Can you ditch the President when he has come to see your movie? Apparently so, if you're Denzel Washington and you're throwing your wife a surprise 50th-birthday party. The Oscar winner slipped out of the Washington, D.C., premiere of his football flick Remember the Titans after walking down the red carpet and later greeting President Clinton. By 11 p.m. he was at Jean Georges, the swanky Manhattan restaurant he rented solely for 30 close friends and family members. Roberta Flack, Isaac Hayes and Lenny Kravitz performed. But the highlight occurred when Pauletta Washington, a former singer, serenaded her husband of 17 years with Flack's hit "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." The party lasted until 6 a.m., but Washington was up two hours later for an appearance on Good Morning America.
When actress Christine Baranski ran into 60 Minutes' longtime executive producer Don Hewitt at a Manhattan party recently, she told him one of her favorite lines in her new CBS sitcom Welcome to New York: that her character's goal is to become "Don Hewitt in high heels." Hewitt enjoyed a hearty guffaw but promptly turned down Baranski's request to sit in on a meeting at the venerable news show. "We don't have meetings," he told her. "We had one 30 years ago, and it was a disaster. We were all hollering at each other."
One of the funniest scenes in this year's movies comes in Meet the Parents, when Robert De Niro administers a lie-detector test to his prospective son-in-law, a jittery Ben Stiller. Turns out the bit wasn't even in the movie until director Jay Roach met with the two actors over dinner in Manhattan. As De Niro described the technical details of a polygraph, which he was researching for another film, Stiller became so twitchy that Roach added the scene. And that's the truth.
You may have read that Matt Damon trained so hard to play a top-flight amateur golfer in The Legend of Bagger Vance that he ended up with a separated rib, causing a reshuffling of the production schedule on location at the Kiawah Island Resort in South Carolina. What wasn't reported, however, was that Jess Cuthbert, the 21-year-old son of the resort's golf director, stepped into Damon's spikes. After he spent four hours in the makeup chair getting his hair to match Damon's, Cuthbert, a one-handicap who's the same size as the star, had to mimic the actor's swing for some tee shots. See if you can spot the fake Matt when the film opens Nov. 3.