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Byline: Joel Stratte-McClure

IRISH EYES ARE SMILING: "I love acting," said a burly Irish dandy quoting Oscar Wilde as he pointed out Al Pacino, Charlize Theron, Andie MacDowell, Orlando Bloom, John Lynch and Fionnula Flanagan at the Wilshire Ebell Theater on Thursday. "It is so much more real than life."

Pacino presented an Oscar Wilde award to Belfast-born Van Morrison during an evening that honored Irish writing in film and featured the wee Oronoco "Wilde" mojito.

"I didn't understand a word Van said when we first met," admitted Pacino, who's currently directing and starring in "Salomaybe," a behind-the-scenes look at his stage production of Wilde's "Salome." "But I love Van Morrison."

Morrison was equally brief.

"It's a long way from Belfast to Hollywood, and I'm speechless," he said.


Everyone else, including honorees writer/director Terry George and Oscar-nominated screenwriter William Monahan, paid homage to Van the Man, whose music is in "The Departed" and almost 50 other films.

"If there were a soundtrack to my life, it's Van and me in a garden wet with rain," said emcee Roma Downey.

Morrison made up for his short trip to the podium during a 45-minute performance that included a "Stand by Me" duet with Solomon Burke, who sang from his wheelchair in the audience, and had MacDowell clapping her hands and singing along with "Brown Eyed Girl." But what really made the actress/model smile was a banner with the Oscar Wilde quote, "There are two kinds of tragedy. One is not getting what you want, the other is getting it."

"That's fitting for Oscar week," MacDowell said to a girlfriend.

SPEAKING OUT AND WRITING CHECKS: What do Hollywood activists such as Jane Fonda, Sally Field, Salma Hayek and Marisa Tomei do when they hear tales of atrocities related by women from Afghanistan, Haiti and Sierra Leone? Rosario Dawson and others immediately wrote checks for $10,000.

"We're all impacted by what happens to other women throughout this dangerous world," said Field. "And we must all help stop the carnage."

A luncheon Wednesday at Campanile in support of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls launched by "The Vagina Monologues" author Eve Ensler, added to the more than $40 million the grass-roots organization ( has raised since it was founded nine years ago.

"The Hollywood community is alive and cooking when it comes to helping empower women everywhere," said Ensler, noting that V-Day is active in 129 countries. "The women here today are brave enough to stand up and fight."

Fonda spoke passionately after listening to stories about rape, kidnapping, slavery, violence, poverty and political repression.

"I want to be funny, flirty and mysterious," she said at the benefit hosted by Ensler, United Artists CEO Paula Wagner and Glamour magazine. "But I am (expletive) angry. I'm raging. Women are dying. Doesn't it matter to you?"

Fonda, who has given $1 million to V-Day, left the restaurant when she concluded her seven-minute tirade. Then Tomei made it clear to everyone in the room, which included newcomers Mandy Moore and Katie Holmes, that they'd just seen the first performance of "Fur Is Back," a new monologue written by Ensler.

"Jane does talk like this quite often, but that was a scripted monologue and first-class political art," Tomei explained.

Write on!

SHORTS STAND TALL: Queen Helen Mirren, recovering from a cold she brought back from London, stood aside to let husband Taylor Hackford take the stage at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Tuesday night. Hackford was hosting "Shorts!" -- a reception and screening saluting the 10 Academy Award-nominated films in the animated and live-action short categories.

"It's delightful to take a night off before the Oscars and watch Taylor champion the short films that he really loves," said Mirren, who plans to wear a Christian Lacroix gown tonight, as she chatted with academy president Sid Ganis.

Hackford won an Academy Award for his short film "Teenage Father" in 1978 and went on to get six Oscar nominations for "Ray" two years ago. "A short film was my ticket into Hollywood," said the director. "All the filmmakers here tonight, whatever their age, have put their blood on the screen and are a key part of the awards on Sunday."

Hackford wasn't the only Oscar winner in the room. Gary Rydstrom, who wrote and directed the five-minute-long "Lifted," nominated this year in the animated short category, has already won seven Academy Awards for his sound work.

"Making short animated films is a midlife career change," said Rydstrom, as he watched shorts from Australia, Denmark, Norway, Hungary, Spain and the U.S. "But I'm very nervous about my 14th nomination because if I win, I'll have to go on stage by myself instead of with my team."

Other nominees had different motives for watching the films in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

"I'm actually here to rip off ideas for my next animated feature," joked Gil Kenan, whose animated "Monster House" is an Oscar nominee. "Watch for flatulent animals in 2008."


3 photos


(1) PACINO and MORRISON: Speaking the same language ... sort of

Alberto Rodriguez/Berliner Studio/BEImages

(2) HOLMES, FIELD and FONDA: They're mad as hell - and raising money for V-Day

Lester Cohen/

(3) HACKFORD, MIRREN AND GANIS: The queen, her prince and the academy - they're all about the Oscars

Michael Buckner/Getty Images
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 25, 2007

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