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City of Angles

Brando Weighs In on Oz's Qualifications as Director

July 11, 2001|ANN O'NEILL

At the premiere of the heist flick "The Score," topic Numero Uno was Marlon Brando'son-set feud with director Frank Oz. Word is that there were creative differences, and that Brando refused to take direction from Oz. Poking fun of the director's Muppet origins, Brando nicknamed Oz "Miss Piggy."

At one point, according to this week's Time, Brando blasted Oz: "I bet you wish I was a puppet so you could stick your hand up my (bleep) and make me do what you want."'

Enter Robert De Niro, peacemaker. In the movie, Brando portrays a gay crook who manipulates De Niro's safecracker into one last heist. But on the set, it looked more like De Niro was manipulating Brando into playing nice.

"That was a bad time," Oz told us at Monday night's premiere on the Paramount lot, "and Bob helped a great deal."

Alas, silent Bob didn't help us at all when we asked for his take on the behind-the-scenes intrigue. "Bob doesn't talk," said his publicist, Stan Rosenfield . Still, it was nice of him to smile and wave.

Oz and producer Gary Foster were happy to dish. The feud emerged early, they said, when the director pushed the 77-year-old Brando a wee bit too hard. And one doesn't push Brando, Oz now admits. Brando, he conceded, "had justifiable reasons to act the way he acted. I was confrontational. I should have been more generous and I think that's what caused the rift between us." Today's lesson: "As a director you need to be more nurturing, and I learned."

But even while he was waging war, Brando was in touch with his inner child. On the first day of shooting, he slipped remote-control whoopee cushions onto the chairs of co-stars De Niro and Edward Norton. Phffftt!

"The Score" opens Friday.

Inner Space

It must get crowded inside Roseanne's head. The comedian and former talk show host says she shares her inner space with other personalities she has named Baby, Cindy, Susan, Nobody, Joey and Heather.

Roseanne, 48, talks about her life with multiple-personality disorder in this month's Esquire. "It comes out of being a kid," she says, "when you're at that emotional development level where you really can't tell the difference between what's in your head and what's outside your head, people-wise."

We last saw Roseanne in March, when she gave a talk at L.A.'s Kabbala Center. She told a group of rapt 20-somethings that Kabbala is "the only thing that kept me sane."

"I used to think I was an alien. I now believe everyone else is an alien, and that I'm the only person who belongs here on Earth," she said back then. "I don't care anymore if people think I'm crazy."

Roasted to a Turn

Playboy's septuagenarian founder and editor in chief, Hugh Hefner, will be on the hot seat when he's roasted again in September by the New York Friar's Club.

Hefner was lightly toasted by the Friars 25 years ago, when he celebrated his 50th birthday. Back then, he was with playmate Barbie Benton and those who lined up to poke some fun at their poker buddy included Jim Brown, James Caan, Tony Curtis and Warren Beatty.

The Friars cranked up the heat a bit more in 1999, when Hefner was named the club's Man of the Year. Then, Milton Berle, Larry King and Red Buttons led the basting. Now, as Hefner enjoys a popular revival and the company of seven--count 'em, seven--blond girlfriends, he's once again stuffed and ready for roasting. No word yet on who'll be speaking.

Meanwhile, Hef waxed philosophical during a call from his Playboy Mansion lair. "My life is an open book with illustrations," he said. Yes, and some of the people in those illustrations aren't wearing any clothes.

Joni's Grrl?

Writer Cathryn Mischon recently met Joni Mitchell, who, she says, has always been like a mother to her. Mischon, who recently published a humorous, mock self-help book, told us she had a "long, gorgeous lunch" with Mitchell after writing about the singer. They were brought together by a friend of a friend.

Mischon writes in "The Grrl Genius Guide to Life: A 12 Step Program on How to Become a Grrl Genius, According to Me!" (Cliff Street Books), that she believes she's the daughter Mitchell gave up for adoption years ago:

"I understand, from People magazine, that a girl has come forward who claims to be Joni's daughter, but let's look at the cold facts. This 'daughter' does not sing at all, whereas I, like Joni, am a three-octave soprano. This 'daughter' looks nothing like Joni, whereas I cannot set foot in a room where there are musicians without someone going on and on about how much I look like Joni."

Mischon, a former TV writer, actress and stand-up comic, now says it was all a joke, and that Mitchell didn't seem to mind.

As Mischon writes in her book, "All I want is to play Joni in the miniseries of her Grrl Genius life that so desperately needs to be made."

Singing Soap Star

Wally Kurth, who plays rock singer/trust fund baron Ned Ashton on General Hospital, recently gave a command performance for devoted fan Brooke Gash, who was undergoing treatment for kidney disease at UCLA's Mattel Children's Hospital.

Gash, 16, was stunned when her dreamboat strolled into her room, greeted her by name and burst into song: "Singing on a rainy afternoon, Brooke can make the sun come out. Dancin' all the way across the room, playin' her music just a little too loud ...."

"Oh, this song is about me!" the beaming teen cooed.

The visit was sponsored by the Songs of Love Foundation, a nonprofit group that arranges recordings and live performances for sick kids. Founder John Beltzer said the songs "keep the child's mind off the pain."

*

Times staff writers Gina Piccalo and Louise Roug contributed to this column. City of Angles runs Tuesday-Friday. E-mail: angles@latimes.com.

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