"Who Wants to Vet a Multimillionaire?": That's the new game show we're proposing in light of Fox's "Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?" debacle. The concept for "Who Wants to Vet ..." is simple. Three contestants compete to expose the show's subject -- a supposed multimillionaire who wants to migrate over to the "Who Wants to Marry ..." show. After the three contestants grill the subject in the first half-hour episode, they use the following week to go out into the field week to dig up dirt on the "multimillionaire." All four players return to "How to Vet ..." the following week for the second episode, in which the three contestants present their findings. The "multimillionaire" subject is then given the opportunity to rebut any of the findings and this second episode of "Who Wants to Vet ..." concludes with the audience voting upon whether the subject is worthy of getting married on the "Who Wants to Marry ..." show. The contestant who vets best by uncovering the most dirt gets a shot at being a guest commentator on Court TV. Best of all, Fox gets qualified multimillionaires who will ensure the life and integrity of its hit series ...

Blurber Melts?: A take-my-quote-please! blurbmeister -- one of those "reviewers" with an obscure media outlet who lends his or her name and a gushing quote to just about anything thrown up on the screen -- is experiencing serious burn-out, say Those Who Do Junkets. Seems the guy in question -- so cooperative that certain studios give him, among many perks, business-class seats when they fly him to L.A. junkets -- is dissing the execs he works with and trashing their films, as if too many freebies over too many years has brought him mental meltdown.

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