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Photos That Ring True

January 18, 2002|Gina Piccalo and Louise Roug

Artists, photographers and actors from "The Lord of the Rings" mingled at Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica on Wednesday night at the opening reception for a Pierre Vinet photography exhibition, featuring stills from the movie.

Vinet said he fell so in love with New Zealand, where the movie was shot, that he bought two houses there.

He also fell in love with the actors.

"Liv [Tyler] is ... " But words failed. Instead Vinet, who is French Canadian, kissed his fingers and offered an appreciative smack of the tongue. Pointing to a picture of Ian McKellen as the wizard Gandalf, Vinet told us that he spent two weeks on his knees, shooting stills on the set of the minute hobbit house. "Once in a while you would hear an 'Ouch!' and you would turn around to see if the person behind you was OK, and you would knock your head on the ceiling."

Despite the exhibit, the fellowship of the ring spent most of the evening outside, smoking. We noted that McKellen smokes Dunhill, Viggo Mortensen (who plays Aragorn) smoked Vinet's roll-ups and Elijah Wood (the hobbit Frodo) smokes those awful cloves.

McKellen insisted that gallery guests dispense with his honorific Sir, and just call him Ian. (The actor was knighted in 1989.)

During filming, Vinet called him Sir Ian, a dubious courtesy, the thespian observed. "You can't quite tell with the French if they are mocking the English."

Still, he praised Vinet: "He has the eye of a Cartier-Bresson." The actor also praised the even-tempered Peter Jackson, inventing an adjective for the director. "He is very equilibriumable."

Working on the movie was "the hardest, most difficult experience of my career," said Wood, but "it was also the greatest."

MTV personality Chris Connelly joked about Wood, who played a 3-foot-tall hobbit in the movie but stood tall on this night: "He went to New Zealand a boy and came back a man."

Flier Warranted

When Jason Mewes, star of the new movie "RSVP," failed to show up in Park City, Utah, this week for its Slamdance Film Festival premiere, members of the film's production crew handed out wanted fliers, not realizing (or so they claimed) that Mewes is indeed a wanted man.

"Basically, we were concerned because we hadn't heard from him," said "RSVP" publicist Alma Bogdan. "We weren't aware of any of his problems."

A judge recently issued a $50,000 bench warrant for Mewes arrest after the actor failed to appear at a probation violation hearing in December.

Last year, Mewes, who gained fame playing a stoned slacker in the Jay and Silent Bob movies, was sentenced to two years' probation after he pleaded guilty to a felony heroin possession charge. He was ordered to undergo substance abuse counseling and submit to random urine testing. The probation violation hearing was scheduled after he failed to meet with his probation officer.

"We don't know where he is. Really," she said. "We were just trying to get him here so he could bask in the glory of the movie."

In the Bet Room

If the oddsmakers at Internetops.com are right, "The West Wing" is the one sure thing among the dozens of nominees for Sunday's Golden Globes with 1-1 odds to win. This is the first time that the Internet sports betting site, which has set odds for the Oscars since 1996, has set odds for the Golden Globes, which are given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.

Best Bets: "The Lord of the Rings" for best movie drama (1-2), "Shrek" for best movie comedy (8-5), Russell Crowe for best actor in a drama (3-2), Sissy Spacek for best actress in a drama (6-5), Thora Birch for best actress in a musical (8-5), Gene Hackman for best actor in a comedy (3-5) and "Sex and the City" for best television comedy series (6-5).

Longshots: "The Man Who Wasn't There" for best movie drama (10-1), Billy Bob Thornton for best actor in a drama (6-1), Tilda Swinton for best actress in a drama (7-1), "Bridget Jones's Diary" for best movie comedy (6-1), John Cameron Mitchell for best actor in a comedy (8-1), Cate Blanchett for best actress in a comedy (5-1), "24" for best television drama series (12-1), "Frasier" best television comedy series (8-1).

Company spokesman Kyle Fratini said three oddsmakers base their decisions on "what critics have said about the movies and performances. Then it just comes down to the simple math of it."

Quote/Unquote

"Arnold doesn't even use cops. He thinks they're lazy. Arnold uses all Israelis."--Celebrity security specialist and former Israeli soldier Aaron Cohen, on training Arnold Schwarzenegger's bodyguards--who are all former Israeli military men.

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