Julian Schnabel has cast Johnny Depp as the lead in his next movie, a biopic of Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas, who killed himself in 1990. Sean Penn and David Bowie are slated for supporting roles. Arenas was jailed by Fidel Castro essentially for being gay and ultimately exiled from Cuba, and has become a martyr for the gay rights movement. His jailhouse memoir, Before Night Falls, is the rage among college multiculturalists. Shooting is scheduled to start within the next six months.
Schnabel's first film, Basquiat, bombed despite a panorama of talent that included Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Courtney Love and Willem Dafoe. Critics carped that the Neo-Ex maestro had heterosexualized Jean-Michel's story, portraying him as a stud with the ladies while ignoring the fact that he was openly bisexual, and had been a male prostitute for years as a teenager. By stripping the gay theme out of the movie, Schnabel rendered Rene Ricard's crush on Basquiat as exploitative and careerist, which was not only absurd but depleted the film's tragic dimension.
Could Schnabel be trying to atone for that mistake?
Speaking of art-star directors, Robert Longo (Johnny Mnemonic) and Cindy Sherman (Office Killer), whose movies were not treated kindly by either critics or ticket-buyers, seem to have learned their lesson. But Search and Destroy director David Salle recently said that he has been shopping a musical based on Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, in which he wants Chris Walken to star. Mercifully, there have been no takers.
Vandals have attacked the portrait of President Bill Clinton by painter R.B. Kitaj that hung since 1996 outside the dining room at University College, Oxford, where Clinton attended on a Rhodes scholarship, according to the London Daily Telegraph. The unknown satirist added an "unusually shaped cigar," according to the report, which went on to say that Oxford students never liked Kitaj's paintings anyway.
Australia's most famous bankrupt art collector has become a painter himself, according to the London Times. Playboy yachtsman Alan Bond made headlines when he bought Vincent van Gogh's Irises for $49 million at Sotheby's New York in 1987. Now jailed after a drastic financial downfall (Irises is now at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles), Bond has taken up painting with a passion.
Bond, 60, works chiefly in oils and watercolors, and cites Renoir, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec and van Gogh as among his influences. Bond sells lithographs based on irises and has been commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra to produce a self-portrait. A painting he did of Australian footballer Peter Matera sold at a charity auction for nearly £10,000. It now hangs in Langtree's, Perth's oldest bordello.
Bond is due for release in April 2001.
Madonna is cultivating her two-year-old daughter Lola's taste in art, according to the Telegraph, which notes the singer's collection of works by Tamara de Lempicka, Salvador Dalí and Fernand Léger. "Her favorite is in my bedroom," Madonna told the paper. "It's called the King of the Black Isles and features a king with his head bowed and crying. Lola often asks me why he is crying, so I invented a story that he was sad because there was no more water on earth."
Frank Sinatra's favorite color as a painter was orange.
Sean Connery's son Stephane Connery-Cosman is senior vp of Impressionist and contemporary art at Sotheby's New York.
Back in the 1950s, conservative pundit William F. Buckley roomed with David Niven in Geneva, Switzerland. Buckley was devoted to painting, but Niven said, "Buckley is the worst amateur painter in the world. He knocks off nine paintings in a night and they all look like the bottom of Lake Erie."
Pop artist Claes Oldenburg was beaten up by the police during the 1968 Chicago Riots. Pop artist Robert Rauschenberg's real first name is Milton.
Claude Monet won 100,000 francs in the 1891 French lottery, permitting him the affluence to paint in leisure for the rest of his life.
Pablo Picasso was born stillborn but his uncle fetched a doctor who brought him to life.
The year that Norman Rockwell first painted a cover of the Saturday Evening Post, the hit song that swept the country was Old Macdonald Had a Farm.
Yoko Ono and Linda Eastman were both born in Scarsdale and both attended Sarah Lawrence College. Yoko Ono means "ocean child" in Japanese.
Painter Paul Gauguin helped dig the Panama canal.
BAIRD JONES reports on art and celebrity in New York.