Film Scouts on the Riviera 2000

2000 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Catching Up With The Original Ally McBeal

by Richard Schwartz

Film Scouts on the Riviera 2000 is presented by:

CANNES, May 14, 2000 - The irony was just too much. Heading up the red carpet for Wednesday's opening night screening, Calista Flockhart realized she was wearing the same red Chanel dress as Holly Hunter, her co-star in the Un Certain Regard film "Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her."

Things you can tell just by looking at her? How about, "Dammit, she's wearing my dress!"

Every girl's worst prom scenario became a reality for Calista, who was rumored to have rushed back to her hotel suite and binged on a piece of lettuce.

But that wasn't the end of this irony-laced evening for the "Ally McBeal" actress. When she took her seat for the screening of the opening snoozefest, the French historical film "Vatel," Ms. Calista realized the adjacent seat was occupied by Bridget Fonda.

Yep. Bridget Fonda, lovely and talented daughter of Peter, niece of Jane. And, more relevantly, the Bridget Fonda who, it was recently revealed, was the original choice to play the character of Ally McBeal.

But that's where it ends. There is nothing nasty going on between Calista and Bridget. In fact, Fonda took the time this afternoon out to put such rumors to rest.

"I'm going to clear something up right now," she said, taking a rather apologetic tone. "I was not quoted as saying that. David Kelly was quoted. Apparently, he called and asked. I never did [know]. I was not available or I don't know."

According to Fonda, the interesting bit of trivia surfaced during the press for "Lake Placid," a Kelly-directed film that starred Fonda.

"I don't talk about what I turned down," Fonda continued, slightly perturbed. "It's stupid, it makes me look small. I felt bad. It makes me look like I have no class. I never said it. It's annoying."

Fonda added, "I think she [Calista Flockhart] makes that show great."

It was the only time Fonda took the offensive in an otherwise charming roundtable press session for a new movie called "East of Heaven, West of Hell." The film is a western directed by country star Dwight Yoakam and boasts a high-powered ensemble including Yoakam, Vince Vaughn, Billy Bob Thornton, Bud Cort, Paul Reubens and the aforementioned Peter Fonda. The film is also disjointed and somewhat offensive with a few particularly abrasive scenes featuring rape and dismemberment.

Barring a major fix in editing, this film will rank as one of the few blotches on an interesting C.V. for Fonda. Beginning her career with notable films like "Scandal" and "Shag," she quickly established herself as an independent-minded actress with a commercial sensibility.

"I like to work slightly outside of the studio system," Fonda said. "I think it helps that I started out on independent films that were studio-style films but not overly quirky or what we've grown to know as independent films. I've established that I bounce around a lot. I'm in a good place."

Fonda did bounce to major studio fare with memorable turns in "Point of No Return," "Single White Female" and "Singles." More recently, she returned to the indie scene, prancing through Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown" as the finest-looking heroin junkie ever seen on film.

Fonda's next release is "Monkeybone," a partly animated, partly live-action fantasy/comedy with Brendan Fraser ("it's so fucking cool!" Fonda says bluntly of the special effects-driven film to be released by Fox). Staying true to her "bouncing around," Fonda has also completed "Delivering Milo," an independent film with Albert Finney, and "The Whole Shebang," a Stanley Tucci project.

But no word yet on whether she'll get to work with Calista.

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