Rambling Reporter

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PEDRO AND ANTONIO: NO STRAIN IN SPAIN: Pedro Almodovar will not be going to the Toronto film festival to promote The Skin I Live In, his new plastic-surgeon thriller, but he's sending star Antonio Banderas as his emissary. Banderas owes the start of his career to Almodovar; still, the actor was quoted last month as saying he hadn't worked with his mentor in 20 years because Almodovar felt betrayed when Banderas left for Hollywood. But the director denies it. "I've been wanting to work with Antonio for a long time," he tells THR. "It's just that I wanted to work with him in a different kind of role from what he's played for me in the past. Even when I was writing this evil lead character, I saw him with Antonio's handsome face. All told, it's been a very happy re-encounter."

Son of Hopper

Before he died of prostate cancer in May 2010, Dennis Hopper got to see his 20-year-old son's first acting job. Gus Van Sant, who directs Henry Hopper as a morbid teenager in Restless, tells us he presented Dennis with a rough cut just after the movie wrapped last year. "He said that Henry reminded him of himself in Rebel Without a Cause," says Van Sant, whose film screens in Toronto before hitting theaters Sept. 16. He adds, "Dennis was very happy and relieved that Henry, who set out to become a painter, was acting."

Battle of the Sexes

With his Contagion opening Sept. 9, director Steven Soderbergh held an early screening of his next film -- the action thriller Haywire -- at Soho House on Aug. 25. It stars martial arts superstar Gina Carano as a brutal government contract killer and co-stars Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor and Antonio Banderas. Soderbergh explained how the role of a competing hitman was not easy to cast; two actors passed on it. Seems one was uncomfortable about punching a woman in the face, and the other did not want his ass kicked onscreen by a lady. But when Soderbergh asked the macho Michael Fassbender if he had trouble with either, the actor said, "No, I don't think so." We'll see the results in January.

Obama House for Sale!

Less than a week after President Obama and his family wrapped their vacation at Blue Heron Farm on Martha's Vineyard, THR has learned that the 28.5-acre estate is up for sale. The owner, William Van Devender, a Republican timber businessman, is asking for $24.5 million, and it's due on the market soon. The compound, which has hosted the Obamas three years running and has been rented out for $50,000 a week, is on Tisbury Great Pond in the town of Chilmark and includes two residences, equestrian facilities, a bocce ball court and a full gym. Obama isn't the only president to visit -- Bill Clinton attended a 1998 dinner in his honor there. "It's the quintessential Vineyard property -- elegant, understated; it doesn't reek of nouveau riche stuff," says Mark Jenkins of Wallace & Co. Sotheby's International Realty, which has the listing. "Perhaps the new owners will want the Obamas to be their guests."

MTV Missing Something

Judy McGrath might be out at MTV, but her presence was felt at the Aug. 28 Video Music Awards. When Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters accepted the band's VMA for best rock video, he thanked the former MTV Networks chairman and CEO, whose resignation in May after more than 20 years at the company was nothing short of shocking. He's not the only one still offering props to the popular exec: Asked what he thought of this year's VMAs during a party Aug. 30, Interscope Geffen A&M chairman Jimmy Iovine's only comment was, "I miss Judy McGrath."

Power Lunch

Memento and Alice in Wonderland producer Jennifer Todd discussing an upcoming movie with a friend while lunching at Ammo. … Ridley Scott sliding into table one at e. baldi while it was still warm after Vidal and Ronnie Sassoon vacated it. … Mark Wahlberg dined with Nancy Meyers at Fig & Olive, and their conversation was in whispers. Sounds interesting. … Also at Fig & Olive, Reese Witherspoon, in giant sunglasses, with her kids Ava and Deacon and husband Jim Toth sharing weekend lunch dishes; and spotted on separate days: Zoe Saldana, Kate Walsh and Principal Communications' Melissa Zukerman with Rica Orszag, executive director of the Wasserman Foundation.  … Katie Holmes hugged Brett Ratner at Soho House. … Rashida Jones and In Living Color producer Tamara Rawitt going for organic burgers at O! Burger. … A trim Rainn Wilson seeking salad at Mixt Greens in mid-Wilshire. … Will Arnett and Jason Bateman lunching with two men at Soho House, near their DumbDumb offices. … Nick Jonas having a breakfast business meeting at Delphine at the W Hollywood. … Chris Daughtry sharing sushi and appetizers with pals at Sushi Roku Hollywood. Miranda Cosgrove also turned up, leaning on crutches after her recent tour bus accident.

 

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