L.A. Confidential

Stars in bars, stars in cars, stars with plastic surgery scars.

Apologies to Dr. Seuss, but what's with this town's celebrity-obsessed gossip columnists? Is our decision to live here validated in some way because some hyper-rich, overphotographed motion picture actress took a one-hour flight (with or without her beau) and deigned to seek amusement or nourishment while she was here? Is this Cincinnati -- or Tucson? Perhaps it's as simple as slumping restaurateurs trying every desperate measure to get their establishments' names in the paper and lure regular-Joe diners, just as their forebears hastily slashed prices on the bill of fare as the waning Gold Rush transformed boomtowns to ghost towns. OK, I'll play along: The next waiter/waitress to contact me with the lowdown on a movie star enjoying the bread and circuses at his or her station gets a free pair of movie tix. Don't bore me with the generosity of the tip, though; I want the klepto-thespian details of stolen silver butter knives and swiped sugar bowls.

New Fist of FuryTirade aside, stop trying to spot clench-jawed Keanu Reeves shooting a couple of days of exteriors for some megabudget action sequel. Instead, keep your eyes open for Michael Chow (or Chow Man-Kin, as the veteran of some 45 Hong Kong flicks is known to Asian moviegoers), shooting his first American film in Oakland and San Francisco. According to production manager Eric Blyler, Kung Phooey! is an English-language action comedy that spoofs Crouching Tiger and its various influences. Chow, whom Blyler describes as "Jackie Chan meets Jerry Lewis" (dig the gratuitous name-dropping), is supported by a cast of local actors, including Coleman Domingo and Zepplin Wong.

Chow was born in Canada but migrated to Hong Kong in search of better roles for Asian actors. He was lured to Kung Phooey! by S.F. writer/director/ actor Darryl Fong, who was motivated to make the film in part by the lack of good roles for Asian talent. Incidentally, a highlight of the five-week shoot is bound to be the film's opening sequence -- a wire-work scene that'll be shot in the trees of Golden Gate Park.

Days of Wine and RosesLocal producer Tom Luddy held a private screening of Bela Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies for visiting intellectual and cultural heavyweight Susan Sontag at Saul Zaentz's Fantasy Building, ahead of its near-sellout S.F. International Film Festival screenings. Can't say where they had dinner afterward. ... Francis Ford Coppola isn't the only filmmaker hyphen vintner in Northern California. Documentary maker Owsley Brown III is co-owner of Chameleon Cellars, a boutique winery in St. Helena, Napa Valley. Brown just flew back from Italy, where he was consulting a winemaker about distribution. He'll be at the Friday, April 20, opening of his evocative 1999 documentary, Night Waltz: The Music of Paul Bowles, at the Roxie. ... Congrats to the Palo Alto-based United Nations Association Film Festival, which received the Earl W. Eames Award from UNA-USA for innovatively combining new technology with traditional media. Festival founder and Stanford prof Jasmina Bojic flew to New York for the presentation at the annual United Nations Association convention.

 
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