On Woody Allen's Hollywood Ending, Téa Leoni's ass, and The Hulk's S.F. schedule

Manhattan At 66, Woody Allen is a slight fellow, a little hard of hearing and a tad frail. But he's still imposing when he fixes you with an unblinking gaze, as he did when I asked his reaction to Hollywood Ending having its world premiere on May 2 as the closer for the S.F. International Film Festival. "I don't know about that," he told me during a press junket in a midtown Manhattan hotel a few weekends ago. "People keep telling me that. Now, if it does, great. I heard no. First someone said to me it was in the San Francisco Film Festival. Then I heard it was not in the San Francisco Film Festival. Then someone else said to me it was in the festival. Then I heard it was not in the festival."

There was indeed some back-and-forth -- which apparently did not involve the director's input -- but DreamWorks is keeping its original commitment, and Hollywood Ending is on. In that case, Allen says, "I would just say that it's a film of mine that I would stand behind, and it's one of the films that when I finished I had a positive feeling about, which is very rare for me. I generally think, '"Oh God, I screwed up again.' Here, I felt I had a good idea and I actually brought it off. If you don't like it, I would be surprised, because I think it actually worked."

Flirting With DisasterWhere Allen is unexpectedly serious in person, Téa Leoni, who brightens the new flick as Allen's ex-wife-cum-Hollywood-producer, is a pistol. She chuckles dryly when I ask if her performance will open the door to better parts than the token blonde in Jurassic Park III. "When you were saying this idea of a segue from being a pretty face to being taken more seriously, I was thinking, 'What a polite way of saying, "From being a young piece of ass into being an older woman who's mostly going to play moms."' Listen, I intend to be a very sexy, good-piece-of-ass mother."

Continues Leoni, who's eight months pregnant with her and hubby David Duchovny's second child, "If they only wanted me to be the piece of ass for the rest of my life, I could do that." When your correspondent diligently points out that Sharon Stone has that niche pretty well cornered, Leoni parries, "Yes, but her ass has incredible longevity. I don't know how she's doing it." For her part, Stone has a seat on the upcoming Cannes Film Festival jury. Apparently the French have forgiven her for that hideous Diabolique remake.

Only Angels Have Wings Newly minted Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly and director Ang Lee, the major attractions for the half-dozen TV cameras and assorted scribes attending a press conference for The Hulk on Treasure Island last Wednesday, were delayed for hours while they reportedly shot a helicopter sequence. So Eric Bana, the talented and surprisingly slender Aussie actor (Chopper) who plays the man-creature, became the focus of attention. "I was here once about 10 years ago as a backpacker," he said. "It's nice to be back with a per diem in my pocket." The Hulk, he explains, "is a slightly reluctant superhero, which is an interesting angle for acting. It's like being an actor and not wanting to be an actor. But I like being an actor -- don't get me wrong." He flashes a Russell Crowe smile.

The Hulk is shooting approximately three weeks of exteriors in the Bay Area, climaxing this week with a low-altitude helicopter stunt in the 300 block of Vallejo that entails (per FAA rules) evacuating the neighborhood for a day and a half. Producer Gale Anne Hurd, who confided to me that she is "the only person who lost money in the Woodside real estate market," said the production will spend $10 million here, not including the final bill for ILM's visual effects. Meanwhile, Hulk screenwriter James Schamus, who studied philosophy years ago at UC Berkeley, told me that he's in the home stretch of his Ph.D. thesis, titled "The Moving Word: Word and Image in the Cinema of Carl Theodor Dreyer." Now that's entertainment!

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