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City of Angles

March 30, 2001|ANN O'NEILL

Cabin Fever?

Holed up at his Woody Creek ranch in Colorado in the dead of winter, gonzo author Hunter S. Thompson fired off an expletive-laced fear-and-loathing-style rant to a Hollywood producer. The author was irked at the slow pace of production for the film version of "The Rum Diary," his first novel, written in 1959 and published by Simon & Schuster in 1998. The book was optioned last year by the Shooting Gallery.

Making the rounds on Hollywood fax machines, Thompson's letter to production president Holly Sorensen begins cordially enough, with a "Dear Holly," then gets down and dirty. "Okay, you lazy [bleep]," he writes. "We are not even spinning our wheels aggressively. It's like the whole project got turned over to zombies who live in cardboard boxes under the Hollywood Freeway." Thompson complains that he's done all the work, rounding up a screenwriter and the cast, including Johnny Depp, who played him in the 1998 film "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

He rants on: "Nobody needs to hear any more of that Gibberish about yr. new Mercedes & yr. ski trips & how Hopelessly Broke the Shooting Gallery is." He then savages Sorensen as a "Bystander, making stupid suggestions & jabbering now & then like some half-bright Kid with No Money & No Energy & no focus."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Monday April 2, 2001 Home Edition Southern California Living Part E Page 3 View Desk 2 inches; 58 words Type of Material: Correction
Mistaken identity--An item about Erin Brockovich in Friday's City of Angles column confused the identities of two of her former husbands. Steven Michael Brockovich, a Reno stockbroker, is suing her in Los Angeles County Superior Court but had no connection with an alleged extortion attempt. Another former spouse, Shawn Brown, was implicated in that case, but the charges against him were dismissed last year.

Thompson rages on before signing off: "Okay, this is my Outburst for today. . . . I'm in a mood to chop yr. [bleeping] hands off."

Sorensen says Thompson's missive was a tongue-in-cheek stab at her "radically independent film company." The delays, she explained, are due to the looming summer strikes. She said there are no hard feelings between her and Thompson, who even promised to be her Oscar date. (He wound up staying home.) "Hunter and I are friends," Sorensen said. "Hunter is crazy. He thinks this is hilarious."

Thompson's book tells the story of an American journalist working in Puerto Rico in the late 1950s. Depp has agreed to play the journalist; Nick Nolte is signed for the role of his conflicted editor. Both actors will executive-produce, Sorensen said. Thompson could not be reached, but Sorensen says he's feeling much better.

A Family Affair

Actress Lynn Redgrave reluctantly took the witness stand in Los Angeles Superior Court this week to tell the story of how a surprise holiday confession led to the demise of her marriage of nearly 32 years. It was Thanksgiving Day 1998. Redgrave had just put the turkey in the oven in their Topanga Canyon home when her manager husband, John Clark, dropped a bombshell. The little boy she thought was her adopted grandson was actually her husband's child with a former assistant who subsequently married their son. In the ensuing weeks, Redgrave told Judge Arnold Gold, "Mr. Clark became abusive. He refused to stop opening my mail. He continued to listen to my conversations on the phone, and taping them." She added that contrary to her wishes, he continued to control her personal finances.

In January 1999, she took off her wedding ring. In February, she took off for London for a publicity tour for the movie "Gods and Monsters." In March, she filed for divorce. Redgrave broke into tears as she recalled returning many months later to her once "lovely home" to find it a wreck, with litter on the lawn and the pet parakeets flying around inside.

At issue at the trial is the division of the couple's property and finances, as well as a request for continuing alimony by Clark, who says he managed Redgrave's career during their marriage. "To this day, I don't know why Lynn has become hostile," Clark told us outside court.

Life's a Brockovich

The real Erin Brockovich has had a tough week. First Julia Roberts neglected to mention her while accepting a best actress Oscar for playing the cleavage-baring former law clerk. Now, Brockovich is being sued for libel and slander by one of her former husbands. Reno stockbroker Steven Michael Brockovich charges in his Los Angeles Superior Court suit that Erin defamed him in People magazine and the Star tabloid by claiming he didn't keep up his child support payments. He seeks unspecified damages.

Erin Brockovich made the same allegations under oath. She testified recently at the Ventura County trial of a lawyer accused of trying, along with the ex, to extort money from her to prevent leaks about her personal life to the tabloids. Steven Brockovich initially was a defendant in the case, but charges were dropped last year. Meanwhile, a jury was deliberating the criminal case against the lawyer at press time. Erin Brockovich was unavailable for comment, but her boss, attorney Ed Masry, says the suit is frivolous.

Who, Me? Burly?

The burly handler overheard advising Hilary Swank not to get too close to the civilians as they exited the Shrine Auditorium on Oscar night has revealed himself. "That was me," says Fox's online entertainment columnist, Roger Friedman. While he'll reluctantly admit to being burly, Friedman insists he's no handler.

Sound Bite

"Kabbalah teaches you that if you're a woman, you're probably on your last life. If you can live through this, there's no way you'll have to come back."--Roseanne, at a talk at the Kabbalah Centre.

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Times staff writers Louise Roug and Gina Piccalo contributed to this column. City of Angles runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.

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