About Town: Rambling Reporter

5:56 PM PST 11/17/2010 by Merle Ginsberg
Giulio Marcocchi/Getty Images
Foreign Affairs: HFPA member Silvia Bizio (right) with Penelope Cruz

FOREIGN PRESS FLARE-UP

Another mini-war has erupted within the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. La Repubblica writer Silvia Bizio was accused of allowing her journalist brother Carlo-- not a member of the HFPA, but with whom she often shares a byline -- to use quotes said to come from an HFPA-only press opportunity. This is a major sin in the HFPA universe. When complaints were filed by other members, Bizio said the quotes in her brother's article -- a profile on Ryan Reynolds-- came from a studio junket, not an HFPA event. Eventually, the HFPA cleared her name and apologized, but there are still rifts and suspicions among members. "There is so much jealousy in this group," Bizio says. "It's so unfortunate."

ART HOUSE OPENING

Mike Ovitz is laying low these days -- lower than usual -- since it got out that he is separating from Judy, his wife of 41 years. But philanthropically minded Angelenos are getting more than a few sneak peeks of his new modern mansion-slash-bluechip art repository in Benedict Canyon. Word is that Patricia Arquette's Haiti charity GiveLove held a $50,000-a-head dinner there on Oct. 23 attended by the likes of Maria Bello andBalthazar Getty, with the owner's identity kept out of the press. And on Nov. 12, MOCA threw top-secret fundraiser cocktail party chez Ovitz the day before its annual gala. It didn't hurt that more than a few donors wanted to come just to gawk at the Roy Lichtensteins.

THE BEST ACTOR WHO WASN'T

It's looking more and more like the best actor Oscar race is narrowing to the stars of The King's Speech and 127 Hours. But it could have been between Paul Bettany and Shia LaBeouf, not Colin Firth and James Franco. A source close to Bettany says the Da Vinci Code star was the first actor approached for the King's Speech lead; he bears a much closer resemblance to George VI than Firth does. But Bettany had to decline because his schedule conflicted with that of star/executive producer Geoffrey Rush. As has been reported, LaBeouf had early meetings with Danny Boyle to play climber Aron Ralstonin 127 Hours, but he injured his hand on the set of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen enough to require surgery. One could not play a man cutting off an arm with no use of his hand, could he? Now, whoever gets to reach for Oscar has got to feel pretty lucky.

MOVE OVER, DEXTER

The 20th anniversary of Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho is next year. But the once-vilified and even banned novel is going wide. For the better part of the year, the L.A.-native author has been prepping a Broadway musical version. Now killer Patrick Bateman's tale is being pitched as a premium cable series by the people behind HBO's Big Love. Ellis and investors David Johnson and Jesse Singerof Act4 Entertainment were hashing out the details last week at Eveleigh in West Hollywood.

THE MAITRE D' GETS HIS MOMENT

Andy Samberg and his SNLshorts cohorts Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer stay at the Sunset Tower when they're in L.A. and love getting the royal treatment from renowned Tower Bar maitre d' Dimitri Dimitrov. So much so that hotel owner Jeff Klein asked the trio to shoot a digital short for the Tower to send out as a video Christmas card. Dimitrov stars in the spot and apparently impressed Samberg enough that it could wind up on SNL. "People have asked me to be in movies," Dimitrov says. "But I don't want people to think I'm not a serious restaurant man." OK, but he's also got a cameo in Mitch Glazer's new film Passion Play.

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