04/03/2002 at 01:00 AM EST
"The Cat's Meow" heralds the return of Peter Bogdanovich ("The Last Picture Show," "What's Up, Doc?," both from the early '70s) to feature filmmaking after a nine-year absence, during which he did some TV work. "Cat's Meow" deals with a Hollywood legend, the 1924 real-life -- and never fully explained -- death of film producer Thomas Ince aboard publisher William Randolph Heart's yacht. Bogdanovich, 62, has assembled a star-studded cast to play the star-studded guests aboard the vessel that fateful night: Ince (Cary Elwes), Hearst (Edward Hermann), Hearst's mistress Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst), future gossip columnist Louella Parsons (Jennifer Tilly), Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard) and author Elinor Glyn (Joanna Lumley, of "Absolutely Fabulous"). Bogdanovich recently met with the press to help bring attention to the film, which opens in limited release April 12. Here's some of what he had to say, as reported by PEOPLE (about which the filmmaker also makes mention): "I think people are interested in a good story, particularly a juicy one that involves the rich and famous. Most people are not rich, and most people are not famous, so they get a kick out of reading about the supposedly blessed lives of people whose lives turn out not to be so blessed. God, we live in a world that is filled with gossip, more than ever. Let's face it, PEOPLE magazine didn't exist until the '70's. In fact, Cybill (Shepard, his former girlfriend) and I were on the cover of the first issue that went to a million copies in 1974. So there's so much gossip now that it's become a kind of industry. It's almost accepted now. I think there is a fascination with it, and it's gotten moreso."